ARIA and Golden Guitar Award winners, The McClymonts, are taking it back to how it all began. Mollie and Samantha McClymont recently spoke to Rock Club 40 about their upcoming acoustic tour. “People keep asking us at our gigs if we could do songs without the band,” explains Mollie and we thought, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea for a tour’. We’ve been doing it with the band for quite some time now. We’re going to go out, just the three girls and maybe a guitarist and just ‘strip it back’ and make it really intimate, tell stories about where the songs come from and what’s been going on with us and taking it back to where we first started.”
Samantha believes that the intimate environment will allow for more interaction with the audience. “That’s the great thing about music, you want an interaction with the crowd and you can sort of play off the audience. Sometimes they want to hear the stories and sometimes they just want to hear the music and I think that’s the great thing about doing acoustic. You can really just play off the audience and get their vibe and create different moments each night. The audience gets to know you a bit more too and it’s a bit more personal. They get to see your personality a bit more and what you’re all about and the interaction between us and it’s something different for people who have been to all of the other shows. They’re getting a different show which is always good. We’re looking forward to doing something different as well. It’s going to be a great way to start the year with a different show and a different vibe. We’re really looking forward to it.”
While the girls will be featuring songs from their latest album, ‘Two Worlds Collide’, the set will also include all the favourites that the fans like, as well as a few covers. “We’ll try a mixture of everything,” she promises. The album recently picked up an ARIA for Best Country Album. “It was very unexpected and we were absolutely blown away. You work so hard on these albums and, just to be recognised with an award like that, it’s pretty special. It has a range of singles on this album. It’s got the pop songs and it’s got the ballads.”
“I think it’s the best album we’ve put out,” declares Mollie.
Prior to putting the group together, Samantha, Brooke and Mollie all had their own solo careers for a while. “We all did the solo thing before we joined the group because we wanted to make sure we didn’t rush into it,” explains Samantha. “We wanted to make sure we were 100% committed and this is what we wanted to do. So we all went off and did some solo stuff but, knowing in our hearts, that we were going to join this group and that was the main focus.” But she insists that being a solo artist, for a short period, was a valuable experience. “You have to do everything yourself. It makes you really appreciate having those extra hands and your sisters around you to tour with and have fun with and to talk to. It’s a very fun experience being in a group rather than solo.”
“We grew up doing talent quests,” Mollie informs me. “Brooke loved singing and Sam and I just did it as a hobby. We got up and sang at the (Gympie) Muster in 1997. I was 11, Brooke was 17 and Sam was 12.The MD of Universal Music was actually judging the talent quest and he saw us and he signed Brooke straight away and put Sam and I on a Development Deal and said as soon as we get out of school, he’ll sign us and that was what they did. So that changed everything.”
Indeed it did. And the McClymont sisters have had some wonderful experiences since then. As Mollie explains, “Our first tour was supporting Lee Kernaghan. That tour went for something like fourteen months. That was just a massive deal to us and something that we all remember. We got to go to Afghanistan and perform for the troops. We got to do that for twenty days so that was just incredible. Last year we got to perform at the Grand Ole Opry twice in one month and that was something that we never thought we could possibly do. You would see all the big acts performing there and you thought ‘Wow! Wouldn’t that be amazing?’ That was a big deal. So we have had quite a few memorable moments in the six years that we’ve been around.”
The trio’s writing style has gone through some changes over the last few years. According to Mollie, it has become a lot more pop/country, which the girls are happy with. That’s the music they listen to and naturally it influences their writing to a certain degree. As the girls have matured, so has their writing. “We grew up on country music,” she says. “That’s what was in our house. I play country in my car. That’s what I love. But we also listen to the radio, Top 40. We listen to everything. When we’re on road trips, we love to play our favourite songs. Brooke loves Abba and Heart so we listen to that. We listen to everything.” And their music appeals to a broad range. “That’s what we try to do,” she agrees.
The sisters have been going to the Tamworth Country Music Festival for a long time, even before they first started to perform there. “I first started going there when I was six years old,” Mollie reveals, “I haven’t missed a year and this year, I’ll be 26. It’s my second home!” She says that actually being a part of the festival as a performer was a big thrill for the sisters. “We started busking on the streets and then doing the talent quests and then some people would ask us to sing at their shows and then we got our own shows. And now we’re at TRECC and The Golden Guitars so it’s a big deal to us. We started at nothing and look where we’ve come. It’s so exciting!”
Mollie believes that the festival is a great experience for anyone who is into music. “And it doesn’t have to be country music,” she says. “There’s always somewhere for you to sing and to play in front of an audience and there’s so much for you to go watch and you can learn so much from it. It’s so much fun and the people are just so awesome there so I definitely think it’s the place to be. It’s not just for country artists. It’s for everyone. More and more artists that aren’t country are going there which is bringing in a broader audience which is really nice. Then they can actually check out what country’s all about and they realise that it’s kind of cool and they’ll probably like it.”
Of course, the tour is not the only big announcement from The McClymont family lately and Samantha is very happy to share some exciting news. “Brooke has just had her first baby!” she tells me, with great pride and enthusiasm. “She had a little girl about seven weeks ago. Both mother and baby are well and we’ve had lots of visits. We’ve been jamming away, practicing for Tamworth and the baby has been absolutely amazing! Loves the music already and just sits and listens. She’s a very good baby and she’ll be out on the road with us as well. So it’s a new phase we’re going into and quite a different touring experience. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. She’s going to be a real gypsy baby for a while and I’m sure she’ll love it.”
The sisters will be on the road until late May and then, Samantha says, they will see ‘which way to go from there’. But are there any specific plans after that? “Considering we don’t really know how to tour with a baby yet,” she laughs, “we didn’t plan too far ahead because we didn’t want to get overwhelmed or overwhelm Brooke so we thought we’d just tread water a little bit and then, as soon as we get comfortable, we’ll go from there. It’s going to be a new experience for all of us.”
One thing she is quite certain of is that the girls will be returning to the U.S. “We’ve been touring in America, back and forth, over the last two or three years and it’s been wonderful. We’ve been getting a bit of a following over there. But we need to go back a few more times. To be honest, as soon as you leave, there’s someone else to take your place. There is such a great vibe over there. The music is just incredible! But we need to spend some more time over there again.”
Samantha admits that recognition in America is always going to be a major goal for The McClymonts. “It’s kind of the home of country music and we’d like to be able to take our music over there and get a bit of a following over there. We’re getting there. It’s a lot of hard work but we are so willing to put in all of our time. It’s something we’ve been doing for a long time and we don’t want to stop just yet.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.