The Scotsman Sessions #112: Charlie Clark
Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, from his home on the Isle of Lewis, Astrid’s Charlie Clark performs an acoustic version of Don’t Have a Cow, Man!, the first single from his forthcoming solo album, Late Night Drinking, which will be released next year
As this year has brought home, the future can take you to unexpected places. Exactly 20 years ago, for example, Charlie Clark had moved to Glasgow from the Isle of Lewis, where he and childhood friend Willie Campbell were between their first two albums at the heart of widely-tipped indie group Astrid. A year later, they formed part of the core grouping of Glasgow ensemble the Reindeer Section, alongside the then-unknown Snow Patrol.
The two decades since have been eventful. Astrid ground to a halt in 2004, and after a handful of solo projects, they reformed for some gigs in 2016 and last year’s fourth album Fall, Stand, Dance. For most of the 2010s, however, Clark was the manager of a bar in Los Angeles – until his father’s serious illness drew him back home in early 2019. It was in the Hebrides that the songs which comprise his forthcoming debut solo album, Late Night Drinking, were written and recorded.
“At home with my dad amid a big change of culture, I sat down with a guitar and wrote about the last ten years,” says Clark, who explains that during this period he struggled with addictions from which he’s now in recovery. “Hopefully the album is a really positive message. That stuff can be really dark for a lot of people, but I didn’t want to be a depressed kind of guy. The album was my therapy, really – it’s about being self-aware, about not letting your guard down.”
His Scotsman Session is Don’t Have a Cow, Man!, the first single from the album, which will be released on Alan McGee’s new Creation23 label. Clark was offered a deal the morning after he and Campbell hosted McGee at Stornoway arts centre An Lanntair, purely on the strength of his conversational connection with the sometime Creation boss.
“The song is about the merry-go-round of addiction – it could be alcohol, it could be drugs, anything that takes me out of myself,” he explains. “Being from the west coast of Scotland, we’re not really equipped to put our hands up in the air and admit defeat, you know? LA opened my eyes to a whole new life that’s very much implemented in my day-to-day routine now – I’m the sort of person that wants things fixed in an instant, but that’s just not how it works if something goes wrong.”
Sadly, his father passed away this year, but life continues to develop. “I just found out my girlfriend’s pregnant with twins,” Clark says excitedly, contemplating a future back where it all began. “Even when I was in Glasgow, Stornoway’s always been home.”
Charlie Clark’s single Don’t Have a Cow, Man! will be released in January 2021, with the album Late Night Drinking to follow in March, both on Alan McGee’s Creation23 label. See www.facebook.com/charlieclarkmusic and www.creation23.co.uk for more details.
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