INTERVIEW: Clint Gough (LIKE THIEVES)
Booming back to life like a crash-tackling freight train, Brissie prog rockers Like Thieves have had an eventful 2018 so far, with a brand new single, music video and a national tour on the horizon, their first since their sold-out shenanigans in Brisbane last August.
For a group who have consistently brought a layered and complexly self-assured blend of melodic and striking tones to the prog table (case in point with their previous releases 'Autum's Twilight' and 'The Wolves at Winter's Edge'), it's little wonder the diehard fans had hung on for signs of new tunes for so long - and Like Thieves have certainly not disappointed with their sudden return, sporting a heavier tone, renewed vigor and the promise of a whole lot more to come from the powerhouse quartet of Clint Boge, Clint Gough, Oden Johansson and Daniel Trickett.
But before the live shows kick off next month, The Soundcheck tackled bass-man and creative extraordinaire Clint Gough to chat memorable gigs, film clips and evolving musical tastes (plus what music is guaranteed to annoy guitarist Oden Johansson). Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Thanks so much for chatting Clint! So getting right down to business, Like Thieves recently pulled off a little bit of a hat-trick to kick off 2018, releasing your brand new single 'Never See It Coming', a music video and a tour announce - pretty much all in the space of a few weeks! Certainly living up to the song title it all happened a bit out of the blue...but how long have you guys had this snazzy little number up your sleeves for?
CLINT GOUGH: Oooo....well, essentially we reformed the band maybe mid-last year, I think? We'd sort of put it on hiatus and then Dan (Trickett, drums) came back and we decided we wanted to get things going again. So around then, maybe around June last year, we were going to play the track at our show that we did when we dipped our toe in the water in August last year, and we just didn't feel that we had done the production on it yet to debut it. So it's been around a little while, we've got probably about 20 songs just sitting there, and we did a bit of a vote and the guys picked this one!
TIANA: The response to the release has been pretty massive, and for me personally it's provide me with some ample air-drumming opportunities while I've been commuting to work. But more importantly, and I know you guys would be aware of the buzz out there around the track, but from an outsider's perspective it does seem to be a bit of a beefier and more "aggressive" sound building on your previous releases - was it a significant effort to branch out in that direction this time round?
CLINT: I don't think so...it's sort of strange because it's such an organic, natural thing for me. I probably hear about 20 songs that other people don't get to hear, if that makes sense? We've got a lot in the bag, and I think what that's coming from is maybe Oden (Johansson, guitarist) as well, he plays an eight-string guitar and he's such a proficient guitarist, it's ridiculous! But as he sort of keeps going and going, it's so interesting the way he plays he just finds more! I don't know about the heaviness? It isn't like it comes out of nowhere for us because I hear all the other songs that kind of fills the gaps inbetween, but also I know on the other songs we've got coming up, we've got some even heavier ones!
TIANA: Oooo, that's very exciting news. And also even more recently than just the song release, you guys dished out the music video for the track, and directed by yourself no less! I actually made myself watch it before I read any of the inspo behind it, and it was certainly quite visually hypnotic but also an interesting little insight into the realities of mental illness. Did the concept lend itself naturally to the track from the get-go?
CLINT: Yeah, I was pretty lucky, so I'm a filmmaker that's my job, I make TV commercials everyday so it's can get a bit mind-numbing. I've made a lot of music videos and usually the artists have these grand ideas and I don't really get to take away and put what I feel from the song on-screen. And so I went to the guys when we were first getting the edits through and started to make the video, and it was the vibe - the whole 'never see it coming' and speaking to the other Clint (Boge, vocals) about it all. We just talked and he's such a smart lyricist that it's mildly about that but not really for him, however you can read into it what you want. That's why so many people relate to his lyrics from The Butterfly Effect as well, me included. But I definitely did get that vibe from it, and I wanted to take you on a journey with that and tell a story. And I was pretty lucky that Kevin the actor in it, he's an old friend of mine, I was actually in a cover band with him 15 years ago, or something?! And we bumped into each other on a film set about a year ago and kept in touch, and it was great collaborating with him. Mental illness is something that affects everyone, whether you've got it or it's someone you know. We've had troubles with it within our band, we've had personal troubles with it, and even down to Kevin, he's been affected by it with a matter close to him as well. So it was good to be able to make a bit of a statement, and maybe put someone in that perspective of how simple it could be walking down the street and to have to deal with all of those voices.
'NEVER SEE IT COMING' (LIKE THIEVES)
TIANA: What really grabbed me the most about the clip was how it was such a seemingly simple visual concept on the surface, but so much going on underneath. A lot of the time people go really hard and have almost too many things going on. It was honestly mesmerising.
CLINT: Yeah, thank you! There's budgetary restraints as well forces us to be creative, which is the awesome part about it as well!
TIANA: Off the back of the new tune, starting next month you guys are gonna be jumping on tour with some pretty heavily anticipated shows, starting in Canberra and ending up back home in Brisbane. And like you mentioned earlier, it's been a bit of time between shows for you guys - what's the vibe like ahead of the tour, are you just itching to get back out there?
CLINT: To be honest, yeah I'm really, really looking forward to it. If you'd told me maybe this time last year we'd be doing it I probably wouldn't have believe it...I just wasn't sure if we'd be able to get it together. But once we played that show in August last year, it was sold out at the Crowbar, and had a line of maybe a hundred people out the door that couldn't get tickets...it was like...wow! We hadn't done anything for years, but it had meant a lot to people. So, yeah, I can't wait. I can't wait.
TIANA: I think everyone's pretty damn excited about it, the feeling is mutual. To go back in time a tiny bit, like you said the last time you guys played, you guys sold out the venue, but even prior to that have you got a highlight or perhaps a memorable moment for a Like Thieves gig?
CLINT: Um...well maybe the most memorable isn't our highlight...when we were on tour with Dead Letter Circus, on our last show in Perth after something like 21 shows, they decided to sabotage our foldback system and put an adult video through the split and it ended up shorting out Oden's guitar and we played the worst performance we had of that whole tour. So that was interesting! But as far as a highlight, I dunno...it's always a highlight when you go to another town and you walk down the street and someone stops you and says "oh, you're Clint!" and the next thing you see them at your show and it just blows my mind everytime, it's just the best!
TIANA: Both very valid - and side-note, I spied Dead Letter Circus are hitting the road in June so you may be able to get your chance for revenge in the near future! But still on the whole live music topic, going way, way, back - I'm always intrigued when talking to people particularly linked to these heavier genres to discover what the first ever gig was that you went to not as a performer, but just as a punter?
CLINT: When I was really young, the first time I went to a gig, I really enjoyed it, my parents took me to see Tina Turner. I must've been like 8 or 10 or something, and that was the first time I saw a live performance, and it just blew my mind and inspired me. And then I think the next time was when I was 15 and I went to Green Day at the Riverstage, it would've been on the 'Nimrod' tour or something, I think? And The Living End were playing and it was amazing! It was sold out and packed and I couldn't believe how good it was!
TIANA: And speaking of genres, what kind of music did you actually grow up listening to? Was it always that kind of rock/prog/metal stuff? Or was it something a bit more unexpected?
CLINT: Out of the four of us, I've probably got the biggest spread in taste, I think. But, it's always been simple - if it's good, I liked it. Whether it was growing up listening to Boyz II Men, but then I'd put Metallica in next. I copped a lot of flak when I was in high school for that! But when I started really playing music and bass in particular, I got into Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus. And then I got into heavier stuff, it was Nirvana, then Metallica and next thing I'd found the Deftones, and that was kinda a pivotal type of music, I just was obsessed for years! And it's still just been a bit of a spread since. Dan and Oden are probably more into some of the proggy stuff that's out there at the moment, and I kind of find that music through them which is cool.
TIANA: I'm always onboard with having broad taste - in fact, my Spotify time capsule playlist speaks for itself, I'm pretty sure it kicks off with NSync followed by Rage Against the Machine, and I'd love to pretend it's inaccurate but it pretty much sums up my early music years. Having an open mind makes you a better person?!
CLINT: (laughs) Yeah, you gotta stand by it! It's good, because when you're on tour with Oden you can put Kanye West on and enjoy it and enjoy watching him squirm as well, so that's the positive of it all.
TIANA: You are obviously the resident bass-man for Like Thieves, sporting quite a tasty six-string at times I've spied. And you've spoken about your day job, you're a whiz behind the camera, but I also believe you're quite the artist as well! What actually came first there, was it the music or art?
CLINT: It's strange because all the three things you mention are something that use the same brain, if that makes sense? It's been great for me because with my creativity, I've never had a writer's block because I can always move on to something else. If I'm writing a script or if I'm writing a song or working with other people, it's all the same sort of brain. But...I think art was always the first thing for me, and it's something that once I'm more established career-wise I'm going to definitely invest more time in. But when I was around 8 years old, or maybe even younger, my grandmother was an artist. And I'd go over to her house on school holidays and there was a wall underneath her house that she'd painted blank and a whole new set of paints for me. And she said "alright, whatever you want to paint - just paint!". So, I think as far as the creativity, that was the first. But I always had a natural ability for art. And then it kind of flowed in and out of my life naturally.
TIANA: And final question - we've already been treated to a hell of a lot from Like Thieves this year already, but is there anything else you can reveal about what's to come next? Or will we just have to wait and see?
CLINT: Umm...let's just say wait and see. All I'll say is there's a lot of new music there just waiting. We'll get through this tour and we'll see. Hopefully we get through this tour and we all still love each other!
TIANA: Well I'm keen to see what comes next, and thank you so much for your time!
CLINT: Yeah, cool! No problem, thanks so much.
'NEVER SEE IT COMING' IS OUT NOW VIA ALL THE USUAL MUSIC HAUNTS, AND THE LIKE THIEVES LADS WILL BE HITTING THE ROAD NEXT MONTH - TICKETING + MORE INFO BELOW:
BY TIANA SPETER