Six Questions For ... Clinic

Who are those (surgically) masked men?

"Always the same, always different," was how legendary British DJ John Peel described the Fall, but that tagline could fit just as well for Liverpool's Clinic. There's no mistaking the band's sound, even as it ranges from thrashy, organ-fueled punk to melodica-heavy spaghetti western-influenced fare. Propulsive rhythms and Ade Blackburn's oddly appealing mumbly whine are the group's constants and they are plenty present on Clinic's fifth album, "Do It!" That same/different theme even fits when describing the band's choice of attire on stage. Surgical masks have remained over their faces for the past decade, but full O.R. scrubs have given way to Hawaiian shirts on this tour. Blackburn addressed the Clinic sound and outfits before the band's show at the Black Cat this evening.

You have a very instantly recognizable sound. What are the main factors behind that?
Some of the main factors would be the rhythms of the songs. Because of that the songs have got an energy to them. The way we put the songs together isn't conventional, it's not just the singer-songwriter approach because it's based around the rhythms. I think that does make it quite immediately identifiable as being the band.

Does having the backbone of the rhythm make it easier to experiment with different sounds?
Yeah, it definitely makes it easier because then you're not as tied down with it. If the rhythm to the song is strong then you can veer off in different directions over top of that and you can use more colorful instrumentation with it. It just gives you a lot more scope to vary the character of each song.

What is about the melodica that makes it so cool?
I'd say it's because it's something that you can play really simple notes. You can have a three note part and it can still capture a mood. It doesn't need to be technically complex to sound good. It's quite different than what you hear in most music now.

Clinic has existed in same time period as the rise of Internet as such a force when it comes to people talking about and discovering music. How would you say it's had an impact on how people discover and digest music?
As far as it relates to us I think that it probably makes it easier for people to hear what we're doing, with it being on an independent label. It allows people to hear new things rather than sticking to things that they already know. But as far as the hype behind new bands, I think what's a bit of a pity about that is the attitude is more exaggerated than before when it was just in print magazines. So it seems like something gets hyped to death in the first six months then it can quite easily disappear within a year. I think you just have to be perhaps a bit more wary.

On this tour you're playing "Do It!" in its entirety then playing a set of older material. Why did you do this and what do you think of the recent trend of band's playing a "classic" album start to finish?
With that we just thought it was a way of getting outside a standard gig. It pushes us into using different instruments in songs that we might not normally play live. And it's not going to be just one long set of songs, it's broken up in the middle and then there's a second set of older songs. So it covers both sides. I much prefer playing a new album and I think that it's really easy for a band that's been going for quite a while to just go back and rely on some of their earlier releases. I'm far more into looking forward with it.

You still wear the surgical masks when you play live. Have you been doing it so long now that there's just no point to stopping? Do you ever feel like Kiss up there?
We've kept evolving with each record - this time there's more of a tongue in cheek tropical theme to it. So I think if that keeps changing it seems like a worthwhile thing to continue. We don't really take it too seriously. It's, you know, just a bit more fun.

By David Malitz |  May 28, 2008; 10:54 AM ET Interviews
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I'd like to buy a vowel in the headline for $100...

Posted by: Hemisphire | May 28, 2008 1:42 PM

And my ploy to get $100 from Hemisphere works to perfection. You can make that check out to "CASH," thanks.

Posted by: David | May 28, 2008 6:18 PM

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