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INTERVIEW: Clinic
Neil Macdonald , February 20th, 2013 09:38

Ade Blackburn fills us in on how Free Reign II, Daniel Lopatin's original mixes of their last album, came about

On March 4, Scouse post-kosmiche new-wave experimentlists Clinic release Free Reign II, a full set of original mixes of their current album, Free Reign, by Daniel 'Oneohtrix Point Never' Lopatin.

While initially employed to work on the original version of the album, it was felt that Lopatin's vision warranted a further, full-length release in itself. Rather than the standard "strip it down and add trademark electronics" full-album remix one might expect from by a lesser producer, Lopatin presents a full set of original mixes, with his CV and Clinic's spaced-out vintage-future voyaging conspiring to leave us with one of the finest re-production jobs in a long time, and a worthy companion to its outstanding source material - have a look at the video for 'Seamless Boogie Woogie BBC 10pm (rpt) II' below:

In his own words, the Brooklyn-based production visionary says: “I wanted to give it a burnt, 60s/70s stereo dub feel and was under the influence of a lot of Amon Düül II and Les Rallizes Dénudés when I was mixing.” Ultimately, Free Reign II is a trip into cosmic bass frequencies and gloriously narcotic, hypnotic bad-acid psychedelia.

We talked to frontman Ade Blackburn about the album, the band's move towards electronic sounds and why they feel it's important to own physical copies of albums - have a read below, and scroll down for the UK tour dates:

Was it strange handing over an entire album to be re-mixed by somebody else, someone who'd worked on it in the first place?

Ade Blackburn: When we started off recording the album, and had recordings and mixes, Daniel tried out a few different mixes on all the songs. The thing that gave me the most confidence about it was that he'd just take it really quite far out. It wasn't anything subtle, he was adding a lot of his own ideas to it. That's what I think's a lot better about remixes done in that type of way; it's not just what you've done yourself. It's a combination of that and somebody else's creative work. I think with that in mind I felt a lot more confident, because we're of a similar mentality.

So was there a point when you realised that his ideas were going to belong on a separate album, and that this wasn't just going to be a Clinic album with some extra bits?

AB: We never had any plans at all to do a remix album. It was only really when we heard all of Daniel's mixes as a whole that it sounded really strong, and something that deserved more than just being included as a b-side or something. It seemed to completely have its own style to it, which seemed separate from what he'd done with the Oneohtrix stuff on his own. It seemed quite unique.

Was it any problem to tell Domino your plans? You don't seem to have ever made music that you've been 'obliged' to - were they cool?

AB: I think once we'd listened through to Daniel's mixes, both Lawrence from Domino and Bart, our A&R person, they felt the same as we did - that it was something you needed to hear as a whole, and that it would work. I think it was only in the week after we'd released Free Reign that we decided that it seemed the right thing to do - for Daniel's mixes to come out.

Clinic's music is obviously inspired by some great record collections. What do you think of how things are now, where a clueless kid can download anything they like, form a band and rip it off?

AB: It's something that I do think about a fair bit. I'd say that if you can get something that easily, then there's less chance of you listening to the album all the way through, or more than a couple of times. That's the difference I suppose, from when I was growing up. You'd always have the 'hunt' for the record, and that could take a while, so when you'd get it, it'd be something that you'd make sure you listened to a lot. I'd say that in theory it makes it much better to have all that access to endless music on the internet, and maybe we'll strike a better balance, but at the moment, as far as what's beneficial to music, I'd say that actually having to make an effort to find records, and to listen to them, and to use that to make your own music, I think you get more from it.

Are you trying to go back to the values of physical ownership with your weird formats?

AB: Yeah. [Jonathan] Hartley, the guitarist in the band, has always done the sleeves and I think we've always had as much interest in the sleeves and videos or what we can give away along with the music. I think that with the price of albums, people deserve to have something which feels "special", or isn't just run-of-the-mill. I think that the people who make the music owe it to someone who's going to buy it to make an effort with the whole package.

How's the downfall of high street music retail going to affect this? Will it eventually affect the musicians and the music being made?

AB: Yeah. I think that's totally true. Up until, say, five years ago there was still some residual confidence. Or money was still around in the music business. Gradually it just cut to the bone. It just really narrows - rather than opens out - ways in which you can survive. Like alternative ways, like DJing or production, because obviously all the other people in bands want to diversify, so there's more competition in those areas. It really has all fallen in on itself. I try and look at it in an optimistic way, as far as things like downloads go, in that there's maybe less blogs now, so it's not as easy to download music. So maybe all the back catalogues of the blogs still going have been completely decimated, so that's good for future releases. In terms of legal downloads, it's always a bit dangerous when it's concentrated around one company. A monopoly is not healthy.

A guy called Brendan Canty - although not the Brendan Canty formerly of Fugazi - made your new video. How did you meet him?

AB: It's really flattering when people are willing to work with you. We always discuss what we're looking for in a video with Domino, and throw ideas around. That's where they're really strong as a company, they've always got ideas. Perhaps unusual collaborations, or ideas for collaborations that maybe shouldn't work, they're still willing to give it a go.

How does the equipment you use now compare to what you started out with?

AB: I think we've pretty much stuck with Vox AC30s and AC15s since the beginning really. We've still got the Fender Coronado semi-acoustic, which is a classic! We've had that from the beginning. We probably use the sampler quite a bit more now than we have done. Carl who plays the drums triggers quite a lot of samples. We don't use melodica anymore. We've used clarinet and saxophone a lot on the last LP. It's always just trying to move it on with the sound. I guess it's gone very slightly more electronic compared to how it was at the beginning.

Can you see yourself moving further into that direction? An album of mixes by an electronic producer makes me think that you might.

AB: Yeah, yeah. Seeing as how we got to this sound, it's something that we could definitely explore more in our own way. It doesn't seem like, that if we were using those sounds, it would seem like we were standing still. I think with Free Reign there are still quite a few conventional song structures, I think there's more we could do with that. As far as using more electronics.

What are you up to for the rest of the year?

AB: We're touring, but one thing that I'm really looking forward to - we're supporting The Residents in May, at the Barbican. That was just out of the blue that we got offered that. I think we're going to keep doing new music as well, and to try and get a single out in the autumn. There's the second Liverpool Psychedelic Festival, that's happening around that time, and we're playing that as well. That was really good last year. You'd think there might have been something else in the past like that in Liverpool, but there never has been. It's at the end of September [Friday 27-Saturday 28].

FEBRUARY
Sat 28 - The Cluny, Newcastle

MARCH
Fri 1 - Stereo, Glasgow
Sat 2 - The Deaf Institute, Manchester
Thu 7 - Corsica Studios, London

MAY
Sat 18 - The Barbican, London w/ The Residents

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