Words on World Music

Interview with Trevor Rogers of The Clumsy Lovers

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Digging into our archives bought us this great interview with Trevor Rogers of one of our favourite bands, The Clumsy Lovers.  Cal Koat conducted the interview for Celt in a Twist radio program.

 As long as we are lucky we attribute it to our smartness; our bad luck we give the gods credit for.
Josh Billings (1818 – 1885) US writer

Celt In A Twist: The Clumsy Lovers have made a lot of smooth moves, touring extensively through the heartland of the United States where they’ve found fertile ground for their rootsy blend of pop, rock and Celtic stomp, building their fan base to a size that can’t help but attract label interest and hooking up with Vancouver-based Nettwerk Records, a label that has built a reputation supporting independently-minded artists. Smart kids, indeed. Their latest and most cohesive release to date is called Smart Kid and Trevor Rogers joins us by phone from the road he knows too well. How you doin’, Trevor?

Trevor Rogers: I’m doin’ great, Cal. I’m talking to you from the fertile State of Tennessee right now.

CIAT: Tennessee! Blue grass country … no wait, that’s Kentucky.

TR: We played in Kentucky last night! It’s been fun. It’s nice down here.

CIAT: Congratulations on the new disc, Trevor. What is the title track Smart Kid all about?

TR: Smart Kid is a song our bass player, Chris (Jowett) wrote. It’s about all the chances we take as human beings … some of us end up a little worse for wear.  Some people end up in serious trouble. Ya, the choices we make … sometimes we pay for them and sometimes we get off ‘Scott free’ by the grace of God or what have you.

CIAT: This album followed quickly After The Flood. Has the band developed any new writing tricks to speed the process?

TR: Well the beauty is playing all the time.  Really, we did almost 300 shows again last year. Somebody will have an idea at sound check and we’ll try it that night. If it sounds OK, we’ll stick with it. By the time a year or so is done, we’ll have 15 or 20 songs that we want to demo. So, I don’t know about any new writing tricks. Basically, it’s the same upbeat music with fiddles and banjos. We’ve gotten some reviews that were like, “Dude! It’s all over the map but … we like it!” It’s kinda nice to be in a band where you can play some reggae grooves and ska, bluegrass and Celtic and some old tyme music. We stuck a kind of Clumsy Lovers funky tune on there too. So, it’s nice to have that freedom for sure.

CIAT: For an acoustic roots band, the production on Smart Kid is very lush. You mentioned to me before that the challenge is to recreate the songs in a live context. How’s that going for you?

TR: It’s going alright. You know, we actually had about 10 days at home when we practiced almost every day in Vancouver before the big summer tour. And we were like, “Alright, we’re not going to have 3 part harmony on this part, Let’s see how it sounds with 2 part harmony. Oh, and you better cover that organ part on the banjo …” I guess we’re just covering for some of the melodies we laid down in the studio and simplifying them for the live show.

CIAT: You’re not bringing along samples or anything with you?

TR: No, no (laughs) we could have used the Harlem Gospel Choir on a couple of the tunes but they were all tied up for the summer.

CIAT: Got cha. You’ve got your Celt In A Twist and we’ve got Trevor Rogers on the line, on the road. Keep up with the band’s travels through their travel diary at www.clumsylovers.com. Is that a hard thing to keep up with, Trevor?

TR: Well, again, one of the guys in the band, Chris has his trusty laptop. Actually, it wasn’t all that trusty when he was a PC man. He went through about three of them.  But now he’s got his Mac and he sits there in the hotel and sums up the day at the end of the night. People seem to enjoy that. We check out the hits on the website and a lot of people go directly to the road diary now.

CIAT: Well, I think it’s an enjoyable read and it really gives you a sense of what life on the road is like.

TR: Ya, he’ll say stuff  like, “ Do you know far it is from Vancouver to Sheridan, Wyoming? We do … 999 miles.”

CIAT:  I know you’re not the kind of band to rest on your laurels or rest much at all for that matter … but do you have a golden moment from the new disc you’re most proud of?

TR:  We’ve been starting the shows a lot with a song called Coming Home … a real fast, upbeat tune which actually has a tune written by another guy named Neil Dickey called The Clumsy Lover. So, we finally incorporated that song, The Clumsy Lover into one of our own tunes. It’s actually a bagpipe tune but we play it on the banjo and the fiddle. That’s the highlight of the live show right now. There’s also a song on Smart Kid called Not Long For This World. We pull that one out now and again. It’s kind of a more reflective ballad which is nice to play every once and a while.

CIAT: Really good food for thought, that song … I like it a lot. One of my favorite moments comes in the form of Okay Alright when Andrea takes a turn at the mic. She really has a delightful and unaffected delivery. Can you set up that song for us?

TR: Well ya, she steps forward to the mic probably 2 or 3 times a night. That song is about not wanting to fit into a certain role somebody might have you pegged for. In this case, it’s more of a female empowerment song.

CIAT: But, it’s written by Chris, right?

TR: Yep. He wrote that one.

CIAT: So is he getting in touch with his feminine side?

TR: Well, I don’t know. I‘ll have to have a talk with him about that. He’s my room mate most of the time.

CIAT: Hey Trevor, drive safe and give my best to the heartland of the United States. Congratulations to you and the rest of the band and we’ll look forward to you coming home and giving us a bit of a concert as well.

TR: Thanks Cal. We really appreciate all the support you’ve been giving the band and some of the local Vancouver bands you’ve been playing on Celt In A Twist.

 CIAT: Our pleasure.

 Trevor Rogers was interviewed by Celt In A Twist producer, Cal Koat for broadcast on AM 1470, CJVB, Sundays at 4pm with host, Patricia Fraser. 

One Response to “Interview with Trevor Rogers of The Clumsy Lovers”

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