The title of The McClymonts’ sixth studio album, Mayhem To Madness, is something of a modified version of the adage ‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’. Eldest sister and lead vocalist Brooke explains that in the world of her extended family, the pan and the fire are both as rewarding as they are chaotic.
“It’s about juggling motherhood [mayhem] and career [madness],” says the vivacious singer, “but also, what a fitting title with what we’re all going through right now! It’s just mental, 100 percent. We just hope it all ends soon; let’s be honest, it’s probably not going to for a while… but fingers crossed.”
The recording of Mayhem to Madness – which bursts with the juice-through-your-fingers fruits of this trio’s enduring country-pop acumen – was its own turbulent experience, not least because Brooke – now mum to her third child, bouncing babe Elroy – was heavily pregnant while laying down vocals. “I couldn’t actually do things that I normally would,” she says. “His head was always up under my rib cage, and he was sitting on my diaphragm as well – when I was singing, I was just really struggling to breathe! When I went for those high notes I was like, ‘Oh God, please don’t let my water break!’ Thank God for Andy Mak, our producer.”
Young gun Mak (who has previously worked with Vera Blue, Winterbourne, and Yorke amongst others) encouraged the trio – who recorded their parts separately, a necessity considering the sisters live “so far away from each other” and between them have seven children – to try vocal experiments they hadn’t considered before. “I’ve never questioned what the girls sing,” Brooke says of her sisters Sam and Mollie, who create the gorgeous blood harmonies around Brooke’s lead melodies. “I just think they’re brilliant at it. But the girls were explaining: ‘When we went for the harmonies we naturally go to, Andy said ‘Maybe try this.’’ The girls had to sing it over and over again, but that was the exciting thing, because once they got it, it was awesome.
“It was keeping it interesting; you’ve always got to learn and grow as musicians and artists.”
Speaking to this energetic woman who’s clearly fascinated with human behaviour, you quickly discern that the mayhem and the madness can intersect in complicated ways. There’s a beautiful sentiment about this reflected in the lyrical hook for album opener Part Time Phase: “It’s only a part-time, over-me-kinda, want-me-out-of-your-life phase.”
“You have these moments where you have a blow-out – you just really dislike someone in the moment – but it’s not like you want to leave them, or want to escape where you are,” Brooke explains. “I think everyone can relate to that lyric, because everyone has felt that at some point, whether it’s your relationship with your partner, your mum, dad, sister, brother, co-worker… I get into that part-time phase where I’m like, ‘You’re an idiot! But whatever, thank God I can get over it and we can move on with our relationship,” she chuckles.
Brooke admits that she and her husband – singer-songwriter Adam Eckersley – were “nearly destined for divorce” in the first year of their marriage, such was the insanity of The McClymonts’ touring commitments.
But now, the sisters make a concerted effort to plan thoroughly. “The three of us girls sit down and go, ‘What dates can we do this year?’ We used to miss out on so many [personal] events and now we’re just like, ‘Stuff it! If you’ve got a wedding to go to, take the weekend off, there’s plenty of weekends in the year [for gigs].’ We make sure that we really get that balance now with family and work life. I think that’s the beauty of being our own bosses, too.”
The McClymonts have rescheduled their Mayhem to Madness tour for this September; meanwhile, Brooke is acutely aware of how the pandemic is affecting her industry, but hopes that the down-time has reminded listeners of music’s perennial ability to comfort and strengthen us. “We’re hopeful everyone supports us, can get behind us – all musicians!” she clarifies, “and realises how much everyone needs music in their life.”
We certainly do, girl – see you in September.
Mayhem To Madness by The McClymonts is out Friday June 12 via Island/Universal.
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