Melbourne punks Clowns have never been ones to conform. The five-piece started life in 2010 as a more-or-less straightforward hardcore punk act, but over the course of their first three albums – 2013’s I’m Not Right, 2015’s Bad Blood and 2017’s Lucid Again – were steadily evolving and mutating their sound in whatever direction they felt like. It was always loud, but it became both more nuanced and more off-kilter. New record Nature/Nature, which is released on April 12, sees the band continuing down that snaking path – it’s 11 songs swerving right and left abruptly and unexpectedly, veering from frantic punk to slower, more nuanced and psychedelic-tinged rock. And while it might not always make sense, these songs still sound like Clowns; because when Clowns don’t sound like Clowns, they actually do – a paradox that vocalist Stevie Williams is very much aware of.
“Nature/Nurture is an amalgamation of our last three records, which we’ve made over the last 6 or so years,” he says. “Our line-up has been a little bit fluid over the years, but this record is the band really coming to fruition with this line-up and with all the different sounds that we’ve experimented with over the years – everywhere from super-adolescent punk rock to nine-minute long psych jams.”
Now completed by drummer and founding member Jake Laderman, bassist/vocalist Hanny J and guitarists Rod Goon and Will Robinson, Clowns have become something of a force to be reckoned with in recent years. When the band began, Williams says that his end goal was to one day sell out the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, a venue that was instrumental in his years growing up. That seemingly unachievable ambition from his teen years was ticked off the bucket list while touring Lucid Again, then in 2018 the band played in front of 56,000 people when they supported Foo Fighters in Melbourne and hit the stage at the world’s biggest heavy music festival, Wacken Open Air.
“It’s all a little bit mind-blowing,” laughs Williams, “because at the end of 2017 I realized ‘Holy shit, I’ve actually done everything that I wanted to do!’ And now this is my job and I can’t escape it and now we’re just seeing where this crazy train will take us next.”