Clockwise On Fire, a new Philadelphia-based two-piece, released their debut single “Dig” recently and announced their self-titled debut album will be coming Oct. 22.
Clockwise On Fire molds a living and breathing hybrid of psychedelic rock, progressive, funk and alternative, shapeshifting with each key change. The musical union of longtime friends and collaborators Tim Arnold (Good Old War, Anthony Green) and Brian Lynch consistently surprises as it blurs the lines between eloquent songcraft and instrumental fluidity.
During middle school in the Philly suburbs, the duo regularly played music for hours on end, experimenting, improvising, and exploring sounds at a formative age together. They made the most of every basement jam and talent show throughout high school. Life carried the musicians down separate roads. Arnold co-founded Good Old War, toured everywhere, and released four full-length albums and four EPs in addition to playing with the likes of Anthony Green (Circa Survive) and more. Meanwhile, Lynch performed in various local bands. During 2017, the musicians reconnected and launched a Primus cover band, Los Bastardos, performing an annual gig at Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope.
In 2019, Arnold had moved back to Philadelphia, and Lynch sent him a track on a whim.
“It was really cool,” recalls Arnold. “He started sending me all of these songs, and it was fun to build the beats and put lyrics and synths on them. It naturally evolved from there. We also had some friends who really encouraged us to keep going.”
PW recently caught up with Arnold and Lynch to talk about the band and its music.
You guys made music together way back in middle school and have been part of other projects over the years. What eventually brought you together for Clockwise On Fire?
Tim: I think it was a right place/right time situation because we’ve always shared music with each other and played together in a casual sense. I guess this was the first thing that actually kind of sparked a need to really focus in and take it seriously. Also, we were both kind of in a position to take on something new, seeing as the world was crumbling around us and human existence was on the brink. Why not give it a full go?
Brian: I agree that it was kind of a byproduct of what was happening with the pandemic. I think we were both finding a lot more time at home and itching to put some of that time towards a creative release in the wake of everything going on around us. It all happened pretty organically, actually.
What’s the dynamic like with Clockwise On Fire in terms of the creative and production processes? How does making music with a childhood friend compare to some of the other projects you’ve been involved with?
Brian: We should mention that we both recorded all of our parts for this album remotely from two different cities. Tim was living in Atlanta, and I was up here in the Philly burbs. Tim has since moved back up here. As far as the dynamic for the creative process for us, it has kind of evolved as we got more serious about the project. At the beginning, Tim reached out to me to see if I had any beats or ideas that I could send his way. I started sending a few and then he would send them back with some killer drums and then eventually he wrote some lyrics and sent them back with vocals on them. A lot of ideas I had in my backlog had some potential but were pretty unfinished, but once Tim started adding to them, the motivation to put in the work to push those songs towards a final product was definitely there. Once we had a couple songs that were pretty much finished structure wise, we were both very pumped about what we had going on and started to take the project more seriously. Once that happened, it became more fluid and the ideas were flowing both ways on a regular basis.
As far as comparing to some of the other projects I’ve played in, I’ve always pretty much played with good friends, but never seriously played or collaborated with someone I go as far back with as Tim. I think we have a chemistry that can be traced back to playing music together from the time we were in middle school. We kind of got into new and different types of music together at the same time and that would always influence our playing and have us venturing into new realms as we got into different styles/genres, etc.
Tim: Production-wise we had the songs to a point where we felt as though they were ready for the world. We had discussed the details at length, sent the songs back and forth enough times with notes and were both happy with the finished product. I called up my old friend/producer/engineer Jason Cupp and he agreed to mix and master the record. He worked on most of the Good Old War records and a ton of other amazing sounding records so once he agreed to work on this, Brian and I were very stoked. Keith Goodwin and Aaron Hendrickson helped get some great drum sounds too.
You’re both from the Philadelphia area. How has the city influenced your music? What’s the local music scene like these days?
Tim: I think in a lot of ways the Philly music scene pushes you to be better because the bar is so high. So many great artists live and create and collaborate in this town that if you’re not on your A game then you won’t get invited to jam. And that’s not specifically referring to a technical acumen that is normally required. I think what is most important is that you come to the table with enthusiasm and ideas. It’s fascinating to have lived in and outside of Philadelphia and witness how everyone pushes everyone else and we all learn from each other. What a wonderful town.
I can’t really speak on the state of the music scene as an individual because my participation ebbs and flows, but I would assume that it’s as strong as it’s ever been. I choose to believe that COVID has given everyone a chance to settle down and look at what can be improved. It certainly did for us.
Brian: Having played in bands that mostly played locally at points in the past, I always felt like there was a great scene and had some very receptive audiences even when I’m sure they had not heard us before. And then I’ve definitely seen some Philly bands who we love go onto national acclaim, like Dr. Dog, War on Drugs, and the Disco Biscuits. I like to think the Philly scene helped make that happen, but maybe that’s just being provincial in the same way we feel about the Eagles, haha. Go Birds!
You recently released your debut single “Dig” and announced your self-titled debut album will be coming Oct. 22. Talk a little about how the single and album came together. What are the best ways for people to hear your music?
Tim: “Dig” was the first song that came together and made both of us sit up and take notice. For me, it was a scenario where I’m laying down the drums and while I’m doing it, I’m thinking “oh man this is great.” Then the vocals just happened and it was a moment. We both knew we had something.
Brian: I agree completely. I had sent Tim the bare bones of “Dig,” which was a cool little beat, but definitely nowhere near a song yet. I was in the middle of working from home when he sent it back. He added those catchy vocals and the drums and percussion tracks that made me just want to get out of my seat immediately. I think I listened to it 10 times back-to-back and I knew we really were onto something.
Tim: I think that informed the rest of the record and gave us the juice we needed to really go for it. It’s funny because all of the songs really sound different and there is no “Dig part 2” on the album. It was just that energy of both of us getting excited about something working that expanded out to the rest of the tracks. I think the one cohesive element besides it being the same two people on every track is that we had a blast making each and every song. I think that comes through in “Dig” and the record as a whole. It’s fun for us and hopefully for the listener as well. We made the music available on all streaming sites and are working on vinyl right now, which seems to be a bit of a wait.
What’s ahead for you? More new music? Live shows?
Tim: All of the above, all the time. We intend to keep creating and experimenting until we can’t anymore. We both have a million ideas and the plan is to just implement each one and share it with the world one by one, hopefully in an interactive way, whether that be live in front of an audience, live on social media, sort of in the matrix in a virtual setting and, of course, releasing music on streaming sites and vinyl, etc. One of the things we love about music is spontaneity and improvisation, and we want to share that with people and also make it available to interact and collaborate. We are currently setting up a space to record and perform, make videos and music and art all day every day. It’s extremely exciting.
Brian: As I said earlier, we recorded this all remotely, so we are actually working out the live performance of these songs. We have put in a lot of hours and work to create the space where we can work out the live songs and work on all sorts of new ideas, but it has been a labor of love for sure, and well worth all the time we’ve put in.
What are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?
Tim: The best way to get all your info in one spot is our website clockwiseonfire.com as it will have links to any and all streaming and events and will also have news and updates on what is going on in our world and how you can participate. There is a sign-up for our newsletter on the site as well that will always have the most relevant information coming directly to you. We generally focus on TikTok and Instagram as a social avenue, but the website is a good way to get it all in one shot.