Despite, or maybe because of the fact, they come from Cheltenham (Melbourne’s bayside suburb for old folk), four-piece punk outfit Clowns rock way hard. They’ve been knocking about together since about 2010, but have achieved a remarkable amount in a super short space of time, not the least including their tours of China and South East Asia (the latter of which involved shows in the kookiest places – an ice-cream parlour on a Tuesday night, playing to 300 kids, and car parks) and their debut album, I’m Not Right, came in at number five on Triple J’s Short.Fast.Loud Top 40 releases of 2013.
The band is named ironically. They hate clowns (with respect, don’t we all) and they take what they do, but not themselves, seriously. It’s not an easy balance, but we know it to be true for a couple of reasons. First, they took a couple of years off uni, not to fuck about and travel, but to make damn sure the band was good. Secondly, they’re not afraid to take pictures of themselves pissing or jumping of a roof, all in the name of good fun. It’s all about balance, right.
Kinda cut for the same cloth as the Meanies and the Hard-Ons, Clowns are open about their influences. “Over the last four or five years, I’ve been blasting nothing but the Hard-Ons or the Meanies,” Laderman admits. “The first time I heard the Meanies was probably when I was finishing high school. The first video I ever saw of them was them playing Scum at the Big Day Out. Link [Meanie’s] vocals were so crazy and he was such a showman. He had absolutely no care for himself, his body or his own well-being, he just throws himself around.
“As a band, that was something we wanted to replicate when we first started, just create to anarchy. I can’t remember how many pubs we got kicked out of for breaking glasses and being reckless, but since then we’ve got a bit more respect and try not to break things as much.”
Happily for them and us, Clowns have toured subsequently with both the Hard-Ons and the Meanies. “It’s pretty crazy,” Laderman laughs. “It’s not something you expect to do when you start a band. It was certainly something we wanted to do and pushed for, but it’s a dream come true really – getting to watch Blackie [Peter “Blackie” Black, the Hard-Ons’ guitarist] a couple of nights a week in a row is pretty phenomenal.”
Not only do Clowns have a sense of humility, they’re also pretty smart – especially Joe Hanson, their guitarist. “Joe is a really smart guy, I’ll start with that,” Laderman chortles. “He’s easily the most intelligent and academic member of the band. He’s always been very switched on. He didn’t have a job for a long time – I think he was trying for a get rich quick scheme. He went on Millionaire Hot Seat first and lost, which was kind of funny and we all gave him shit for it. But then out of nowhere, he rolled up to band practice one night and said, ‘I went on Million Dollar Minute today and won 26 grand,’ which was probably the best timing ever for us.
“I recall having a conversation with our vocalist, Stevie [Williams], on the way to that practice and both of us were down about how much money the band had and all of the things we wanted to do. So, when Joe told us that he’d won 26 grand, it meant that we could disregard that whole conversation.” Testament to his good nature, Hanson has indeed devoted the winnings to the band (and he’s not even a founding member).
In preparing for the interview, we’d discovered that the cops pulled the plug on Clowns at their Pony launch show. We ask Laderman to elaborate, but it turns out it wasn’t quite as rock’n’roll as it sounds. “The cops just rocked up and we didn’t know why, they just strolled in and came on stage and stopped us mid song,” Laderman recalls. “They asked if my sister was there, which she was. In my head I was thinking, ‘fuck, what’s she done.’ I don’t actually recall what it was, but it was nothing that serious, so there was no real reason to stop the show. As much as I’d like to say it was something silly that we were doing, it wasn’t. It was just really quite random and the photo made us look a lot more bad arse then we actually were. It’s a pretty good representation of Pony (now Boney) in general though. For the last five years, every night ended at Pony and cops were often involved.”
CLOWNS play Friday March 6 at the Bendigo Hotel, Sunday March 8 at Karova Lounge and Monday March 9 back at the Bendigo Hotel. You can pre-order their cracking new album, Bad Blood, from Poison City Records’ e-store.