Clayhill are Ted Barnes (Guitar), Ali Friend (Double Bass) and Gavin Clark (Vocals) Both Ted and Ali play in Beth Orton's band, while Gavin is the former singer with Sunhouse.

Clayhill formed in late 2001 and released their debut CD, mini-album 'Cuban Green', at the beginning of this year. Their second CD, 'Small Circle', has just been released.

Some of the songs on 'Small Circle' appear on 'Northern Soul', a new short film by acclaimed film director Shane Meadows ('24-7', 'A Room for Romeo Brass', 'Once Upon a Time in the Midlands').

Pennyblackmusic, back for our second interview with Clayhill in a year, caught up with Ted, Ali and Gavin at the London ICA in the midst of a small tour to promote both 'Small Circle' and also the film.


PB : The band is still just officially the three of you, but I believe at some of your bigger gigs you have been playing with a bigger band. Is that true ?

TB : We have indeed.

PB : How have you been doing the other gigs on the tour and up North ?

TB : We have been doing them everywhere as a three piece.

PB : But tonight you have a bigger band. Yeah ?

TB : Yeah. It's not through not wanting too. We would have liked to do more with a full band, but it's not very cost effective.

It has helped us though playing live as a three piece because, in order to play the songs properly, we have had to focus on our writing partnership and been forced to go back to basics which has been really good for that.

PB : I said the last time I spoke to you that I thought Clayhill sounded cinematic, so how did the 'Northern Soul' film offer come around ? Did you approach the director, Shane Meadows, or did he approach you ? The album is themed in with the film. Was the album written with the film in mind ?

TB : It was the other way around. Shane just picked three songs from the album.

AF : We approached him. He and Gav are old friends, and, rather than come up with a promo video for a single, we thought that we would try and do something a bit different, so we approached him and asked him. Initially it was only going to be like a 10 minute film and he got totally into it and came up with an idea we all loved and he ended up putting three and a half tunes on it.

PB : Why did you choose 'Small Circle' as the album title ? I was surpised you didn't call it 'Northern Soul' because of the film's title and because you're all from the North.

TB : I'm a Southern jessie.

PB : I thought you came from up North originally.

TB : No, I'm Brighton born.

AF : I'm Southern as well. Half of my family is from between Notttingham and Sheffield, so that kind of counts. The North is in me somewhere.

TB : Did you think 'Small Circle' might be a Northern reference ?

PB : No, I just thought 'Northern Soul' might have been a better title. Why did you use the name 'Small Circle' ?

TB : It started as an idea that was Gav's and has grown into a million different ideas. The original concept was that Gav used to have a space on the stage that we used to call a small circle. If an audience is being noisy, you can cut them out and be in this really strong small circle. Then that idea progressed through the songs to take on lots of other ideas, and the concept that everyone is in a small circle and everyone is linked.

AF : It's not, but some people assumed that a small circle was a sexual thing.

TB : Really ! I didn't know that (Laughs).

AF : People can make up their own minds, but that's not why we chose it. I have conversations in pubs with mates have gone on for an hour, and everytime you talk about it with them, they tell me a small circle is very sexual.

PB : I have never heard that before.

AF : Maybe it's my mates.

PB : Were the three songs used in the film written before the film ?

TB : Shane heard the album and chose three songs.

PB : It's been eight months since we last spoke. Have you been working full-time on Clayhill since then ? I know you have done two support tours, one with Kathryn Williams, and one with the Webb Brothers, and you have also done your own tour.

GC : Yeah, and we made this record, didn't we ?

TB : No, it was actually recorded before we last spoke to you in February. It was done and dusted then. I have been working on a second solo album and Al has been working with Beth Orton, but on the whole this is what we have been doing.

AF : Clayhill is what we are largely concentrating on. The plan at the moment after these dates is to get some sort of support slot for later in the year and to do maybe two or three headliners at the end of the year.

PB : You said the last time we spoke that 'Cuban Green' was recorded at home in your own studio. Was 'Small Circle' recorded in a bigger studio ?

TB : No, we used our own studio.

PB : I asked because on the last track, 'End Refrain', you used what sounds like a gospel choir.

TB : That was actually done in our producer's front room. We don't want to use studios really. They're expensive and you're watching the clock the whole time and we much prefer working at home.

PB : Now you have done the film and seen it do you think the songs suit the film ?

GC : I think that it is great. The idea behind it was we had some money to make a promo. As a general rule, they're pretty crap unless you've got a lot of cash, so we're really grateful to Shane for coming up with the idea of making a short film.

PB : He has got a major film out at the moment as well, hasn't he ?

GC : He has. It's called 'Dead Man's Shoes'. We have got a song on that too. It's called 'Afterlight' and it's on the record.

TB : But it's the original demo version, if anyone wants to be anal about these things ?

PB : Have you started work on a third album yet ?

TB : We have started writing again.

GC : I am not sure if we know yet what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, but no doubt things will move on.

PB : How is the recording work with Beth Orton coming on ? I believe that she's not working with you (To Ted), but Al is.

TB : Yeah, that's right.

AF : I did some recording for her album. Sometimes it takes a long time because she likes to change things, but a certain amount has been done.

TB : I spoke to her this afternoon and she's happy. She's been doing some mixes.

PB : Thank you.











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