David C Clements is the kind of modern singer-songwriter that, whilst legitimately making a case for musicians wearing their hearts on their sleeves, operates with the kind of confidence and surety that is befitting to his mixed bag of indie-pop-folk-etc. His songs are often emotional; striking balances between heartfelt soliloquies and energetic, anthemic musings on modern existence, and having proved himself over the course of the past decade, through various musical guises, latest album The Longest Day In History seems like a worthy climax to a career spent honing his craft. We chat to David about how it all came together.
What can you tell us about the recording process? The Longest Day In History seems to have come out pretty quickly after My Dear Mother, what was the reasoning behind this?
I started recording The Longest Day in History around two years ago with Michael Keeney in his studio in Bangor. We did most of the album there along with a few days in Attica Audio in Donegal where we recorded live with my band. We took those live recordings and crafted them in to an album. Some of the most productive days were when I called in to see Michael for a couple of hours, grabbed a coffee and messed about on the guitar. That relaxed environment lead to some of the best ideas. We brought out My Dear Mother as a way of introducing the new material, so that people wouldn’t have to digest a full album all at once. I hadn’t released anything for a long time so it was a way of warming things up before releasing the album
A recent review of the new album pegged you as “Springsteenesque” – how do you feel about artist comparisons like these?
I love Springsteen’s stuff. To be likened to someone who writes and sings with such passion is a big compliment. I like that his music is very ‘song’ driven and that seems to craft his style.
Your music seems to tow the line between a few styles but having been involved in bands for years now – do you find songs are shaped naturally or do you set out to achieve a certain sonic aesthetic when writing? Do you look backwards, to other projects you’ve been involved with, or forwards into experimentation or the unknown?
I think it’s a bit of both. You’re always going to be influenced by the other work you’ve done, even if it’s how you don’t want to do things. I’ve played alt rock music and I’ve played much quieter singer-songwriter music, now I find myself somewhere in between and at the moment that’s somewhere I feel very comfortable. I started writing just me and a guitar, but I always wanted the energy and vibe that comes from having a band back up those songs.
Are generic labels like indie/pop/folk/rock etc. a heavy burden to bear for an artist these days?
I just find it hard to say what sort of music I play, and I don’t mean in any sort of pretentious way. I think lots of music at the moment takes its influence from different genres and can be hard to pin down. I’m more interested in whether I think it’s good music or not!
Are there any artists, or wider influences (art, film, literature, etc.), that you would cite has having had some effect on either the way The Longest Day In History came to be, or on your writing process in general?
I find it hard to tie down exactly my influences when it comes to writing. Ideas have a way of just happening, which is great when you have loads of them but not so great when they dry up for a bit. Mostly my writing is influenced by my life and experiences, whether I can trace them back or not.
Tell us a little bit about the ‘Making Of’ documentary you made for the album – was it something that happened off-the-cuff or was there a plan to create a memento of the period?
It was shot by my good friend Gregg Houston of Babysweet sessions. He shot some footage of me years ago playing in London’s Union Chapel and I’ve always said if I got to record an album I’d love him to document it. I just love Gregg’s style. He’s created a good representation of the recording process, lots of little subtle moments that come together to create something special.
What about live work, are there plans to extensively tour with the new album or are you keeping touring to a minimum? Where would you like to play this year?
I’d love to get playing some more shows. We’re heading off to SXSW in March with the band which we’re all really excited about. We’re also playing a show in Limelight 1 on 11th March to celebrate the release of the album. We’ve got Luke Sital-Singh coming over to play at that too.
Finally, are you planning to jump straight back into recording or creating new music? What’s on the cards for the rest of 2016?
The plan at the moment is to push this album out there as far as we can get it.
You can catch David celebrate the launch of The Longest Day in History this Friday at the Limelight, Belfast. Tickets for the show can be found here.