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Liverpool psych stalwarts Clinic return with new album Fantasy Island which takes the band down a new electric avenue while keeping their trademark off-kilter weirdness. Vocalist Ade Blackburn answers our questions.
With the album cover and title, it seems Clinic are taking us to tropical climes – is that the plan?
Yes, we wanted to add a touch of the exotic to this album, musically, something to cheer people up! It’s also got a slight reference to our own British fantasy island, where not much seems based in reality anymore.
Tell us about the Liver Building’s appearance emerging from a palm tree-lined bay on the cover artwork.
Hartley does the sleeve artwork and it’s always nice to have a few Liverpool references in there. I like the idea that it keeps you guessing whether it’s better to be on the island or not. There’s possibly a nod to the end of the original Planet of the Apes film there as well.
How did the recording process differ on this release to previous Clinic LPs?
The main difference was focusing more on the sounds, humour and character of the LP, rather than it just being a collection of songs. I think that helps the entertainment value and makes it more fun. We had that approach from the beginning, which gave it a new slant.
Were there particular artists, genres, styles which you were consuming at the time of writing and recording that influenced Tropical Island?
It’s quite a pop-influenced album, things like Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Fun Boy Three always fascinated me. They were pop acts, but beneath the surface there was a healthy amount of weirdness and social commentary. Alongside the pop, there’s also bits of music hall, trip hop and funk.
There’s a real electronic bent to the album – do you consider this a new direction for the band?
Yes, the foundation of each song was synths and drum machines, that gave us a fresh starting point to then add the more exotic instrumentation and percussion. That’s when it started to take on a life of its own and developed its own sound, which is usually a good sign you’re on the right path.
There was a bigger gap than we’re used to between your previous two albums, but Tropical Island has followed the every two years rhythm of other albums. Are you hoping to be back on course now?
That’s right, hopefully we’re back on course now! The rhythm of releasing every two years means you’re working well creatively and not looking back to the past too much. I think that’s essential, otherwise you’re bordering on being a nostalgia act.
Forming in the late 90s, the band have seen Liverpool’s music scene go through many changes. What’s your take on the current landscape?
Before the pandemic we had a lot of decent music coming through, with bands like Eyesore & The Jinx, Ohmns, Prison Behaviour and Yammerer. I’d imagine the current landscape though is fairly haphazard, with more venues closing and opportunities narrowing. It does feel quite uncertain. I’m sure things will improve over time, I know there’s a lot of people still determined to make and be involved in music in the city.
Tropical Island is out on Domino Recordings on 22nd October 2021.