Today (14 August), Galway quartet - THE CLOCKWORKS - release: ‘Can I Speak to A Manager?’. The single is the latest to be released on Alan McGee’s Creation 23 label. Surfing on a wave of essential guitar bands coming out of Ireland right now - the band deliver an incisive and incensed cut of agitated alt-rock on this latest outing.
Written in 2018 while the band were still living in their hometown of Galway, The Clockworks’ James McGregor found himself taking refuge from the drudgery of his 9-5 in a number of café’s and pubs during his lunch break. Infuriated by the plastic world around him and nauseous with the monotony of a rat-run routine, his paranoid thoughts and pent-up rage spilled into a song that dares to point out the failings of an ailing society. Inspired by the straight-up social commentary of lyrical icons like John Cooper Clarke, Mike Skinner, and Ray Davies of The Kinks, ‘Can I Speak To Manager?’ sees McGregor exercising his songwriting abilities with a similar no-nonsense and observational approach. Frenzied in its vivid frustration and littered with references of the everyday, ‘Can I Speak…’ is a bile spattered monologue that spirals out of control and ignited by the purchase of a faulty laptop. From the exasperating experience of telephone customer service, to the financial pressures and propaganda of living in a broken system, McGregor let’s it all out on a tirade that is at once relatable and relentless, humorous and hard-hitting.
“Musically I think it is one of the starkest and darkest tracks that we have” says McGregor. “In essence it’s a simple story of getting a dodgy laptop and having no luck on the phone to the company who sold it. Without the “fast-food distraction” factor I hoped the laptop would provide, I looked around for something else to do and found nothing. Nothing on TV, nothing in the fridge, showering for some purpose….Spending money to try and buy some purpose just makes me more cynical...I wanted to sort of drill in the phrase “Can I speak to a Manager?” to get a feeling that everywhere I look, that question is there.”
Matched with an insistent, infectious score in the vein of The Cribs, Idles or Shame, its barbed art-punk riffs and pneumatic rhythms coalesce into a single that smacks between the eyes with exhilarating intent.
Written & produced by The Clockworks, ‘Can I Speak To A Manager?’ was recorded by Paul Tipler at Unit 13 Studios, London. It was mixed by Rocky O’Reilly at Start Together Studios in Belfast, with final mastering undertaken by Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering. Pairing snarling kitchen-sink commentary with insuppressible sonic tenacity, The Clockworks are a band to savour in these dark days. Formed in Galway and drawn together by a mutual appreciation of post-punk’s darkest corners, The Clockworks are a four-piece comprising James McGregor on Vocals/Guitar, Sean Connelly on Guitar, Damian Greaney on Drums and Tom Freeman on bass. Relocating to London in 2019, the quartet signed to Alan McGee’s new record label ‘Creation23’ almost overnight. They have since impressed audiences across Europe with live performances at festivals including Eurosonic and Electric Picnic, performing to a huge crowd at Sefton Park in Liverpool in support of Kings of Leon, as well as a head-turning televised appearance on Sky 1’s Soccer AM. And the media have been quick to show their support too, with Louder Than War Magazine praising their: “devilish eccentricity and high energy. They look as sharp as they sound”, and CLASH effusing their ‘ferocious sense of purpose, with the careering post-punk guitar lines’. Previous single ‘The Future Is Not What It Was’ was praised at radio by BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac on her “New Names” showcase, BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq on his ‘Recommends' show, receive day-time radio play on RTÉ 2FM, and even impress the legendary Rodney Bingenheimer show in the States on Sirius XM. Encapsulating those same existential feelings of isolation, paranoia, and helplessness, that previous single ‘The Future Is Not What It Was’ channelled so acutely, ‘Can I Speak to A Manager’ finds them continuing that narrative and truly hitting their stride. A quartet with immense promise and plenty more to say, the time is now for The Clockworks.