“With social media, there is no time for anything and everything is so quick. We wanted the song to reflect this.”

HENRY’S FUNERAL SHOE have a new album out. Smartphone Rabbit Hole is an eclectic selection of tunes that all tell a different story. One, as the title suggests, looks into our obsession with social media. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to vocalist/guitarist Aled Clifford about the new album, touring these songs on the road and their plans for the rest of the year.

Along with your brother, you have both released a new album Smartphone Rabbit Hole. Am I right in thinking that it’s about our obsession with phones and how much time we spend online?

One of the songs is based on that, particularly screen time and social media. I thought it was a catchy title as well because a lot of us have a smartphone. When you’re at a bus stop nowadays, no-one is reading a book or looking around they are just on their smartphones. That was the idea behind one of the songs, I liked the title as well and thought it would make a good stand out album title.

I think it’s that song where I hear the lyrics “can you believe the lies”. Particularly now where you can read news and manipulate what people see on your social media.

Everything is a lie even on Facebook, there’s no way someone can be that happy all the time. There are so many filters too, particularly on photos too. I hardly recognise half the friends because they often take pictures of themselves, use one of many filters and put them online. It’s just weird. You have friends on your Facebook that you don’t even speak to in real life, they’re not your actual friends.

I particularly liked the anarchic sounds in the song Smartphone Rabbit Hole.

It was the last song we wrote for the album when we were trying out all of our other songs. They just weren’t working for whatever reason and that particular song came out of frustration, it has the aggression from early rockabilly. Everything in that track is really frantic and phonetic, that’s we wanted because that’s what social media is like. With social media, there is no time for anything and every is so quick. We wanted the song to reflect this.

There is a good variety of tracks across the album, Right Time comes to mind and that track is quite mellow.

We like to mix it up because we’re never going to play those songs live while we’re touring. I think the idea is to give people a collection of songs they can hear live and then the album you takeaway that’s going to be a different experience. That’s the idea. Otherwise you’re doing what you have just done on the album and because we’re a duo, we can’t do things like extended guitar solos. 

We do the odd things we can get away with but we’re quite limited when it comes to our live shows. The idea is giving people a different experience when they listen to it. When we do record a live album, which is on the cards, we will take a full band and a horn section where people will get a different experience again. 

I don’t listen to one type of music; I don’t listen to the type of music we make. I listen to country music and jazz. It just what happens when we’re in a room together, that’s the sound we make. We do get compared to The White Stripes but I don’t listen to that type of music. It’s exciting music to play that we created by accident so we just go with it.

Would you say your wide music palette helps influence your music?

Yes absolute. I don’t understand those people who listen to just one type of music. I tend to miss the boat on the latest stuff. I grew up in the nineties, I was into the whole Nirvana thing but then I would listen the 30s music. Nirvana were the first band I got into when I was a teenager, I also discovered people like Robert Johnson and Sunhouse which I was really into. Where you know a lot about Nirvana, at the time this was all a mystery to me and having to look out for it. 

During the late nineties when Oasis came into play, I didn’t have a clue who they were. I was so immersed into this country music, I missed all of that. I remember a guitar teacher in school asking me if I had heard of Oasis and he couldn’t believe it. 

It’s states on your press release that you have influences from bands on vinyl your dad owned.

Yes, I suppose. The odd thing about my brother is that he is a phenomenal drummer, he’s probably one of the best I played with but he doesn’t listen to music, he loves playing the drums. The weird thing is; I can ask him to do certain drum parts and they always sound his own because he can’t copy anyone as doesn’t listen to music. I sing him different parts to play because I am like a frustrated drummer, I would love to be able to do it. He just does it, it’s great because I know it’s completely on his own merit. 

Are they any songs on Smartphone Rabbit Hole you are looking forward to playing live?

Well, we haven’t played Smartphone Rabbit Hole live so we’re testing that one out because it’s got a guitar solo in it. What I tend to do, to make things a little bit different, is I make up my own guitar tunings and settings on the pedals. I have to make notes on what they are because I have written songs before and I can’t remember what settings I have used, which was quite frustrating. We’re trying to nail that one.

Quick As A Hiccough is going down really well. Damn Right I Mean It, if we can nail that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We just need time to embed that in. Same Boat Different Sail goes down really well too. We’re trying each song out as we’re touring and gigging, we’re trying things out so it’s just Smartphone Rabbit Hole right now that we need to get into the set. We won’t do Right Time at the moment but we’re going to do a video for that.

We have road tested a lot of the tracks already. We have even done The Fear which is quite tricky but we managed to pull it off.

What does the rest of the year hold for Henry’s Funeral Shoe?

We are booking as many shows for next year as we can to promote the album. We have some tours lined up that have been finalised. They will be European tours I think because we have a European agent who is really good. There is UK tour in the pipeline I think for April. European tour will take place in February/March and then back in Europe in the summer. Then of course some festivals.

The money is on the road. Our fans are great as they buy merch which keeps us going. In terms of physical online sales, most things are streamed. You can do what you like but you’re not going to make enough money to make a new album so you need to get on the road. To be honest, that’s where the fun is really.

Thank you Aled for joining us today and best of luck with the album.

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