When Sydney-bred indie-rock troubadour Andy Clockwise packed up stumps and moved across the world to Los Angeles, he had no idea what he was in for.
All he knew was that it was something he had to do.
“Never underestimate the folly of youth,” Andy told Newcastle Live. “It wasn’t a daunting thing at the time, I was just really up for it.
“It was a bit of a shock going from playing some really good shows in Australia, and then playing with a laptop and acoustic guitar to 10 people in LA.”
Andy made the move on the back of some considerable success in Oz, thanks to two critically acclaimed releases – the 2005 EP Song Exhibition and the weighty and eclectic double concept album Classic FM.
“Back when I arrived, I kind of saw LA as like a big, glamourous Parramatta with celebrities,” Andy laughed.
“I guess I fell in with the right people and a couple of people were willing to take a punt on me. i didn’t know anybody really. I realised I had to kind of change people one person at a time at these terrible shows I was doing.”
And it didn’t take long for the denizens of ‘fancy Parramatta’ cotton on to Andy’s eclectic sound that has drawn comparisons to everyone from Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave and LCD Soundsystem.
Residencies ar sold out shows at notable LA nightspots like Spaceland, The Troubadour and the El Ray Theatre, as well as local and national airplay on KROQ DM and KCRW only serevd to make the US buzz around Andy even noiser.
In fact, at one show at the venue Bardot, Andy’s set was enjoyed by none other than the Purple One himself – the late, great Prince.
“That was like one of your heroes getting a sword and anointing you on both shoulders – it was insane,” he said.
“I was doing a rather verbose number where I was up on a couch rocking out and everybody’s head turned to the other side of the room and I’m on this couch thinking I must be doing something terribly wrong and I look over and it’s Prince!
“In my imagination he tipped his glass to me but I don’t know if that’s true.”
Now with three albums and four EPs under his belt, Andy is in the final stretch of the creative process for his next release – the mammoth triple album War Stories.
The magnum opus has been Andy’s consuming passion for the past four years and features work from the likes of Omar Yakar (War on Drugs), Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint, Kurt Vile), JT Thomas (Captain Beefheart) and Jade MacRae.
“How it’s coming along is a very loaded question,” Andy laughed.
“It’s been a couple of years in the making, really. There have been moments where I’ve pulled my hair out and thought I was the worst ever – I suppose I’m a cliche songwriter like that. And moments, where I think, I’m the best thing since sliced bread.
“It’s been long and arduous because I’ve pretty much done it all myself but I’m pretty proud of it so far. I can’t wait to show it to people but that thought is terrifying and elating at the same time.”
For now though, Andy is just thankful to be able to gig again especially after his last tour was scuttled due to COVID.
“I will not lie we are overly excited,” he said.
“Me and the guys in the band pretty much lived for that 45 mins or an hour on stage. We were in the middle of a tour in Memphis and we were driving to all these venues all throughout the south of the midwest in the US and they’d just say: ‘not tonight guys’.
So we came back to Oz and we all thought: ‘this is fantastic! We’re going to self-quarantine in the country on. our farm and treat this as a sabbatical. We were saying things like: ‘we’ll get back out there in July – we were so ignorant and naive.
“But, I’ve got so say, I’ve really enjoyed being back, its a real blessing.”
Catch Andy Clockwise at the Cambridge Hotel on Thursday 3 June. Get your tickets here.