Music interview – Klammer: ‘Guitar bands have either got to be really lucky or you’ve got to do a lot of the hard work yourself’

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The cover of Leeds post-punk group Klammer’s third album You Have Been Processed is a subtle comment on the modern world.

Guitarist, songwriter and producer Steve Whitfield explains: “It’s basically about how everything’s processed, from being in the recording studio to having passports, Instagram, food. We took passport photographs and then processed it and chopped it up. It’s the four of us in the band but it’s kind of created a fifth person. It was pretty freaky. When we did it we looked at it and went ‘Wow, that doesn’t look like any of us but it kind of looks like someone’. It’s very much a DIY thing – all the album and artwork is done ourselves. The good thing is we have total control over everything but it takes up a hell of a lot of time doing it all.”

Since founding Klammer – initially as songwriting project with singer Paul ‘Poss’ Strickland in 2014 that developed, with the addition of bassist Mike Addy and drummer Bruno Almeida, into a full band – Whitfield, who’d previously worked as a producer and engineer with the likes of The Cure, The Mission and Yann Tiersen, says he’s “learnt tons”.

“Having worked with so many bands and then to do it on this level myself and trying to arrange all this, it’s been an interesting learning curve.”

From Whitfield and Strickland penning a full album’s worth of material before they had ever played a gig together to recruiting musicians to realise the songs live, Whitfield appreciates Klammer are a band who have “done it all backwards”. That they’ve gone on to build a following and release three LPs is an achievement in an age when guitar bands struggle for airplay and media attention.

“It is hard,” Whitfield acknowledges. “There’s bands like Slaves, I’m sure they’ve been doing it for years but they seemed to pop out of nowhere and go massively overground, but I think for every band like Slaves there’s thousands of bands pushing and finding it really hard to break through.

Klammer

Klammer

“I remember an interview with Steve Lamacq where he said that back in the day in the 80s there were only a few taste makers around, like NME and Melody Maker and there were evening Radio 1 things like Steve Lamacq and John Peel and if one of those picked up on you and started shouting about you then you were basically off. You could arrange a small UK tour and people would come and see you. But I think now with internet it’s so splintered, there are hundreds if not thousands of small blogs and web zines. There are some bigger things like Louder Than War and Vive Le Rock, but no matter how big they are they haven’t got the kind of gravitas that Melody Maker and certainly the NME had.

“It is hard. You’re having to contact hundreds of small independent radio stations web zines rather than if you get in one of the big ones then you’re off.

“I think what a lot of bands don’t start addressing is you’ve either got to be really lucky or you’ve got to push and you’ve got to do a lot of the hard work yourself. There are so few guitar bands getting signed any more in the old way of things, by a big label.”

Klammer launch their new album with a gig at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on Saturday August 18 where they will joined by “a great band from Leeds” called Nervous Twitch and Spess. Says Whitfield: “They’re very different from us sound-wise but they have similar influences and backgrounds. I think it’s a good line-up. Hopefully people will come down.”

I think what a lot of bands don’t start addressing is you’ve either got to be really lucky or you’ve got to push and you’ve got to do a lot of the hard work yourself.

Steve Whitfield

You Have Been Processed is out now. www.klammer.co.uk