Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Clive Continuum

The Clive Continuum
“Side Projects” (see also: "Lyrics")

Clive Smith has been around for an awful long time. Awfully long. An enigma, a maverick, a pioneer; he has described himself as these things and many, many more. Now, with the weight of experience crushing his increasingly fragile mind and body, he has begun developing The Clive Continuum, a series of works that act as his passing of the flame to younger artists and visionaries. Learn from his mistakes, for if it could ever go wrong, it went wrong for Clive.

Side projects are one of the most important parts of being in a band. The bottom line is; people love people in bands. Especially other people in bands. But especially people who aren’t in bands.

I appreciate not everyone out there is as deep – emotionally or talent wise – as Clive Smith. My talent is like a well that never dries up, like a hole to the centre of the earth. Not my words, but the words of Lobley PR, circa 1976. Prophetic, I think you’ll agree. Perhaps that simile made me out to be a bit too deep but hey, we all have a cross to carry.

But those of you with a shallower burden can most definitely benefit from the creation of a few side projects. If you are worried you won’t have the time, don’t be. 63% of all side projects are completely theoretical. I’ve been a member of The Buff Harrington Jazz Massacre since 1993 but we’ve not had so much as a band practice. Still got a Myspace page though, haven’t we? Still on my CV, isn’t it? Still sounds cool, doesn’t it?

It’s all about perception. By announcing you have a side project to “better express the darker side of your music”, for example, you heighten interest in both your old and new music. It is interest squared. Imagine if you then create a side project to express your sardonic side? Or your aloof side? Or your deluded side? It is interest to the power of infinity!

Music is the least important thing about a side project. Your top priority should be a cool logo and an overly ambitious set of aims. Quickly follow this with a series of promotional photographs. Be mysterious. Pose in shadowy places, perhaps even a derelict building or something, have you thought of that?

Now, all the time and energy you could be spending on your real band? Put that into making a suggestive, enigmatic video, announcing your imminent arrival. In my day we made little flyers and stickers and stuck em in bogs and copies of The Daily Mail. In the ‘60s we had “Peace + Love = Clive Smith”. In the ‘70s I think we went for “Fuck Clive Smith” (which were popular) and “Clive Smith Is Watching You” for the ‘80s, which was creepy and sinister. These days, you can do all this on the internet (if you are ‘online’) and by sticking your crap over everyone’s pages they will quickly be talking about you all over town, completely forgetting your old band ever existed.

Which might sound ludicrous. But remember; you are playing the long game. And besides, if you were talented or your real band was actually any good, you would be flexible enough to fulfil all your musical ambitions within it. Clive (that is I) is different in this respect. I am a chameleon, a ghostly figure that stalks the realms of Pop, beckoning it to previously unknown territories, like a farmer with his sheepdog. Except I am the farmer AND the sheepdog (the field is Pop and you are the sheep – keeping up?). Anyway, basically it goes like this: Bowie > Smith > Barlow.

Finally, who should be in your side project? I touched earlier on the worry of not having enough time. And the cost of running two or more bands can be restrictive. So here is my top tip: recruit for your side project from your real band. So what if the lineup is exactly the same? You can double up band practices. Promo shots are interchangeable. Maybe let the drummer play a bit of sax? Mix things up of course. BECAUSE THIS IS DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT BAND. You know that. And we can tell because the sound is so radically different.

A side project is about the perception of being something different. Whether that perception is perceived in the minds of your fans, or simply your own is down to these simple rules. Ta.

Clive Smith

Clive also writes for Rhubarb Bomb and can be found on Twitter

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