Setting a new Clench mark...

The Clench - credit Paul Cantrell

The Clench - credit Paul Cantrell

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TO say The Clench are a little different to other local bands does them a gross disservice.

In a city awash with indie acts seeking your attention the sextet frequent a style you might expect to emerge from Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.

“It’s not been a reaction against being just another indie band as such,” says lead guitarist Rob Nevitt.

“The type of music we make just seems the most natural thing for us to be doing, and that’s the primary motivation. That said, bucking the trend of the wave of identikit indie bands has to be a good thing.”

Except their début album, Walking In The Devil’s Tracks, doesn’t so much buck the trend as fit it with spurs and plonk JR Ewing’s hat on its head.

Not that singer Joe Meredith goes out of his way to sound American, which might sit uncomfortably with some city folk.

“I get really bored very quickly with most music so for me had it not been something as faintly ridiculous as cowboy rock ‘n’ roll based in Sheffield I think I would have lost interest very quickly.

“I certainly don’t see myself giving a great deal of time to write more obvious stuff. If I don’t find something entertaining I’d struggle to put the time in.”

Talking to other Clench men, however, it seems achieving what they have isn’t so easy to explain.

Slide guitarist Oliver Allchin even goes so far as to admit: “We’re as bemused by this as you are.

“We’re a bunch of men from Sheffield who’ve never so much as been near a horse and our album has ended up like the soundtrack to some Spaghetti Western.

“I don’t think there was ever a conscious decision to go down a particular musical route. We’re six people with different musical tastes; it’s safe to say each of us listens to music the others wouldn’t put anywhere near their ears, whether that’s P-funk, ’60s surf music or WASP.

“The music we’ve ended up making represents a sort of Venn diagram of where our tastes and personalities overlap. It could be termed Americana overall but I think that reflects a common leaning towards the cinematic – our extracurricular activities include film studies, film making and film criticism – rather than a conscious desire to write country/cowboy songs.”

Either way, the likes of Gotcho Disease and Disco Mariachi are as far away from say Mardy Bum as it is possible to be without moving to Libya. And, as a live band, The Clench are more than just ‘worthy’, they entertain.

That’s something drummer Billy Sevens had in mind. “For me the motivation is to make good rocking music for people who come and see us to really enjoy, and for us as a band to also love what we are doing.”

Not that there was any particular design to The Clench forming. Like their sound, the band seemed to simply happen.

“We initially formed for a one-off performance at a mutual friend’s birthday party, playing such cowboy hits as Patrick Swayze’s She’s Like The Wind while dressed as Harpo Marx, Indiana Jones etc,” recalls Oliver.

“We weren’t very good, but we decided to carry on playing together and to get an actual drummer. Our current sound reflects those improvised beginnings – we didn’t sit down and plan out a carefully constructed set-up.

“James (McVeigh, rhythm) plays acoustic because he didn’t have an electric guitar at the time, Hal (Walker) plays six string bass because he used to be in a hip-hop / funk band, Ol plays lap steel because Hal’s girlfriend bought one off ebay and it seemed a shame not to use it. Over time we worked out a dynamic whereby it all works together well, and the mix of disparate sounds forms a cohesive whole.”

The result is escapist imagery of cacti rather than steelworks, heat-baked dusty tracks rather than Fargate.

“We’re writing songs about stuff we could never have experienced; taking inspiration from music and an era that’s a world away from anything we’ve ever encountered first-hand,” adds Rob.

“The basis of a lot of the imagery comes from second-hand sources; Spaghetti Westerns – and their soundtracks – are a significant touchstone for us, but they were also an outsider’s perspective of the old west.”

The Clench play Bungalows & Bears on August 28. Get the album from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and on CD at theclench.bigcartel.com

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