It has been a hectic year for rocking big band Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes. We chatted to front woman Clairy Browne herself to talk BigSound, filming TV commercials in Europe and world domination…
By Emma Dean
How did Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes come to life?
Jules [Pascoe, bass] and I are old friends, we used to play in different bands together. We reunited one night when he found me in a bar, drunk, singing torch songs and crying into my whiskey. He took me home and fed me. I slept for three days and awoke to a house full of vagrant muso’s. We all jammed for 7 days and 7 nights and gradually the musicians left, one by one into the night. There were nine very persistent and dedicated kids left. We formed a band.
What did you grow up listening to?
Esther Phillips, The Beatles, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway, Crosby Stills and Nash, Stevie Wonder, Billy Holliday, The Clash, Frank Black, Boys 2 Men, Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, Tom Waits, Ruth Brown, Sarah Vaughan, Outkast, Otis Redding, Betty Davis, Prince, Al Green, The Violent Femmes, Salt n Pepa, Terence Trent D’arby, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Garnett Mimms, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot and so on and so on…
What do you think it is about big bands/blues artists that are making such a big comeback at the moment?
Look, I am not so sure it’s a comeback. Admittedly things go in cycles, but I think it’s just about appreciating a particular sound that influences your style and giving it some modern life.
What are you hoping to get out of BigSound?
We are really honoured to be part of BigSound. I’m definitely looking forward to Steve Earle speak and seeing Electric Empire, Kira Puru and the Bruise, Grey Ghost, Saskwatch… it’s massive, I could go on forever.
Tell us about starring in the Heineken ad in Prague – it must’ve been an interesting experience…
It was a total trip. Heineken found us on the interwebs and contacted my manager and somehow I was in Prague shooting the ad, performing my own stunts and in the completely surreal world of advertising. We didn’t do any shows because I couldn’t take the band with me, but we took a trip to London whilst in Europe. We will be heading back there in December to support the Cat Empire on their European tour.
For someone who hasn’t seen you live, how would you describe your shows?
It’s a nine piece band with lots of energy, a power diva with lots of ‘tude backed with three banging babes, soaring vocals, big hair, horns, soul claps, choreographed dancing, tough women and tight music, highly styled and heaps of fun. It’s a religious and culty experience. You will be high afterwards.
Your debut album ‘Baby Caught the Bus’ is getting a lot of positive reviews and feedback – how was the writing/recording process? What did you want to get across with this record? How was working with producer Steve Schram [The Waifs, Little Birdy, Vasco Era]?
There are bands that just do good live shows and their recordings are shit. And vice versa. We pride ourselves on a knockout show with high energy and awesome musicianship with the ability to make a killer album also.
I love the recording process. The first time you perform a song I think is always true and raw, so it’s about finding that first take on something or the first feeling you connected to a song and recording it. I like to use the first vocal take because it’s super authentic and emotive, usually. We do a lot of the takes all together in the studio. ‘Whatta Man’ was recorded at 1am, drunk on whiskey and cult love in 2 takes. Bash ‘em out. [Steve] Schram is awesome. His ear is amazing.
The official video for ‘Love Letter’ came out a few months ago, how was filming? Who came up with the prison idea? What other music video ideas would you like to explore?
Hannah Fox was the mind behind the concept of the clip. We were going for a Heathers/Lynch/John Waters 50’s does 80’s super camp aesthetic. Just to throw a spanner in the works. We have lots of other ideas in the pipeline, you will have to wait and see!
How is touring going? Have you been working on any new stuff?
Our Love Letter Album tour was a lot of fun. About to hit the road again in September for a tour with amazing support Kira Puru and the Bruise.
And yes, there is another album on the way; we will be back in the studio in October.
I’ve heard you are producing a mini-documentary, what can you tell us about it? When will this be released?
It’s really top-secret, but I will give you a poetic/cryptic clue:
Double Diva on a mountain, bank queue, restroom, beer garden. vocal gymnastics happen anywhere.
Describe a typical writing session for the band.
There are a few writing teams at the moment, either Ruby & Gabe bring something to the table, or Pascoe, Mcnulty and I get together and write and arrange and then everyone has their two bobs to say.
Anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Frank Ocean. Cee Lo Green. Daniel Merriweather. Janelle Monae.
Who are some awesome up and coming bands you’d like to give a shout out to?
Mojo Juju is about to release her album, she is doing great things. Kira Puru and the Bruise break my heart, Ainslie Wells is dreamy, Tommy Spender is an enigma and I’m loving Saskwatch right now.
Finally, what’s next for you guys?
Touring the first half of September, Bigsound on the 12th Sept, recording in October and Japan and Europe in December. Then world domination. In a nutshell.
Many thanks to Clairy Browne for taking the time to chat to us.
Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes play at BIGSOUND Live 2012! With 120 killer bands on 12 stages taking place over two nights in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, the festival has become one of the most widely varied and highly regarded festivals in Australia. Tickets are available through oztix ( http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=27717 ) for $45+booking fee (one night) or $69+booking fee (both nights).