Monday, 22 April 2013

The Clive Continuum

Clive Smith's final piece in his Continuum offering advice to young up and coming bands. Look back trhough the blog for the others, or wait til we compile them onto one page quite soon. Clive also has a column in Rhubarb Bomb the zine, and is on Twitter, though probably not for much longer (he says).

Knowing When To Quit.

There is this fog. It descends from time to time. Often I'll spend days in there. I'm long past trying to find a way out because you could be three feet from the edge and you wouldn't know, because fog is thick and dense and spooky. I just hang around waiting for it to leave. It never feels like it will, then one day, with little drama, I realise it's gone and I can circle round finding the horizon line once more.

Life's a struggle, kids. You aint special in your suffering. But perhaps if we had wider acceptance of each others gloom, it'd be easier for us all. Then, instead of getting heckles and people questioning the point of my art, they'd just let me get on with it.

I work hard. I try and point this out on Twitter all the time. I think it's important people know where I am and what I'm doing and what I think about it. But sadly, it all gets lost in the flotsam and jetsam of other people's nonsense.

Aren't some people addicted to the social medium? I will likely stop soon. It's important to know when to stop. I had a big problem with prescription drugs in the '80s. I'm not trying to sound cool, but it did help my music for a while, and certainly the gruelling live schedule I was hammering at the time. But I could see what it was doing to me - I had the self awareness to know I was becoming the thing I rallied against in my songs, so after two weeks, I went cold turkey. It was hard, but then so am I.

People are like that with their thoughts, flopping out of their brains like a tin of cheap dog food. They've made it normal to release their thoughts to the world without thinking. The Russians tried to figure out how to do that for years with their mindrays - now people have done it of their own volition.

I just want to sit home doing my rock and roll these days. That might make me sound old and dull, but that just shows how mental you are as a person. I don't need anyone's thumbs up, no big-shot coming to my show and nodding along. I don't need to be that try hard kid, that desperate wide eyed slave to cool.

I just write my songs at home, for me. And record them myself. I've been there and done that - playing the live shows, being chased by the women (and the men). I MADE IT, I'm TELLING YOU, I made IT. I refused to follow the 'proper' path, refused to do as I was told and didn't bother with convention. I didn't sell out by bothering to promote my records, or saying thank you to the people who helped me out, or doing anything that interrupted the sweet flow of my life. If I wanted a scollop butty, I went and got one, you get me?

I don't wish I was back in the eighties. I hate nostalgia; as dear Mrs Clara Smith will tell you - I never look back, never dare repeat history. But whilst I don't wish I was back in the 80s, I wouldn't mind it being the '80s again. Everything made sense then. People listened to me then. It was sunny every day. It was never foggy.

I remember one long weekend in Grimsby, kind of a celebration of Maggie's win for government. Clara and I were walking the docks (I was looking for potential song-titles in the ship names) and there was this mist hugging round our feet. It was really strange. The rest of the day was glorious, bathed in sunlight. I'd forgotten til I started typing this here, but we were making up from an argument we'd had the previous evening. She wanted me to stop with the music. Not completely, but being away from home so often, sometimes for weeks at an end, whilst I worked on drum sounds in Lobley's shed (he had a sleeping bag I'd use). Life on the road was causing problems for us. She couldn't see it made me who I am.

By coincidence, I came across an old school pal of mine, working down on the docks. He was loading up his ship, was sailing to Spain, then an exotic holiday location. We reminisced about the beat-combo we had back at school, Clive Gets Caned, and laughed a lot.

An hour later I was setting sail with him for a tour of Spain. I looked back to shore as the ship left, Clara there, mist around her feet, tear in her eye. Even then, she wouldn't stop. "Don't go Clive" she said. I wish she'd understood, but she just kept on. She didn't know when to stop.

Of course, that Spain tour led to me meeting flamenco legend Hose Guitario, who influenced my work heavily for many weeks. You have to keep moving forward, whatever the costs.

That's why I am the success I am. But the truth is, you do have to know when to stop. Give that some thought right now. You have to know when to stop. Because let's face it; you aint ever gonna catch Clive. You aint ever gonna beat me. So stop. No-one likes you anyway.

Clive Smith

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