What’s in a band name? The days of descriptive and memorable rock monikers feel almost as distant as the eight-track. Blogger darlings as varied as Ghost, DIIV and Snoop Lion change names with seemingly little thought. But it’s unlikely that anyone who hears the newly-released This May Not Work. or stops by Williamsburg’s Spike Hill on Tuesday, July 30 will forget that the band is called Another Dead Clown.
“The name started as a joke when my friend Greg and I were teenagers,” says vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Chris O’Keeffe. “We had too much stage fright to actually perform, but we would make fake posters and hang them up around town, tell people how great the previous night’s show was, and just generally lie about the existence of this fake band.”
Fake no more, as heard on This May Not Work.‘s winsome nine songs. Kicking off with the soaring outdoor soundtrack “Akashic Field,” This May Not Work. runs traditional Americana through 21st century indie rock, linked by lively performances and an intimate, communal atmosphere. The yearning “Eight Miles to Ludlow” and the Meagan Brus-sung “For the Aeroplane (You Could, You Could)” deserve spots on your next romantic mix tape, and the polyphonous “Eva’s Guitar” builds a rolling piano line into the kind of rousing singalong that the Decemberists are still searching for. ADC channels Elvis Costello on the impassioned, intricate melodies of “Pyramids,” then honors the Pogues songs that he produced on the lovely “Drinking Song #4.” Charming without being cloying, This May Not Work. will renew your faith in irony-free, unaffected indie.
“I love the idea of creating genre songs,” says O’Keeffe, citing the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs and the Lemonheads’ Come on Feel the Lemonheads as two primary influences. “The Magnetic Fields mastered the idea of the collapsible, telescoping studio band on that record, and that was a starting point for This May Not Work.“
“I think we achieved that to some extent on the new album. You never quite know what’s around the bend when a song ends, and some of the songs end up in quite different places than they begin. Some of the songs start off with one or two people and by the end there are 12 parts going on. Recording is different than playing live in that you can have a horn section or a pedal steel guitar show up for one section of a song and then disappear.”
Recorded in a friend’s barn in Western MA (O’Keeffe is from Cambridge) with producer Chris Abell, O’Keeffe remembers the album’s eventual title coming up often during recording (“Hey Chris, this may not work, but…”) The final masters reflect the unconventional recording environment, giving This May Not Work. extra character and unpredictability. “You can hear bats, goats, brakes, and all kinds of weird things on the recordings if you listen closely,” notes O’Keeffe. It’s great, it’ll be some serious lyrical moment and you can hear a goat bleating in the background.”
It’s a spontaneity that carries over to the band’s live performances, where guest musicians, audience members and stray passerbys are often encouraged to take the stage for a song or three. “We try to foster a relaxed and collaborative environment, says O’Keeffe. “We give away instruments and solos. If we can get someone on stage who has never performed before then it’s a good night.”
Count on enjoying yourself at Spike Hill this Tuesday, either by the stage or from it.
Another Dead Clown headlines at Spike Hill on Tuesday, July 30. The show is free and starts at 7pm. For more information, visit AnotherDeadClown.com or like them on Facebook.