NME lovingly refers to the surgically-styled Clinic as “the maddest bastards in Liverpool” in reviews, but we say they’re more like the Jekyll and Hydes of British indie. Their new album, Do It!, conjures everything from cinematic nightmares of burlesque disco dances in looney bins to doo-wop love-ins on the planet Mars. However, these gents may just live a reflective, proper life apart from their prankster ways, their mysterious look and sinister tunes. Singer/guitarist Ade Blackburn revealed his bookish side with some thoughtful responses on Clinic’s latest release.

The album title, Do It!, along with its peppy exclamation point and album artwork, is quite playful. How did the band come up with the title and concept for the art this time around?

The title was a play on the old yippie [radical hippie] slogan. I like that prankster element. For the sleeve, we also wanted something brighter and humorous, in keeping with the LP.

Did you work on this album in your own studio as you did with Visitations?

Yes. We got more adept and could experiment with sounds more. It was enjoyable to make, with no real time constraints.

On Do It!, you brought in some new instruments such as dulcimer, violin, flute and bongos. Is the challenge of learning a new instrument or finding a way to introduce new sounds into your songs one of your goals from album to album? What was your favorite new instrument find/sound on this album?

It’s just more creative to include new sounds each time and it changes the character of each album. This time, the flute and effects on “Free Not Free” are my favorites.

How would you say imperfections and minor mistakes (purposefully left in the mix) add to a song’s human element?

Imperfections and a rougher sound seem less artificial and human, definitely. You can visualise people making the songs. Overpolished productions usually drain all the life from a record.

Is improvisation and a certain degree of amateurishness still a vital part of the band’s writing style?

Yes, for the above reasons. You concentrate on the songs rather than individuals and their technical “expertise.”

Some reviewers don’t seem to see the subtle evolution in your music from album-to-album and instead, focus on the notion that Clinic relies on a “well-worn groove” and a “rehashing” of a familiar sound from album to album. I disagree. What would you say to these reviewers?

I wouldn’t try and say anything. People just hear things in their own way. There’s no right or wrong.

Since you’re from Liverpool, a city that surely will never tire of its Beatlemania, your video for “Corpus Christi,” with the band donning mop top Beatles-style wigs, was a great way to poke fun at your hometown. Whose idea was it to find the wigs? I hope you’ll bring them to the U.S. and wear them for the Brooklyn, NY show.

It was Hartley’s [guitar/keyboards] idea. Again, a prankster side. The Beatles legacy in Liverpool is fairly suffocating and sacred. It’s good to not take it too seriously.

The lyrics on Do It!, especially songs like “Emotions” and “Free Not Free,” are very striking. Are there any particular writers or artists that were on your mind while you were coming up with the lyrics for the songs?

[It was] maybe our own take on things like Jimmy Webb or Smokey Robinson, easy listening, but with something raw or honest in the lyrics.

The waltzy bit in “Memories” was unexpected and particularly memorable. How did the band happen to add that part into the song?

We wanted the sharp contrast in the song from the beginning, so it was hard to pin down. That’s true of the whole LP–the quick switches between melody and a raw sound.

Do you see yourselves as nostalgic?

I prefer looking forward. I think you have to, to be creative. Most things now, though, seem so bland and conservative, that sometimes it’s good to look back at different eras.

I’ve heard your reading of the Adrian Henri poem “Tonight At Noon” and enjoyed it a lot. I especially love the line in the poem, “politicians elected to insane asylums.” Why did you choose this particular poem to read on daytrotter.com?

Yes, Adrian Henri’s poetry is quite simple and unpretentious, but still makes a point. That was the main reason, and obviously, coming from Liverpool, I knew a lot of the references.

Are you looking forward to coming back to the U.S. for the May tour? I am excited to see the band again, seems like it’s been ages. Happy ten-plus years on being a part of Clinic, by the way.

It’s the best time of year to play and audiences in America are always open to what we do.


–Madeline Virbasius-Walsh/photos by Nick Brown