Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are an indie rock group from Philadelphia PA. After a few years away from the scene, they’re ready to once again take the world by storm. With the release of a new album and a massive summer tour on the go, we spoke to front-man Alec Ounsworth about Only Run, touring and The Neverending Story.
By Jade Daly
So the band has been a project for almost a decade now, so I have to ask how did it all start? What’s the back story?
I don’t know. I think it started with cocktails around the pool. One thing led to another and the rest is history.
Your newest record Only Run was shrouded in a cloud of anticipation, what has the reception been like so far?
The songs work really well in the sets. I think it has been going really well. I think if someone wants proof, they should come to the shows to see how the album works in the context of the overall catalogue.
It’s been said that picking favourite songs is kind of like picking your favourite child, it just can’t be done, but I’m going to go ahead and ask anyway. Are there any personal favourites from the new album?
The song, Only Run, is among the best I’ve written so far. Your Advice is really good too in a traditional sense . . . Born to Fight stands out as well. I could go on . . .
The bands overall sound has definitely grown over the years. Is that something you try to incorporate into the writing process or is it simply a natural progression?
I think it’s simply a natural progression. I have learned quite a bit more about songwriting since the beginning. I do, however, think songwriting is something of a dying form. Bad timing, I guess. It’s too bad because it’s the one thing (besides the business side of things) that is truly challenging about all of this.
This is probably the film graduate in me talking, but do you think that your music tells a story?
I think so. I do appreciate David Helman’s take on the song, As Always. I think that pretty accurately demonstrates what I was trying to convey in the song. It’s the first time I’ve seen a music video for a song I wrote do that.
On that note, let’s talk favourite movies? I’ll throw mine out there to break the ice, The Neverending Story …
Really? That’s a good one but I haven’t seen it in quite a while. I like Fellini a lot. I would have to say 8 ½. Cassavetes’ Woman Under the Influence and Herzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser tied for second.
Touring generally involves a lot of time stuck in a van or on a bus. What do you guys do to pass the time?
We watch documentaries. On the last run, we watched Runnin’ Down a Dream. I have always appreciated Tom Petty but think that converted me to a true fan.
Overall you seem to have a pretty big fan base. Do you have any memorable fan stories from over the years?
I can’t think of anything that stands out. I have gotten to know a lot of people well on the road. I now have friends in such far-flung locations as Toledo and Grand Rapids. I didn’t see that coming.
So it looks like you’ll be spending most of the summer on the road. Touring can be pretty tough, how do you stay motivated after months away from home?
It can be pretty tough, but I still believe I am doing something worthwhile. My motivation comes from the people I encounter along the way.
Okay, last but not least, what does the future hold for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah?
Practice tonight. 5 o’clock sharp.
Many thanks to Alec for taking the time to chat to us. ‘Only Run’ is out now.