To celebrate the Friday release of their cross-continental collab, the NYC and New Zealand groups grilled each other on integral gear, Brooklyn dives, secret-shame records and the DIY scene across the world
Depending on when and where you’re reading this… your local time and your, you know, hemisphere… the split featuring NYC’s Clone and Auckland, New Zealand’s Swallow the Rat is either ~officially out~ or ~about to be out~. That means this post is either brand-new news or already-old news… but either way, it’s definitely very good news.
While the bands of buddies have been separated by a casual 8,816 miles, they spent the last year working apart… but together… on a rad 8-track release that drops this Friday on the sweetest sonic frisbee my eyes ever did see (aka some seriously rad clear-red vinyl).
Leading up to the release, one of my favorite humans in the scene, LG Galleon (Clone, Dead Leaf Echo), proposed the bands interview each other, and the delightful results of the conversation between two talented sets of musicians on two complete opposite sides of the world is below.
Check out the interview, check out the four songs available for streaming now and then buy the StR/CLONE Split via Swallow the Rat’s Bandcamp and Clone’s Bandcamp or scoop it up through Rough Trade US.
When it comes to these Brooklyn babes and killer Kiwis… Well, let’s just say, I’d split that.
SWALLOW THE RAT INTERVIEWS CLONE
What’s the thing that made you want to play in a band in the first place?
LG Clone: Guitars, fashion, travel
Dominic Clone: Not really sure but I knew that playing clarinet in the school band was not going to cut it.
Max Clone: Blink-182
What’s your secret shame record? Cards on the table, mine is Paula Abdul’s Straight Up.
LG Clone: Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, Sting: All for One (Three Musketeers soundtrack)
Dominic Clone: Ha I’m not really ashamed of any of the stuff I listen to but listening to Ronnie Milsap on occasion is kinda funny.
Max Clone: Also Blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
How does it practically work playing/practicing in NYC? When I lived in London it was super expensive and hard to find places to work. Are there still affordable places to work out of?
LG Clone: A lot of hourly spots went out of business during the pandemic since no was rehearsing. Monthly spots are still kicking and surviving, London’s even more expensive than NYC but there both stupid ridiculous in terms of trying to ever save money for anything outside the immediate future. The ultra wealthy 1% are the types that thrive here. Funny how their philanthropy rarely seems to go towards supporting independent musicians or venues.
Dominic Clone: Nothing in NYC is cheap except for Vanessa’s Dumplings in Chinatown/LES.
Max Clone: Studio daddy LG has got us covered with a great spot !!
You’ve been recording your debut album with Martin Bisi and have spent a heap of time in there. Did you go in with completed songs, or write in the studio? The space looks super industrial–what does it sound like in there? What is it like to work with him?
LG Clone: Some of the songs have been kicking around for well over a year and a half now. All the pre-pro was done in our studio in Bushwick last summer and Bisi came and listened to them all to get ideas for recording. Then we went to his space in Gowanus and tracked all basics in November before finishing OD’s and Vocals in the new year. Yea it’s a very unique space started by him Brian Eno and Bill Laswell. A lot of bands have recorded there including Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, Fab Five Freddy and Swans. It’s a very unique hybrid recorded setup that could never be emulated due to the live room, old mics, a rare MCI board with some custom API modules and a mix of 80’s outboard gear and plug-in’s circa 2001.
Dominic Clone: Yeah all of these songs were written before we went into the studio. Working with Bisi can be really fun. He’s a nice guy and my goal is to make him laugh once every time I’m there. Lots of cool room sounds.
Max Clone: Completed Songs. The studio has such a unique legendary vibe to it. You get this huge natural wet basement reverb you can’t replicate anywhere else. David Bowie recorded Young Americans on his board. Martin’s cool, knows his stuff, and it was super easy working with him.
What’s the most important piece of gear to the band’s sound?
LG Clone: We’re definitely utilizing a lot of the Space Echo RE-201 on the new record we’re tracking.
Dominic Clone: Not sure. I really like using my PolyChorus though.
Max Clone: Our pedalboards. When I think of CLONE, I hear tons of chorus and flanger on the guitars, a dirty distorted bass, and of course tons of reverb.
What’s the best new local act you have heard/seen in the past year?
LG Clone: I haven’t seen anyone in the past year except for Spite Fuxx who I saw play in the back of a Uhaul truck over the weekend. That was fun.
Dominic Clone: Jelly Kelly. Great guys too.
For the next time we are in town, what’s the best dive bar to hang out at?
LG Clone: We already took you to our local dive… Birdy’s. Maybe go to the city and take ya to Library Bar.
Dominic Clone: It’s all about Birdy’s for indoor and HeavyWoods for outdoor!
Max Clone: Jackbar for pinball and beer n shot combos!
CLONE INTERVIEWS SWALLOW THE RAT
What’s it like having an American in the band? Do the two kiwis always overrule him on every decision?
Hayden: I like it. Brian brings a different perspective to what we do, it’s what drew me to this band in the first place. Oh we always overrule him on the need to follow google maps or not, and also whether or not a particular coffee is in fact swamp water.
What are your visual influences?
Stephen Coldbeer: Can I pick a couple?
Colin McCahon – first artist to really get the light right in New Zealand and to represent the drama of the landscape. The harshness of those images always seemed to flow sonically into bands like Straitjacket Fits and HDU– the big landscape, the hard light; [those] were my first local influences.
Michael Parekowhai – He really interrogates the relationship between Pakeha (white New Zealanders) and Maori (the indigenous people of NZ) and the impacts of colonialism. His work has pushed me to consider my role in this, as the ancestor of colonial immigrants. I’ve been trying to work through this in my newer lyrics.
Hayden: I do miss Creative Camera. When was that last published? Was probably killed off by the internet. 2000ish?
What’s been the transition to having only one guitar player now? Brian’s playing in Stereo? Or just turning it up. Also, for Brian, what’s your first gain stage level distortion/od pedal?
Stephen Coldbeer: Brian’s playing in stereo these days (is that the same as turning it up?). Practically it’s meant we aren’t playing a lot of the old songs as they were built around the interplay between the two guitars. That’s been a blessing in disguise though, as we have had to write a bunch of new tunes.
Brian: For distortion the chain in order is: Zev Super Hardon (for boost), JSH moded EHS Soul Food, EQD Palisades & DBA Super Fuzz War
Who or what is triggering the keyboards now?
Stephen Coldbeer: We have dropped the keys from the live sets for the time being, really just for simplicity. There will be plenty on the new stuff, but will prob just be for studio stuff.
This question is for the Kiwis. What’s your favorite city (not hinging on the outcome of the show) that you visited on your 2020 tour. (You better say NYC 😉 ) and was it your first time visiting here? I think it was Hayden and Kate’s first time here they told me.
Stephen Coldbeer: Yeah, for Hayden, Kate and myself, it was our first time in NYC. For me it’s a toss up between Detroit and NYC. Cos of the city shutting down the day after we arrived, I feel like we barely scratched the surface of the place…
Hayden: Yeah how sick is NYC eh. I do have a soft spot for Austin, TX too. But sorry LG I’m actually moving to Tulsa, you can get a house there for like 100k.
How was working at Apocalypse the Apocalypse studios in Clearfield, PA, where you recorded some tracks for your next LP?
Stephen Coldbeer: It was great, we got in at 4pm, had dinner and then got tracking. I think we stopped at 4am or something, and basically finished most of the songs on our split record. Fred Weaver, who owns the space, is a great guy and engineer. It’s also a great space, with a crazy amount of cool and random instruments. It’s set up as a live-in studio, so next time we are over we will definitely be doing some more tracking there…
Hayden: Clearfield felt like something out of Fargo. Would be sick to spend more time there. Fred is amazing and super chill to work with.
Tell me about that time where you played under a bridge in Tauranga. The pictures looked incredible, and will you tour Australia?
Stephen Coldbeer: Tauranga has a great DIY scene, which is almost single-handedly willed into existence by Austin Cunningham, aka Your Enabler Presents . Austin has a PA, and a generator. Basically, a few times a year, without asking anyone permission, he gets some bands to play down there. We drive down a cycle path, load in and go. Generally the whole local scene turns up, and Austin passes a bucket around for koha (a donation). Funny story, after we played, some kids doing some graffiti taught my 5-year-old daughter how to tag. Dunno if i’ll live to regret that, but she enjoyed it!
Hayden: It’s under an over bridge next to the harbour. Curious boaties float up to check out the commotion and unsuspecting cyclists have to wade through the gatherers. There’s rats, it’s just like NYC haha. It’s probably the coolest location to play down there, except maybe Willie’s farm.
Will you come back and do a SXSW tour with us in 2022?
Stephen Coldbeer: Of course! Already in the plan…
Hayden: I’m always the last to know, but knowing Brian, quite possibly.
[Another Sam note: SEE YOU THERE.]
Feature images provided by the artists; crushed + crimsoned by BdBK.