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A Dirty Dozen with CLOCKWISE ON FIRE – November 2021

| 10 November 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Clockwise On Fire is the musical union of longtime friends and collaborators Tim Arnold [Good Old War, Anthony Green] and Brian Lynch. The duo, who blur the lines between eloquent songcraft and instrumental fluidity, channel a spirit of unbridled freedom on their forthcoming debut album. On the 8-song collection, mixed by Jason Cupp [Maps and Atlases, American Football, Milk Carton Kids, Good Old War], Tim contributes drums, percussion, synths, and keyboards, while Brian holds down guitar, bass, synths and keyboards, with both sharing lyrical and vocal duties. Album opener “Dig” is about letting go of a love and allowing your ex-partner to move on. Funkified guitar weaves in and out of a head-nodding beat as the vocals lock on to the eerily chantable hook, “If you want, you can dig a grave for my love,” before a sidewinder solo soars. Brian and Tim first began playing music together during middle school in the Philly suburbs, experimenting, improvising, and exploring sounds at a formative age together. After high school, life carried the musicians down separate roads. Tim co-founded Good Old War, releasing four full-length albums and four EPs in addition to touring nationally, while Brian stayed local performing in various bands. In 2017, the two reconnected and launched a Primus cover band, Los Bastardos, and by 2019 had started collaborating on original music. Even in the face of the pandemic, Tim and Brian were locked into an unbreakable groove, resulting in Clockwise On Fire. Ultimately, Clockwise On Fire is now welcoming everyone into their weird, wild, and wonderful musical conversation between two old friends.” We get the duo to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Tim: I feel like there are certain things that are kind of buried in the mix that will reveal themselves after a few listens. Jason Cupp mixed this record and he’s a genius so there are layers to be explored. We went all out with the instrumentation, and he managed it really tastefully. Also, the sample I pulled for “Latework” is from a lecture by Terrence McKenna, who, if you’re aware, is a supernatural shaman who has much to teach the human species.

Brian: I agree that there are a lot of layers to the songs and some more atmospheric sounds that you might notice more on repeated listens if you didn’t hear them the first time around. There are also some pretty cool transitions between a couple of the songs that Jason helped with to give a really cool flow at certain points.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Tim: I was always into music because it was always playing in my house growing up. Oldies in the car with my mom and Frank Zappa on the stereo at home. Musicals were always on the TV and piano and other instrument lessons were required as well. What’s really fantastic is that the moment I realized I wanted to be a musician my friend Brian Lynch was by my side jamming in my basement. Those improvisational explorations really allowed for me to get lost in music and captivated me. Here we are 25 years later, and I’m still totally amazed by the power and complexity of music every day.

Brian: My parents were also very into music. My Dad was always into rock music and my mom was into rock music but then her taste kind of shifted into acoustic guitar virtuosos like Leo Kottke and Tommy Emmanuel, but music was always a big part of our household growing up. I think the grunge scene explosion was probably the first thing that really got me super into music. Learning Nirvana songs was kind of the first time I really got into playing guitar and then me and my younger sister would attempt to make our own grunge songs when I was in early middle school, and she was in elementary school. I think the first time I realized I wanted to be a musician was probably when I played with a band for the very first time, a band Tim also happened to be in.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Tim: Frank Zappa You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore Helsinki Concert and Phish’s A Live One got worn out because I studied them. Unbelievable magic happened at those concerts. And set the bar extremely high for me. I still strive to be able to improvise with as much confidence and style as those powerhouse artists.

Brian: I remember being in 8th grade and being obsessed with Rage Against the Machine Evil Empire and The Bends by Radiohead. I pretty much only listened to those 2 albums for quite a while, so those were the first albums that I really got into hardcore, and both have definitely impacted my taste and are still favorites of mine today.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Tim: I want to collaborate with Cristobal Tapia De Veer, the composer of the White Lotus TV show score. I connected very strongly with that music and feel like we would vibe.

Brian: I would love to collaborate with David Byrne because I love his music so much, but also because he always brings an original incredible performance art aspect to his shows.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Tim: I like hanging out with my girls and playing video games or reading when it’s just me.

Brian: Besides hanging with my wife and my son, I’m a big time Philly sports fan, but in reality, that’s much more like self-torment than unwinding.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Tim: I feel like that’s a tough one because we purposely put no limitations on where we could go in terms of genre, but the ethos of the band is free flowing creativity and being as weird as we wanna be. Maybe psych rock? Jam band? Freak rock? You got me. All of the comparisons people have made have been pretty inoffensive so I’m grateful for that.

Brian: I kind of go with saying it’s like psychedelic, funky, at times hard rock, and then typically just list some of the bands that may have been most influential like Talking Heads, Primus, Zappa.  I agree with Tim that thus far nothing offensive as far as comparisons, so we’ll take it.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Tim: I would say I cook; Lynch gets the drinks, and we bypass the acoustic for an impromptu basement jam.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Tim: I rarely get star struck but the last concert I went to was YoYo Ma at the Kimmel Center in Philly with the Philadelphia Orchestra and I was bowled over and fanning out.

Brian: I had the amazing opportunity to attend an SNL afterparty years ago when one of our best friends got us tickets through someone connected to the show in some way. We were surrounded by the cast and crew and many other famous people, but Paul McCartney actually came over and started talking with us and I felt like Chris Farley in the infamous skit. He was as charming and incredible as you would imagine. He even sang a very quick “Happy Birthday” to our friend who was celebrating her birthday in his whimsical and magical way. That was a night for the ages!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Tim: The best part of being a musician is the freedom to choose how you want to shape your life and the things you do with it. It’s definitely a lifestyle and it’s not for everyone. There are downsides but I choose to focus on the beautiful side of music as a career. I wanted to be a comic book artist before I got into music, but truly I’ve never considered another line of work since I began playing drums. Everything else just didn’t interest me.

Brian: For me, the best part of being a musician is just the amazing feeling you get when you are creating something. I can be just noodling around on the guitar or toying with some synth sounds and then at some point something stands out and it’s like “Hey, that’s cool. Let’s see where we can go with this”. Then as you build and add to it, it’s just a magical process and something that once you’ve felt it, you just want to keep doing it over and over again. If I wasn’t a musician, I would probably go back to programming, because the inner nerd in me likes logic puzzles and problem solving.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Tim: My favorite questions are the ones I’ve never heard before so I couldn’t tell you what my ideal question would be. The question I’m tired of answering is the who/what is your favorite ____?  There has never been one single musician or artist that I could pick because who I want to listen to or read or look at changes all the time. I’m terrible at ranking my favorite things and I won’t take it anymore! Haha.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Tim: I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my career, my training as a musician and as a human being in life but I feel like it all led me to this place so perhaps it is all part of the cosmic plan. I’m very excited about the current situation so I’m grateful for any mistake or misstep I’ve made because I was able to learn from all of them.

Brian: There’s not really anything that I regret over my fragmented music career, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this situation right now. If anything, maybe I wish in my earlier bands that I had worked a little bit harder and practiced more, but we had a great time, played some really fun shows, and some great friendships and some cool songs came out of it. There was just a lot of material that I had written or partially written from those times that never were performed live or recorded as more than just demos. Tim and I are actually starting to work on some of the material from that era though, so it’s really exciting to be bringing them back into the fold and taking them to new places.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Tim: I have always wanted to go back to New York City in the 70’s and hang out with the Warhol freaks and all the cool bands happening in that scene. I live for that stuff.

Brian: I feel like the obvious answer is Abbey Road for a Beatles album, but that’s not very original, so I’m going to go with Beck’s Midnite Vultures. I just love that album so much. It’s energetic, it’s funny, it makes you wanna dance and there’s just a vibe to it. I feel like it had to be a blast to make, so I’m going with that!




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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