The unveiling of this new track is accompanied by the announcement of Clerk’s debut solo album: ‘The Space Between My Ears’, which is confirmed for release on 26th March 2021 (via Wardlaw Music).
Grappling with his inner-demons, “The Air In Here” finds Clerk delivering an intoxicating alt.rock composition that recalls the slow-burning epics of Arab Strap or Idlewild. Finding the Fife-based artist driven to breaking-point, it’s a song that tackles issues of mental health and addiction, rehabilitation and redemption. Dealing deft blows with its stark lyricism, lines like: “My head is aching, from all the s**t i’ve been taking… I can’t breathe the air in here” will hook and haunt in equal measure.
Based on (as Mike puts it) a “complete f***ing meltdown” that the singer experienced, Clerk says of the track:
“Man… this one is really personal. It’s pretty much the memory of my own experience of when I was in constant complete internal meltdown. Panic attacks, sweats, waking up not knowing where I was and if I’d ever even manage to get back to sleep that night. And let me tell you, the sh*t I put my body through to end up with my mind in that place was criminal. Ultimately it helped me find a much better version of myself in the end, although I imagine there’s much more practical ways to go about that – but I wasn’t really one for getting stuck into yoga back then to be honest. I got stuck into everything else, but unfortunately no – not the yoga I’m afraid (laughs).”
Formerly the frontman of The Lost Generation, Clerk already has a good pedigree of experience in the music industry under his belt. While with the band he regularly played exclusive club nights for the NME in the UK and the US, Alan McGee’s Death Disco club nights, and had a close call with guitar duties for Primal Scream.
Now returning to music after an extended absence, Mike Clerk’s solo story all started with a GoFundMe page. Using the page to gauge interest for some songs he had written and produced at the start of the lockdown, Clerk was astonished by the incredible reaction, with his targets smashed by over 400% in just a matter of days.
Triggering a chain reaction of successes from there, debut track “Thoughts of Fools” proved a hit with a dormant fanbase he no longer knew existed and saw Clerk instantly score an exclusive publishing deal with Wardlaw Music (putting him on the same roster as world class musicians who have worked with the likes of Massive Attack, Pulp, The Zutons, Simple Minds, U2, and Stormzy).
Stately second single “Keep Movin‘” only added to the momentum, with the track catching the ear of bonafide legends including Iron Maiden’s Tony Moore, The Undertones’ Mickey Bradley and Trainspotting’s Robert Carlyle, with the latter even adding Keep Movin’ to his “2020 sh*t year, great music” playlist. Its epic martial-arts inspired visuals drew further acclaim and has helped earn him over 50,000 video views to date. While Clerk has yet to perform a single live show, an invigorating session of the track for The Scotsman also confirmed the hype.
Almost a year on since the beginning of lockdown, Clerk will release his highly anticipated debut album: ‘The Space Between My Ears’ in Spring 2021. Looking to “mend the after effects of historical over indulgence”, it’s an alt.rock record that delves deep into the various mind-sets of the human psyche. Completed over the course of 6 months, Clerk used the enforced isolation to tap back into his musical abilities, and with empowering results. Assembling lyrics based on his personal experiences and performing all the instrumentation himself, the singer began to summon from within the solo album he had always dreamed possible.
Laced with addictive guitar riffs and multiple-layered instruments, ‘The Space Between My Ears’ weaves earth-trembling sonics with unflinchingly honest lyrics as it takes the listener on a journey through various mindsets of human emotion via Clerk’s own conflicted headspace. Homing-in on aspects of empathy, determination, and distress respectively with his first three singles, the album also sees Clerk cast careful considerations on confidence (in the driving “Pour it Down”), defiance (on the rumbling “Words of Gods”) and raw-emotion (on the unfiltered “You When You”).
While written and recorded almost-entirely by Clerk at his own home studio, additional drum sessions took place at the local YMCA in Kirkcaldy – one of the few spaces in town he could find that wouldn’t risk him getting “kicked out by the neighbours”.
Working with sound-engineer Alan Ramsey during these sessions, Clerk then left the mixing of the whole record in his capable hands. “This record would never have been done if it weren’t for Alan” says Clerk. “This approach also gave my brain the break it needed from being submerged in all the parts so I could revisit the record as a listener”. Giving the record its overall heft of sound, the album was then mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Jack White, The Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher…).
Packing a gritty alternative rock punch with lyrics unafraid to get personal, Clerk’s new music is the output of a reformed character hitting new creative heights. Coupling a fierce DIY ethic to a huge sound, ‘The Space Between My Ears’ confirms Clerk’s return to music with a comeback record impossible to ignore.
Self released on 26th March 2021, ‘The Space Between My Ears’ will be available as a limited edition 12″ Vinyl (available exclusively through bandcamp and signed on request). Advance digital pre-orders will also include a free bonus track, “Everybody Knows it” (which features classical film score composer Jeff Bernstein), with the whole album accessible a day ahead of the official release date.
Pre-order the Vinyl // Digital copy of ‘The Space Between My Ears’ here from 19th February: https://mikeclerkmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-space-between-my-ears