Death By Stereo: An Interview With Max Clutterbuck From lostboy
It is true. Sheffield Indie lot lostboy takes their name from possibly the finest, darn 80s movie in existence: The Lostboys. Worshipped for its leather-clad, bouffant haired, dangly earringed vampires, the songs added a whole other dimension and projected just the right amount of cheesy and cool. "I grew up with that film as it’s always been one of me mums favourites! Got a great soundtrack that film; I’m a massive INXS fan, so can’t go wrong with it really. Have a lot of love for late 80s and 90s film," founder Max Clutterbuck passionately declares.
I can't help but notice that the band's press shots showcase a trendy, canny chap and not a complete line-up of fellas? Feeling a tad flummoxed, I ask Max to clarify the dynamics of the set-up of his merry crew? "The chap in question is me. The songs you hear are written by me for the lads. My ideas and music are core to our sound; it made sense to make my mug core to the way we appeared online as well."
"A lot of the songs express the way I see things or how I interpret issues and thoughts my mates have, so it seemed right to focus our imagery around me." But he does thank his lucky stars that his three best mates have his back: Bezza on lead guitar, bass from Henry and Eth with Drums, all appreciated for the craic induced belly laughs.
It clicked into place for Max about ten years- in secondary school- that music was the only way to go. Deemed as a distraction by his teachers and parents in those days, he knew it had a higher purpose. "Never fitted in that well at school, and I used to slink away to music rooms and play the battered guitars there during lunch breaks etc.; think it was my way of going someplace else during the day. Henry and Eth were at the same school as me, and we bonded over the music." Song would be at the crux of whatever road he travelled, he knew.
We have been reading a lot lately about how genre is becoming less relevant as hybrids and meshing of composing styles grant freedom and unpinning. I wonder how appropriate sticky labelling seems to Clutterbuck and, importantly, what his sound means to him? "Genre isn’t something I necessarily think about when writing; think it’s a label the industry and the people listening associate with a certain sound, so I just leave that to them to dish out."
"The music style is a big accumulation of the music that the four of us enjoy listening to, guitar music from the 90s through to modern indie is my forte; that’s the main ingredient I’d say. The other lads add in their parts, and they’ll be pulling from other places, so it ends up sounding unique to us," he weighs up.
Single Self(fish) sails along breezily, carried by the wind; all the synthesque sounds atypically created on guitars: "We wanted to see how much space we could create from what we had available; so gassed with how it came together." Patience required, the song addresses a personal experience from Henry that they deemed essential to tell others. "He went through a rough time with his mental health, felt like he couldn’t talk about it, ended up dropping out of uni, being on the ropes with his girlfriend and facing some difficult states of mind."
Being so close and not apprehending the anguish that his pal was going through made Max recognise that stigma forced Henry to shy away from addressing his problems head-on. Max recalls, "I wanted to create something positive out of his negative experience, in the hope that every time we play it together, it might normalise the taboo around it all that little bit more. I’d like to think anyone listening to it might relate to it in the same way and feel the same benefit that we did."
"I wanted to write it in a way that felt like a brewing mental panic hence it having this slow build to what eventually breaks into chaos. The title is all about how someone might say,' I feel like me today,' but then actually be thinking, 'well, sort of,' and the impact that can have when left unspoken."
Discovering that the rest of the EP, Bad News out June 3rd, flows in the same vein, I question if the collection of their accounts exudes lostboy's musical mission or is there a curveball in the midst? "The EP as a whole touches on a lot of issues I was having concerning Lockdown: from the political and broadcasting handling of situations to personal struggles and relationships. It wouldn’t have felt right to do it any other way. It was important to me that it made sense at that time. I’d much rather write about real experiences; that way, I can fall in love with the music."
So, to end on a symbol of positivity, our chirpy hopeful casts his mind back, calling out an optimistic outcome from the pandemic and the very purpose of his art. "I felt very positive that, like many of us, I was able to achieve great things for myself during what was a really tough time. Like I’m thinking, “If I can write and record an EP during a global pandemic, then what can I do when this is all over?!” It’s an exciting time."
“The tracks on the EP come from a place of underlying concern for where things are heading for our generation and younger. lostboy has always been about giving us that voice, bring us together and remind anyone who feels lost in their way that they aren’t on their own in that feeling.”
Article by Beverley Knight