HomeEF CountryInterview: Rob Clamp discusses new single 'Adelaide' and supporting Mike Dawes

Interview: Rob Clamp discusses new single ‘Adelaide’ and supporting Mike Dawes

Acoustic singer-songwriter Rob Clamp is making a name for himself on the South Coast of England in the Country, Folk and Americana communities with his strong vocals, powerful lyrics and entertaining live performances.

With new single ‘Adelaide’ coming at the end of the month, Clamp is ready to build on the success he’s been having that started with 2020 debut single ‘Wind In My Hair’. Influenced by the likes of Ben Howard, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen, Clamp has been steadily growing his fanbase by being active on the live circuit.

I sat down with him to talk about writing songs about Tinder, his recent support slot with acoustic virtuoso Mike Dawes and more…

Hi Rob, thanks for taking the time today to chat, how are you?

I’m not bad thanks Neil, yourself? 

I’m well thanks. It’s great to talk to a true Southerner like myself with you hailing from Southampton, tell me a little bit about your musical style because you’ve got a few different arrows to your bow musically with some older and newer influences.

You could certainly say though I’m from Southampton, most of my influences don’t even come from these shores in the most part. I have had a real interest in the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac, especially growing up in a household where the latter were constantly played on repeat. In recent years my influences stem from the likes of The Lumineers and Jason Isbell – Isbell being someone I was lucky enough to go and see towards the end of last year.

You claim that a lot of your influence comes from travelling too, were you travelling for a while and how did that affect your writing?

I did most of my travelling before I was 25, taking several gap years in Australia, South East Asia, America and South America – my last experiences travelling South East Asia with my best mate led to us buying an acoustic guitar on arrival in Vietnam and then playing it most of our way around the continent. I think in periods of time where my songwriting has been most frivolous has stemmed from my longing to travel more, there are certainly songs which both reflect on my travelling experiences but also highlight my desire to travel again. 

What is your approach to songwriting? Is it quite structured or more of a case of waiting for the muse to come?

I don’t tend to have a particular method of songwriting. I would say it’s very unlikely that I’ll get something written if I don’t have a guitar in my hand though. A lot of my songs stem from acoustic riffs and those tend to come from hours and days of repetition. I work incredibly hard at my lyrics but I’ve always found the first line or two of a song so important, it can make or break a track for me. I’ll tend to write about 100 songs and only end up being happy with a handful; less than that sometimes.

You’ve just had the pleasure of supporting the incredible Mike Dawes at The Arc in Winchester, what was that experience like supporting one of the worlds best acoustic artists?

Supporting Mike was fantastic, really nice guy off stage as well. I can normally pride myself on my ability to play a mean acoustic guitar riff but Mike certainly blew me out the water that night, I really don’t mind that to be fair, he is literally one of the very best in the world.

Rob Clamp
Credit: Rob Clamp

Last month you just won The Twang Factor 3 with Americana UK, tell me a little about that too.

I have a few friends at The Railway in Winchester who are keen readers of the Americana UK website and they suggested I enter The Twang Factor 3. I was thrilled to win, especially considering the standard of the other contestants – the thing that blew my mind was to see my name at the top of the website next to an interview with Jason Isbell. I’m a big fan of his so that was something that kind of hit home.

You released some great music in 2022 and I’d just like to focus on a couple of tracks starting with ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’. Would you mind delving into the background on this one.

‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ is a song that I wrote after my Grandmother was flicking through an old family photo album and we came across photos of two men in WW1 uniform. One being my Great Uncle and the other being my Great Great Grandfather (father and son). It turned out this was the last photo taken of my Great Uncle as he sadly lost his life in the trenches, my Great Great Grandfather however returned home after the war and apparently wasn’t ever quite the same. I was actually reading a book called ‘Somme Mud’ by an Australian infantryman, Edward Lynch at the time – a book considered by many to be a reflective Allied example of the best selling book ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’. I drew upon both of these books and wrote the song – I think I wrote it more for what my Great Great Grandfather would have wanted to say than anything else. 

That’s powerful and it’s fantastic live. On the other hand, I don’t know many artists who’ve released a song with a secondary title of ‘The Tinder Song’. Tell me about how that came about or do I not want to know?!

The Tinder Song was kind of a joke song at first, I really didn’t take it seriously and wasn’t planning to release it. I played it to a few friends and they suggested I may as well put it out there and now it tends to go down quite well with a good crowd. It’s about the idea that you would meet up with someone from a dating site and wouldn’t pay an awful amount to what they have to say because you’re too busy working out if you’re attracted to them or not – I think it’s something most people in the modern world of dating have to go through. You actually tend to know people quite well by the time you meet them because you’ve spent a few days or so messaging each other before hand. 

You’ve got a new single coming out ‘Adelaide’, presuming that ties in with the travel side of things, what can we expect to hear from that? 

I can’t wait to release Adelaide, it’s a song I’ve been sitting on for a while and one that I’ve had requested off fans for quite some time. It’s a song I wrote about how life in the city can change overnight if you’re in the wrong part of town; stemming back to my time in Australia. Myself and the guys at Sunrise Sound Studios put in some serious time recording it so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of response it gets. It’s out March 31st!

You’ve got a fantastic voice. It’s powerful yet delicate and it really compliments what you do guitar wise as well. Were you a singer first or a guitarist first or was it something that naturally came together at the same time?

Thanks, I literally couldn’t tell you whether I’m more of a singer or a guitarist. I literally don’t feel particularly comfortable doing one without the other. I do actually tend to struggle to put as much passion into my vocals when I’m singing without the guitar as well; I’m not sure why, I just don’t get the same feeling performing without the instrument. Ironically, I was actually a drummer before everything else, though I’m beyond useless at percussion now, unless it’s with my feet.

You’ve got a busy schedule coming up gig wise with a lot of focus on gigs on the South coast, what else do we have to look forward to for the rest of the year?

I am heavily booked up for most of the year, frustratingly though I have to keep my cards close to my chest with a lot of the shows though. I’ll be heading further affield and I’ve got some really exciting festivals coming up – I’m just going to get in trouble if I let slip what I’m doing haha! 

Not that your own band isn’t great when you play alongside them, with your variety of influences, if you could have your own dream band to play alongside you who would it be? One bass player, one guitarist, one drummer and one vocalist?

In terms of an all time band that I would love to play with… that is a really good question… Keith Moon on drums – I’ve got a soft spot for the outrageous and he certainly was that. John Mcvie would be the basist I would go for – unasuming but a pioneer all the same. Guitarist I would have to put Lindsey Buckingham or Jason Isbell in there – different types of guitarist, but both fantastic writers in their own right as well. The vocalist I would go for would be John Denver. From what I gather he used to perform entire tours to thousands solo and could hold a room with just him and an acoustic guitar. 

Rob Clamp’s new single ‘Adelaide’ will be released on 31st March 2023. Find out more about Rob at https://www.robclampmusic.com.

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