Interview: Clarence Oddbody
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I suppose it was my Dad he played guitar in the 60’s and being from Liverpool, music and The Beatles got drummed into me at an early age. But the real light bulb moment was age 11 listening to Rain by The Beatles I knew I wanted to be in a band.
I started out as a bass player first.
So Bass is my first instrument then guitar a few years later at about age 13. I still get goosebumps listening to that track.
But if I didn’t get into music? Art is a big part of my life.
I probably would be a skint artist trying to earn a living.
Either way I’m still a skint artist.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Reading….watching old films and going to classical concerts.
I love classical music I can really switch off listening to classical music because I know it’s completely out of my league I listen to it and don’t try and pick it apart.
Also can get some beautiful words from old films I am a bit of a magpie.
How long has your band been around?
Well, we formed on the 4th of July 2017 under the archway of the district line near Hammersmith.
From 2017-2021 we released 5 EP’s and have been gigging all round London
Unfortunately, as a result of Covid, Cliff, our old bass player and his family had to relocate to Switzerland.
So in stepped Jasper Osborn Bass player & Keyboard player.
Jasper already knew the songs as he mastered all 5 EP’s for the band.
And both him and Tom have been in and out bands together since being teenagers.
The very first rehearsal with Jasper we became a different type of musical beast we kind of went up a notch.
The Drums & Bass were so locked in really tight but at the same time really grooving.
It’s almost telepathic with Tom and Jasper
In all my long years I have never experienced a rhythm section as tight as these two lads.
I have had to raise my game as well….
So the current lineup is:
Paul Claxton: Vocals & Guitars
Jasper Osborn: Bass & Keys
Tom Chittock: Drums :BV’s
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are now based in Deptford South East London.
I don’t think the area we are based in influences our music.
We have our feet firmly back in the past, most of our heroes are from the 60’s and 70’s.
But I’m pleased to say the London music scene is starting to thrive again there’s a real buzz around getting out to see live performance which is great for all of us.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
The name comes from the 1946 film - It’s a Wonderful Life.
Clarence Oddbody is the name of the angel who saves George Bailey (James Stewart’s character) and then grants him his wish of him never having been born.
It’s one of my favourite films of all time, everyone always goes on about it being a nice Christmas film but, I really feel at times it has a very dark undertone.
Our name has got quite a old feel about it.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
I think it was The Troubadour last September it was our first electric gig since March 2020 because of Lockdown also it was our single launch and with the new line up. It was amazing we were 8 short from selling out the legendary Troubadour in Earls Court.
Luckily enough we haven’t played any bad gigs in this band… touch wood, but I have been doing gigs since 1989 so I have played my fair share of bad gigs….some have been like the star wars bar.
But Hey…..a gigs a gig.
You got to take the rough with the smooth.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
There were two venues in London but they’ve now sadly long gone.
The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town.
Fantastic Rock’n’Roll venue it was a back room of a proper old Irish bar.
I saw so many bands there in the 90’s and was luckily enough to play a couple of times.
The whole room was black and had a really high stage and amazing sound.
And Alley Cat on Denmark St.
It stank to high heaven the toilets were always getting blocked but it had a amazing vibe.
It had a TV outside in the street so you could watch the acts on so it always had a great walk up and was always busy.
I suppose the big one would be The Albert Hall that’s the grand daddy.
I think if you play the Albert Hall you have hit the big time.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
It would be an all dayer at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Marvin Gaye (with the funk brothers as backing band)
AC/DC(With Bon Scott)
Mega City Four
The 3 Kings(BB,Freddie & Albert)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Bob Dylan(When he went Electric)
Neil Young and crazy horse (circa 1977)
I couldn’t call the line up order though….
We would open up for them but only for 20 minutes….I don’t think my neves could handle it….
I could die a happy man.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Rehearse, Rehearse, and Rehearse.
And don’t worry if things go wrong at gigs.
Believe in yourself because no one else will.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Enjoy yourself….when I was younger I was always obsessed with getting the gig right and obviously things sometimes went wrong.
And I played some great gigs in my Brit Pop days back in the 90’s but never fully enjoyed myself.
I was so uptight….. I needed a good slap.
It’s funny I am enjoying playing gigs more and more as I have gotten older.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
We have just finished mixing our debut album
“Who Loves You? And Who Do You Love?
And there is a song -
With me or against me
I wrote it over lockdown the album version has duelling Dobros, piano and me trying to channel my inner Kate Bush with my falsetto.
It’s got a great line ….
“Is there no way out at all?.”
It hits Home sometimes when you hear it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We are really loving playing our new tunes at the moment.
There is a blues tune called From Hell’s Heart I pretend to be Rory Gallagher…. well try to.
And one of our old songs Hammer those Nails
Punters always sing the chorus to us after the gig and ask what tune that was.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I write the songs(Paul), most of the time they are day to day relationships , failed love….the usual stuff
Once the song is written I quickly record it on my phone and send it to the boys and let them do what they want with it.
They play exactly what’s in my head but ten times better and without me saying anything.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
At the end of day it’s all about the songs…..
If you come away humming one of our tunes we have done a good job.
Also when a listener says you sound a wee bit like so and so…..
I love that especially when it’s one of your heroes.
So many musicians get really uppity about that….I think it’s amazing.
It’s always funny when people ask me about the lyrics saying that it hit a nerve with them, always makes my day, because I don’t really set about writing a story they are just really sketches that I put together because I write everyday, mostly on the tube listening to peoples conversations.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Nah….I have been in 16 bands since 1989 and hand on heart it’s the most chilled band I have been in.
Believe me I have had a lot of Spinal Tap moments with previous band members.
But with Clarence Oddbody we just get on with the tunes and usually just fall about laughing in between.
We just cram as much time in for rehearsal so afterwards it feels like a proper work out.
Also it help when you are in a band with better musicians than yourself.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We have just sent off our album to be mastered.
Our debut album
“Who Loves You? And Who Do You Love?
Just getting our artwork together.
We have our big album launch on the 7th of July at The Strongrooms in Shoreditch- London
In the meantime we will be having our second single launch night on the 15th of April at The Biddle Bros in Clapton, East London
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