Download Festival, record labels and new songs: A candid chat with Melbourne punks Clowns

Download Festival, record labels and new songs: A candid chat with Melbourne punks Clowns

Words By Tammy Walters

We caught up with the beloved band before they perform at Melbourne Music Week – Extended.

There’s no funny business when it comes to Melbourne DIY punks Clowns.

From their clashing beginning in 2013 they’ve had their eyes set on the prize, churning out a jukebox worth of political-meets-party anthems, taking their chaotic traveling circus across international lands and appearing on multiple major festival lineups far and wide. But that all came to a screeching halt last March.

A week prior to one of music’s biggest carnivals – the one that would welcome and carry the Black Parade – COVID-19 came into effect. No performers, no animalistic energy, no Deftones, Jimmy Eat World, and no Clowns – Download was as good as done for 2020.

“I feel like during the course of the year I experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion – the start of the year was just so weird and uncertain, very trying and we had Download cancelled less than a week out from it,” explains frontman Stevie Williams.

“Especially the stage the band is in right now, that was part of my income and I was like, ‘How am I going to pay rent? What the hell is going on around the world?’. Slowly but surely, everything started to go a little more haywire and we just realised that were going to have to ride this one out a little bit.”

A tour of the US was cancelled before it was even announced while a calendar of European shows was sent down the toilet, but Clowns were able to pull themselves out of the wreckage, finding their own silver lining to the chaos.

“I guess the little orchard that grew out of the swamp of 2020 was that we already had our own record label set up that we had already released our own record on the previous year [Nature/Nurture] and we were lucky enough to strike a deal with our pals Private Function to put out their record on our label Damaged Records,” Williams says.

That Private Function record, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which supplied mega tracks ‘Sleep Paralysis’, ‘Albury Wodonga’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Make Out With You’, hit the top ten during its release week and set the tone for the remainder of Clowns’ year.

“Since then, things are looking up! We’ve been developing our own store and growing a little side hustle of ours that we didn’t expect at the start of 2020. We have a show coming up, we have the record label and we have an office space. Honestly, I know 2020 wasn’t for everyone, and it was a really trying time for us at the start, but I look back on the year with a lot of optimism that a lot of good came out of that as well.”

They’re already off to a flying start for 2021, having just announced their first hometown gig in nearly two years. Partnering with Melbourne Music Week – Extended, Clowns will be taking on 170 Russell for an evening of pure punk propositions.

Going down on Friday February 19, the gig will have support from satire soldiers and downright loose units These New South Wales, as well as Rot TV – the supergroup consisting of members from Miss Destiny, Rabid Dogs, Deaf Wish, Annihilation Time and more. But this won’t be your standard all in, crowd surfing, sweaty and shirtless smackdown – COVID-safe rules will apply.

“The Melbourne show has allowed for standing and dancing but obviously in a COVID-safe manner,” Williams explains. “I think everyone will have their safety caps on so it will be a great show.”


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The show’s layout is not the only aspect that will be new to attendees. Whilst in lockdown Clowns have been working on new material – thanks to a kneejerk investment in home recording interfaces – which will appear on the MMW setlist.

“We’ve recorded a couple of singles so we’ll be playing some new material for the show … which will be cool,” confirms Williams.

“Now that we can jam, we’re jumping back in the studio to record them. How we release them I don’t really know, maybe a tour? Who knows? Maybe we’ll play Mars at some stage. Seems like a bit more of a COVID-safe proposition. I’ll get Elon Musk to give us a one-way trip there to be the first band to play on Mars.”

Now that the Starman himself, David Bowie, can no longer accept the mission, Clowns are the obvious default.

Clowns’ show at Melbourne Music Week – Extended has sold out. Check out the rest of the MMW program here and keep up to date with any new Clowns gig announcements here.