Brooke McClymont is one third of the award-winning country trio, The McClymonts along with her two sisters Sam and Mollie. Currently on their Forever Begins Tonight tour and promoting their fourth studio album Here’s To You & I, I spoke to Brooke about song writing, keeping it in the family and being on the road.
How is the Forever Begins Tonight tour going?
Oh my gosh, it’s going amazing. We’ve been touring since July last year but at the beginning of this year we decided to name it the Forever Begins Tonight tour clearly this is because the song just came out – it’s our new single – and it just felt like we do do it forever and we haven’t stopped. We wrap up the tour around mid-May but with a few festivals still up our sleeve throughout the end of the year.
The tour name Forever Begins Tonight is named after the song written for your sister Sam’s wedding. Why’d you decide to name the tour after that song?
You always like to give the tour a name so in years to come as you look back and go ‘oh that was the Here’s To You and I tour or that was the Forever Begins Tonight tour’. It’s just something that sticks in your head to remember. Because we tour constantly and it kind of all just rolls into one. We thought it was so fitting because we’ve got the new single and it was for Sam’s wedding, so it’s kind of got a bit of meaning behind it.
Did you expect it to be such a fan favourite?
To be honest, I didn’t actually. I think it’s one of those things where it’s hard to tell what people like these days and what’s going to stick and what doesn’t. This song has stuck to people so [the response has] been amazing. We’ve had a lot of fans say that they’ve danced to it at their wedding so we just love that. We love hearing stories like that!
Your sister Mollie is recently engaged – is the pressure on to write an even more amazing song for her wedding?
Yeah, I know. She wants us to write a song for her. I’m like ‘Oh goodness! Just pick one off the CD’. Make it easy for us.
Well once she’s married, none of you will technically be McClymonts anymore.
I know. That’s right. We’re basically just flying the McClymont flag. It’s pretty funny.
You’re in a band with your two sisters. Is it hard to constantly be around your family?
Oh you know, we’re so used to it. Now. I don’t even think we give it a second thought. We kind of love it. It’s just easy. We really all do get along. We just get the job done. We definitely have times. But I think because we’ve worked together for like nine years now, we’ve kind of worked it out don’t go near her if she’s a bit upset or you know, one of us is having a bad day, you kind of go ‘stay clear.’
Does your two-year old daughter Tiggy go on tour with you?
Sometimes she does. She’s a bit young still at the moment so thank God for my mother-in-law and my mother – they usually help out when they can because my husband tours as well. We basically are away weekends but thank God for family we say. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them. But [Sam and Mollie] are like, ‘dammit, we don’t get to see her!’ ‘Well you two could be babysitters but we work together so it’s kind of a bit hard because you can’t look after her when we’re working.’
What would you say to Tiggy if she came to you one day and said she wanted to be a singer?
I’d say go for it! It’s so much fun. It wouldn’t half surprise me if she does. She’s got the musical gene in her for sure. She loves music [and] loves playing the harmonica.
You’ve written songs for a lot of others artists. Do you approach writing a song for someone else differently to writing a song for you to use?
It all depends what the brief is and what’s going on. I usually just write a song and if it doesn’t make the McClymonts album, hopefully the publisher goes ‘remember that song you wrote I might pitch it to blah blah blah’. That’s great if they like it. If you’re writing for someone specifically then you go ‘okay what’s the brief?, what do you want?’ You talk to the artist themselves [to] know want to write about and they’re style so it varies.
If a song you’ve written for someone else does well, is there ever a moment where you wish you would have kept the song to use for yourself?
No, not at all. I’ve written a couple of songs [where] I basically was just being in the right place at the right time the songs were heard. Olivia Newton-John sang a song of mine. It was on the duets album, I think it’s called Two with Human Nature, they sang one of my songs. Hilary Duff also picked up one of my songs back when she was in the Disney era when she was Lizzie McGuire. She ended up singing one of my songs. I think it’s just one of those things where I’m not getting a lot but it’s nice to have those few people that have recorded my songs sometimes.
Still, Olivia and Hilary are some pretty big names though.
I know. It’s pretty exciting but I haven’t had many since but between doing the McClymonts stuff I’m just so into that at the moment. Hopefully one day when that slows down I can venture into songwriting a lot more because my husband loves it – we song-write all the time! It’s a good little side project we’ve got going on that we can do.
Last year you released your forth studio album, Here’s To You & I – which is your only album that you’ve recorded in Australia. Why did you decide to record in Australia this time around?
It was basically our producer Lindsay is an Aussie, and I just had our daughter so for me it was more like the traveling over to Nashville was kind of a bit daunting because she was so young and it just made sense to record here in Australia with him. We recorded between his studio and our studio where we live, which was just so easy. It was really relaxing and if we got the chance to do it again that way, I’d take it up in a heartbeat. It was just so relaxed and easy. It’s one of my favourite albums that we’ve done.
It’s a bit of a personal album too.
Yeah, I know because we had a bit of time to write this record, we didn’t have to jump in and quickly come up with material. We went out and listened to lot and experienced a bit of life off the road because we’ve been touring for the past nine years straight basically. For us it was a nice chance to write what we wanted to write about.
Is it hard to sing such personal songs?
No, not really. I mean there’s three of us in the band [so] we share everything together [and] you don’t feel the pressure of being on your own, having to deal with an emotion song or whatever. You look over and like there’s two girls.
With four albums out, how do you decide what songs to play when on tour?
It’s actually getting quite hard because usually you only play for an hour and a half and, with four hours up our sleeve, that’s nearly four hours worth of songs. Put it this way, it’s good to have more choices and more variety of what we want to sing than not having enough songs. We know the ones that the fans like [so] we kind of stick to that and play the songs that they want to hear really.
Do you change your set if its a small gig or a large gig?
Yes. Absolutely. If we’re doing a big festival gig it’s a lot of rock songs but If we’re doing a small intimate gig, a whole load of rock songs, probably wouldn’t be great if they’re right there sitting in front of you. You gauge your audience, what the setting is.
Do you prefer a large festival gig or a small intimate gig?
I like them both to be honest because they’re all so different. When you’re on that big stage, you get that vibe of just all those people in the crowd and they’re just in party mode. But when you’ve got the small intimate gigs, it’s so lovely too, because they’re just sitting down listening to you and they’re right there and they’re listening. They’re both so different on the scale of things.
With the Australian country music scene is so small, festivals must be like catching up with friends?
Yeah, it is basically. It’s basically the only time we get to catch up with everybody at the festival because, even though you’re driving in and out of there the next day, we still know how to have a good time. You can let you hair down and have a good night. Those early mornings, which usually we have, it’s like ‘dammit, I’ve gotta behave myself’.
You recently performed at the Snowy Mountains Country Music Festival for example. Did you actually get to see any of Thredbo while you were there?
No, not really. We were up at 6 that morning to get going. It was like a 7.5 hour drive home. The perks of the music life, on the road, not so glamorous.
You’ve toured with some big names. Who have you most enjoyed touring with?
Gosh. We went on tour with Jason Aldean a couple of years ago in America which was amazing. We supported him on a six week tour that was pretty incredible to play in all the arenas and stuff around America. That was an eye opener; definitely saw how they tour in America and it’s full on. That’s probably one of my favourites really.
What’s the difference between touring in America and touring here?
Oh heaps. There’s just more people in America basically, more towns [and] more festivals. It’s basically just the population there. It’s huge. Everywhere you go there’s just people everywhere. and lots of people love country music, that’s the one thing I’ve found. Country music in America is well and truly flying.
Well you guys are doing well, you’ve won nine Golden Guitars and two ARIA Awards. Where do you keep all your trophies?
We keep ours in the shed. We hang out in the shed, that’s where we work and write. They’ve got their own little shelf. They’re looked after – they get dusted every now and again.
Earlier this year you also won at the CMC awards where you also did a bit of hosting. How was that?
Yeah I know. I always get so nervous doing stuff like that because it’s so different from singing. Public speaking to singing – oh my goodness! You’re scared you’re going to say the wrong thing and, most of the time, I do. I think I should just stick to the singing.
You looked lovely as well.
Thank you. You can’t really go wrong in black, can ya?
For more information go to: http://www.themcclymonts.net.au/tours/
Originally posted at the AU review.