It’s the origins of a debut record that often make them so compelling. Long before an artist or band even sets foot in a studio, the songs that will shape the album have been gestating within the musician(s), evolving slowly without the pressures of a deadline, and cavalierly crafted free from the burden of expectations.
For Steven Clifford, one of the co-founding members of The Hello Morning, the beginnings of his band’s recently released self-titled debut date back before the Melbourne six-piece even existed.
“I’ve always been obsessed with music. My dad was a muso and I’ve just always been around it. It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do”, Clifford reveals.
“I started the band a few years ago with Matt Smith and myself as a kind of little side project…then we slowly one by one collected people along the road; it’s kind of like that old Muppets movie.”
Driven by a childhood passion, Clifford can now revel in the aftermath of a lifelong dream come true.
“It feels really good [now that the debut record has been released], it feels like a real weight’s kind of been lifted off”, Clifford admits, “Joe (Cope) and myself…produced the record and it took, you know, it took a long time. It was a pretty heavy thing to take on. So it just feels really great that it’s finally out there.”
No matter how carefully you envision a longterm goal or attempt to map out the necessary steps in order to reach it, there’s bound to be some surprises along the way. In the case of The Hello Morning, it was the unexpected realisation of which songs worked best for the album.
“I think it was more a surprise of the way some songs went. We started with a lot of tracks, but with some songs when you’re halfway through recording them and you realize that it not going (well), I think that the hardest part is letting go of things when they’re not working”, Clifford concedes.
“I mean we had more tracks then we needed so we knew that would happen anyway. But we were still kind of quite attached to everything…but then the other side of that is you get really surprised by want sounds great… So I guess it’s give and take.”
Although the release of The Hello Morning’s first LP is a triumphant moment for Clifford, the record itself is peppered with heartbreak. Sorrowful strings and elegant piano blend in with soulful rock and bluesy gospel to create a powerful ache.
These pangs, however, do not necessarily derive from love and lost, but rather stem from the struggles of life as a musician.
“You know we have really a long crazy, crazy journey through music. What we’ve been doing…right from the beginning, all of that heartbreak kind of comes from that”, Clifford elaborates.
“Some of it people I guess misconstrue and think it’s a relationship thing. A lot of it’s about just struggling through music: trying to work out how we do this, what we’re doing, and the difficulties we encounter doing that.”
That’s not to say The Hello Morning don’t pay homage to those close to them. Latest single, Without You, along with a cover of Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You, serves as a dedication to the partners that Clifford so adamantly credits for their unwavering support.
“It (Without You) was a bit of a dedication to our partners who put up with us for a couple of years of nonsense. You know, we play a lot and when we made this album we…basically were just completely in our own heads and it was all talked and fought about for about 18 months or 2 years”, Clifford confesses.
“When we heard (Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You) we were like, ‘Man what a sweet song’. It’s about this guy just singing to his partner saying, ‘I might not be rich, I might not be good looking, but don’t leave me’.”
“We’ve got great girls that look after us and really are very, very, very patient.”
But what about personal songs of a less flattering nature? How does a musician explain those tunes to their significant other?
“Sometimes our partners are like, ‘What’s that song about? What does that word mean?’,” Clifford laughs.
“I guess when you write music you beg, steal and borrow from wherever you can, and you write what is kind of half true. Maybe that’s a songwriter’s job; you pinch…from people and ideas. So that’s what you tell everyone – anyone who ever thinks you write a song about them you’re like, ‘No, it’s about someone else’.”
The Hello Morning self-titled debut out now
Watch out for The Hello Morning supporting Busby Marou with Leader Cheetah (duo) at the following venues:
Fri 22 June, OXFORD ART FACTORY, Sydney NSW
Sat 23 June, ZIERHOLZ AT UC, Canberra ACT
Sun 24 June, THE NEW ALBURY HOTEL, Albury NSW
Wed 27 June, BENDED ELBOW, Geelong VIC
Thu 28 June, THE CORNER, Melbourne VIC
Fri 29 June, FOWLERS LIVE, Adelaide SA (All Ages)
Fri 6 July, PRINCE OF WALES, Bunbury WA
Sat 7 July, ROSEMOUNT HOTEL, Perth WA
Sun 8 July, NEWPORT HOTEL, Fremantle WA
Thu 12 July, WOOMBYE PUB, Sunny Coast QLD
Fri 13 July, THE SOUNDLOUNGE, Gold Coast QLD
Sat 14 July, THE TIVOLI, Brisbane QLD
Sun 15 July, GREAT NORTHERN, Byron Bay QLD