I recently had the privilege of interviewing pop-country group The McClymonts, comprised of siblings Brooke, Sam and Mollie McClymont, via a telephone interview, as they unveil their newest release Mayhem to Madness today. We discussed the album, their hardest and easiest songs to write, and what life has been like for them during COVID-19. Check out the interview transcript below with Mollie McClymont (on the right in the above photoshoot), and be sure to check out the new album on Apple Music or Spotify.
BOLD = Jonathan
Italics = Mollie
Hey, how are you?
Good, how are you?
Yeah, going alright, just at home at the moment.
Yes, in isolation still?
Still, still. Actually today is my day off from work, so I’ve just been…
Awww…. Thank you for interviewing me then
That’s alright, I’m just at home doing the normal housework and stuff like that.
So am I.
So anyway, first and foremost, congratulations on your release of the album.
Thank you, thank you so much.
And obviously it’s been a whirlwind year of 2020 so far, with the bushfires, the floods, and now with COVID-19 and everything else. How has it meant to you for this release to be unveiled now, at this moment?
It’s feels really good, I mean, we were tossing up, do we hold it back, with everything that’s going on because we can’t hit the road as we’d planned. But in our discussions, we were like, we’ve been waiting three years to release this album. It’s songs that are relevant to us right now. I think people need new music to listen to. We need new music, and then, people can learn the songs before we actually kick the road in September anyway, so we decided to go ahead, and it feels really, really good that they’re finally out into the world.
Yeah, yeah, fingers crossed that it actually does happen in September.
Oh, I should think positive. Restrictions are lifting, as we speak. We’re seeing as a country; we’re doing pretty good. I’m feeling really positive about it.
So hopefully things are going to go as planned, and we’ll see you guys on the road in September moving forward.
So, you are an Australian country music trio, and you’ve been in the business for quite some time, more than 10 years. And you’ve had success both in Australia and somewhat success abroad, not as much as Australia. How do you reckon you can describe your music style for someone who may not have heard your music before, how would you say it is, if you were to compare it to other artists in the industry?
It’s definitely modern country. Obviously on every single album, we’ve got songs that are way more country, pedal steels, mandolins, fiddles. As we’ve progressed, it’s gotten more modern, current. I hate kinda boxing us into the ‘country’ label, because it’s just grown so much- it becoming more accessible to people and people are LOVING country music now, yay, thank goodness! Finally understanding our love for so long. But yeah, it’s like more pop-country.
That’s what I’ve been getting when I’ve been listening to a lot of your earlier stuff. So with this new album, Mayhem to Madness, the album title is very fitting for what is currently happening in basically, the whole world right now.
Can you believe it? We actually picked out our title to the album, last November. So before any of this happened, and the mayhem to madness, was our lives. We’ve all got two kids each, crazy at home, it’s chaotic, trying to work from home. We’ve got our own business. Touring, motherhood, and then madness, it’s just out on the road. It’s just a lot of fun, a lot of late nights, early mornings. So that’s the madness, so, we were like, ‘it’s the perfect title for our lives’, and then when 2020 hit with the bushfires, COVID, we were like ‘wow, this is everyone’. This is the year, 2020, that should be mayhem to madness.
Yeah, and when I was listening to some of the songs on this album, a lot of them, I actually can relate to.
The single, ‘I Got This’. That’s actually for me, very relatable.
Because of COVID?
Just generally, actually. And also understanding that in some ways you have to embrace the madness and the mayhem in your life currently, to be real and authentic, and when you’re doing that, people can see that, and they can have the courage to share honestly as well.
I love that. I love that we wrote it about motherhood, and it can be interpreted, this song, in so many different things. Whether it’s someone battling addiction, just life in general for some people, telling themselves that no matter what they’re going through, they’ve got this. It’s so many different meanings. Whether isolation with kids and everything going on. So I’m glad you can relate to it as well. It’s really lovely.
Yeah, that’s the journey that I’ve actually been going through over these last few months when hearing the song as well, so thank you for that.
Good, no worries
So in terms of, like, the writing of the album and everything, were the any songs that were easier to write than others and in terms of how maybe some of your songs were based on personal experiences and everything else?
Yeah, I think that’s what happens with every songwriter. Sometimes it takes you an hour to write a song, other days, it takes the whole day, and you cannot get the hook right or you cannot figure out where it’s meant to be going. The easiest for us to write was ‘Freefall’, which is going to be the next single off the album. I don’t know why, but on this day, we just said ‘we wanna write a love song for our partners that is just simple, but musically, makes you feel amazing. And it literally took 1 hour to 2 hours. It just came out so, so quick. And the next day we wrote ‘Looking for Perfect’, and because the lyrics and what it was saying, went so much deeper; it took us all day for us to write that. We were constantly coming back to it going, ‘we need to fix that line, cause it’s not saying we want it to say’. Yeah, they all take different times. And some songs just take a bit more effort than others.
Yeah, yeah. I can imagine sometimes the songwriting process can differ, relating to whether you want to convey a certain theme in a certain song, or whether you want the album as a whole, to reflect a certain thing that you have going on in your life currently, so yeah, I can understand that.
So, you are all siblings in the band. Are there any challenges of working together as a band, knowing that you are siblings, and that sometimes, in terms of working, there’s sisters, but there’s also colleagues, you know what I mean?
Yeah, I think earlier on in our career when we were extremely really young, we were off on the road, like, 5-6 days a week, a lot of time spent together. You know, you get sick of anyone if you’re hanging out with them, that long. So we did have our moments. I mean, a few of us have tried to quit a few times over the years, and then the next day you go ‘ok, I’m back in the band, I’m all good now, I was having a moment’. Because we’re sisters and we feel that emotion and we talk to it about each other, but as we’ve gotten older, kids have come into the picture. Things mean different things to you now, like, you’ve just got to brush off the silly things, and we realise the bigger picture. Family is important, we are so important to each other, and we live a really bloody-good life together. We get to tour this amazing country together as sisters, hanging out together. And we’ve just realised over the years, that the little stuff doesn’t mean much anymore, we look at the bigger picture, and we just enjoy it together now.
Yeah, that’s very good. And I know you guys, earlier in your career, you wanted to have a stint in America. And you kinda tried that, and then upon reflection and hindsight you realise that maybe, your music in America didn’t really catch on as maybe you wanted it too…
No, I don’t think it was that, actually. We were doing amazing, we were touring with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, and we were on this huge tour. And Brooke got pregnant, and it was a time in our lives that we just needed to evaluate what we wanted in our lives, and touring 7 days a week, and blasting our butts and really missing Australia. Like we really, really missed our family over here and friends. We just needed to…it’s been a really good career here, and one that we knew could keep us going. And what did we want? Did we want to spend our time over there touring 7 days a week, not spending that quality time with family? Brooke was about to have a baby, what was going to happen then? So we just make that decision, that we had a really bloody-good 2 years over there that was so much fun. And we had the best experiences, played at the Grand Old Opry, like 3 times. But it was just our time to come home, and we were ok with leaving it at that.
Yeah, I can imagine you had good experiences over there, but you ultimately wanted to come home.
Yeah, it was just time to come home
Another kind-of personal question, well, not really personal- but in terms of your concerts, has there ever been like a song that you’ve sung in your concerts throughout the years that you didn’t necessarily think would have the impact it currently does, and on the flipside, has there been a song that you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t?
Oh…ok, there’s so many albums…
And, another question to that is what have you been shown and what have you learnt through both or either circumstance? I know that’s a bit of a three-barrelled question…
Ok, I’ll give you the first couple of questions, first. Probably a song that we loved but didn’t realise it would have such an impact was ‘Forever Begins Tonight’. We just wrote it for Sam and Ben’s wedding. We thought it was a beautiful song, that was a single, but we just didn’t realise how much that song would connect with people. That’s like one of our most requested songs, ‘Forever Begins Tonight’, everyone has it at their weddings. We always make sure we sit that at shows, we didn’t realise how much of an impact it was going to have on people, so that was one of them. Songs that we thought should’ve been bigger and they weren’t…just trying to think of all of our singles. I can’t think, I’m not sure. I think all of our songs have done pretty good. I don’t think we’ve ever had an expectation of any of our songs for doing well, and when they do go well, we’re just like ‘yeaah’, it’s a bonus, they love it as much as we do.
So you and your sisters have been in the music industry for quite a long time, let’s say, more than 10 years. What do you think, personally and as a band, what keeps you grounded and places things in perspective? Like is there like a song, or a motivational quote, or an inspirational talk, or just people around you that basically remind you of why you do what you do?
I think we keep ourselves grounded, we’re very real and we say…we can see through the bulls**t with each other. And so we tell it how it is with each other, and we’re not afraid to bring someone down and go ‘actually this is reality’. I think that comes from our parents though, mum would tell us if we’ve done a really s**t performance, or whether we’ve done a good job or not. That’s just how we lived our lives, we were very real with each other. Family would always give their honest opinions. We didn’t have a fancy upbringing, our mum was a hairdresser, our dad was a butcher, we lived very normal lives in a country town with all country kids. I think that’s just carried on with us to our adulthood, and that’s what’s kept us grounded, our upbringing.
Yeah, of course. That’s a good thing to have a family upbringing. So other than this album release, Mayhem to Madness, and other than the rest of your discography, has there been an album by any other artist in any other year, that has impacted your life personally in this year of 2020, not including your own music?
Oh, gosh, I don’t know, impacted. Like I listen to a broad range of music, like I love Kacey Musgraves. She is so modern than country, that I loved her so much. She influenced this album with us, and we all love her. But I don’t know whether this year or not, honestly it’s been pretty crazy with parenthood and motherhood and just so much going on with working and trying to get the album out there, I don’t think there’s an artist that has had too much impact this year.
Fair enough. Obviously in terms of this COVID thing, we actually don’t really know when this whole thing’s gonna end. And obviously during this time, you’ve basically had a whole lot of downtime. But as a band and individually as your being mothers, aside from the general mother stuff at home, has there been anything else that you’ve been doing in your downtime this year?
This year’s been all about getting the album ready. It takes a lot of effort to bring out an album, that’s why it feels so good for it to be out today. Whether it’s like, checking the markers a million times for things that need to be fixed or changed. Checking merits on a bloody lyric booklet, just the plans of what we’re going to do. Planning a tour, changing a whole tour in this COVID, has taken a lot of work, it’s a culmination. We’re not just sitting here going ‘oh, we don’t have any work, there’s no work to be done’. There’s so much work to be done. So it’s been busy in between kids and reorganising a whole tour, we have not stopped.
Yeah, I can imagine the amount of work that has gone into this album. For me has I’ve listened, there’s got a lot of good stuff on it. Obviously the first single, ‘I Got This’. And then for me, songs that have actually impacted me just recently have been ‘Lighthouse Home’ and ‘Good Advice’. Just generally, as I was listening to it once through, those were two of the songs that actually stuck out for me.
Yeah, Lighthouse Home, Sam actually wrote about being away from her partner, they were doing a lot of travelling between America and Australia, so Sam wrote that about her and Ben. And then ‘Good Advice’ is just all about, people give you good advice all day long, it’s whether you choose to take it on board or not.
Yeah, that’s something we all kinda need to hear, especially during this time of uncertainty, I guess.
So is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview that you think I may have not covered?
No, Jon, you covered it all, thank you so much.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule today, I can imagine it’s basically interviews all day?
Yes, it is. Thank you very much Jon.
Be sure to listen to The McClymonts’ new album Mayhem to Madness that is now available everywhere! Also, check out their youtube page here, my blog about the band here, and be on the lookout for a review of the album coming soon here on 365 Days of Inspiring Media. Below are also full streams of some of their past albums! Enjoy listening!