INTERVIEW: Scotland’s best-kept musical secret CHARLIE CLARK on his new single & being signed by Alan McGee

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s best-kept musical secret CHARLIE CLARK on his new single & being signed by Alan McGee 4
Credit: Keith Morrison

Scottish singer-songwriter Charlie Clark has just released his brand new single ‘Don’t Have A Cow, Man!’, the first taste of his upcoming album Late Night Drinking.

A multi-talented songwriter, Clark and lifelong friend Willie Campbell were the founding members of Glasgow indie-pop outfit Astrid. One of the best-kept secrets in the music scene, Astrid began to make a name for themselves in the late 90s, hotly tipped by the press, championed by Radio 1 and invited to record a session for John Peel. In between Astrid splitting in the early 2000s and reforming in 2014, Clark stayed active in the underground music world, playing his part in indie supergroup The Reindeer Section and his own projects Broken Arrow and The Majestic 12. A cult favourite, he is a highly regarded musician who has played with likes of Mogwai, Arab Strap and Snow Patrol.

After a few years as one of LA’s key music promoters, Clark reunited with Willie Campbell to record Astrid’s marvellous 2019 album Fall Stand Dance, before moving permanently back to Scotland and penning his debut solo LP. Late Night Drinking will be released later in 2021 via Alan McGee’s new label ‘It’s Creation Baby.’ Its first fruit comes in the form of the invitingly melodic jangle-pop of lead single ‘Don’t Have A Cow, Man’. XS Noize’s Ben P Scott spoke to Charlie about his sublime new music.

Charlie Clark
Credit: Keith Morrison

“Don’t Have A Cow, Man!” is a sunny song, but lyrically it sees its author dealing with a major crossroads in life. Tell us more about the story behind the track…

CC: It’s about finding myself in an endless cycle with patterns of behaviour in my life. I’d had long term sobriety which I lost. Drinking and using looks very different when you’ve experienced sobriety. I concluded with my “research” that my life was completely out of control, and I was in trouble.

The song is mainly about taking that window of opportunity not to go any deeper. It’s definitely the most upbeat note of the album. I think it could have been an Astrid song, and very nearly was.

What else can we expect from the other songs on ‘Late Night Drinking’?

CC: There’s a lot more managed chaos over most of the record, with some gentler moments. But half the album is full-on. There are bits of Broken Arrow in there too, and it’s more where I wanted to take MJ12.

Your music found an influential fan in former Creation Records boss Alan McGee, who has signed to his new label. How did that come about?

CC: He came up to do a Q&A at Stornoway’s art centre that I hosted and booked. We basically just ended up having a great night chatting all night, and the next day as he was leaving, he offered me a deal for a single. I hadn’t even recorded the album yet but was just about to so I just sent him the finished album. He really loved it and offered to put it out. The whole thing was totally unexpected but really organic he’s a lot of fun to work with.

How does it feel being a part of the Creation story, and what is it like working with Alan McGee?

CC: Even though I love loads of music from the 60s, I was more influenced by bands of the time like Teenage Fanclub, Ride, Sugar… loads of stuff on Creation… obviously Oasis too. It definitely feels full circle because when I was 14 years old, it was the only label that I ever wanted to be on. It really does feel like a seal of approval. He’s as I imagined, all about the music.

Credit: Keith Morrison

The video for the single is an interesting one…

CC: The video is the first in a series shot by Keith Morrison from a wee studio on the Isle of Lewis. That turned out pretty mental!

What are your plans for the rest of 2021?

CC: I think at the moment just with the lockdown; I’m concentrating on promoting the record as much as I can online, so keeping up on all socials is quite a regular thing. I’ve had several shows moved so hopefully things might look better towards the latter half of this year. Other than then will have another single laid on me with the album to follow after that in the summer.

Produced by Cambodian Space Project’s Jason Shaw and mastered by Mark Gardener from RIDE, the album features appearances from fellow Astrid man Willie Campbell, Calum Buchanan from The Sea Atlas, and brother Kevin Clark of The Broken Ravens on drums.



Xsnoize Author
Ben P Scott 80 Articles
Ben P Scott is a writer and DJ from Somerset, UK. In his teens, he wrote the indie fanzine Supernova from 1997 until 2000 and has been writing for various music sites since 2010, including his own Rewind/Fast Forward site. He has many favourite bands and artists including Manic Street Preachers, The Fall, Blur, David Bowie, Mansun and Oasis.

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