Clever Little Tramps
This is our first Independent Music Monday, and this week we’re focusing on a band from Wirral, Merseyside called Clever Little Tramps. We’re listened to quite a few of their songs and we love their sound. Clever lyrics with catchy melodies, what’s not to love! We caught up with lead singer Russell to find out more.
How did you meet and how did you come up with the band name?
Well Mark is my brother, so we’ve known each other forever. We’d been in a couple of bands together in the past but unfortunately they didn’t quite work out, so we started jamming, writing and recording together. Eventually we started gigging at open mics and acoustic nights. Then I asked Mike, the bass player from my first band, if he fancied joining us for a few jamming sessions, so Mark jumped off the bass and onto percussion and harmonies. We’ve pretty much kept the same set up since the start, but have recently worked with a drummer and swapped acoustic guitars for electrics. As for the band name, my brother came up with it, I’m pretty sure it had something to do with a very helpful homeless guy and a cash machine!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Growing up I remember a fair bit of Motown and Country music being played around the house, that’s always stayed with me, but I guess I was about 11 or 12 when I really started finding my own tastes, either by chance or by friends recommending albums. I remember finding a cassette with a 90min John Lennon radio special on it and I’ve been hooked on The Beatles ever since, so Lennon and McCartney are at the top of my list. Also Pink Floyd, I think David Gilmour is my favourite guitarist and Roger Waters is one hell of a song writer. Then there’s the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Morrissey and Leonard Cohen who are not just amazing lyricists but are excellent musicians and each have their own unique vocal styles too. And I listen to a fair bit of Blues too, from Son House, LeadBelly, Bessie Smith and Josh White to Eric Clapton and Peter Green. Then in my teens and 20s I also listened to a lot of The Who, AC/DC, Paul Weller, R.E.M., Ocean Colour Scene and more recently the likes of Father John Misty, Jack White, M Ward, and Head And The Heart are on my playlists too, but I also like to find out who influences all these people I listen to too, and it nearly always ends back to the Blues. It’s at the heart of most guitar music.
How would you describe your sound?
I guess we’re a mix of Blues and Rock and Roll, with a bit of Country thrown in, but sometimes that depends on whether we play electric or acoustic. We work quite hard on harmonies too which I think gives us a distinct sound. When writing I try make the song I’m working on differ from anything else we’ve done. I much prefer to hear other people’s description of our sound though, just because we never set out to be a certain genre and it’s always interesting to listen to what other people think we sound like.
What’s your local music scene like?
Well we tend to gig mainly in Liverpool and obviously it has its own musical history, but it’s always thriving with new music. There have been a few venue closures over the years but that hasn’t dampened any spirits, and there are some great promoters out there who are ready help give you a chance to get your music heard. There’s far too many bands and artists to mention by name, and I wouldn’t want to miss anyone out, but if you find any venue with live music on in Liverpool and I’m sure you’ll find something you like. There’s a lot of talented folk up here.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I’m always writing and currently working on a collection of songs with a certain theme, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. We will keep rehearsing, gigging and recording as we have always done. We don’t have a very busy schedule but If something comes up that we like the sound of, we tend to concentrate on that and make sure everything goes as planned and everybody is happy.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
All of the people mentioned above, although I’ve never really collaborated with anyone musically apart from the bands I’ve been in. I’m not sure how my input would be received by someone who’s sold millions of records, but I’d give it a go. I’d love to spend some studio time with Ennio Morricone, I love his classical stuff as well as his more well known movie soundtracks, but it’d be interesting to see what he could do with one of my songs.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
We are a very relaxed group and, like most bands, we like a few drinks and we always have a laugh whether it’s rehearsing, recording or playing live. I can’t think of anything funny enough that it’s stuck in my mind but we have our moments and it’s never been boring.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about your band?
Well we work pretty hard at what we do and we’ve only ever been in it for the music, so as long as the end product sounds great and we had a good time while creating something that we are proud of, we’re happy.