Clowning around with Jake Laderman

words: Brittany Long

Recently Girl’s Brittany Long sat down to chat with drummer Jake Laderman of Aussie punk rock outfit Clowns.

Last year saw the band release their fourth studio album Nature/Nurture, which debuted at #6 on The Australian ARIA charts and join esteemed heavyweight music label Fat Wreck Chords, and now 2020 is set to be even bigger with the band having been announced on Australia’s Download Festival lineup and famous American festival Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas.

Hi Jake, So I understand you’re just off the back of a massive European tour what have you been up to since getting back? 
A whole lot of relaxing, a whole lot of not spending time in a van, and just kind of like enjoying summer really. I miss my girlfriend and I miss my cat and its nice just having those luxuries back again. 

I thought the whole rockstar thing was life in a van yeah?
Well I think if you’re a true rockstar you probably don’t spend much time in vans you probably spend more time in you know private jets and stuff haha. But we certainly spent a huge part of last year in vans across the world.

Well fair enough that would’ve been an experience. So Congratulations on your addition to the download festival lineup again. What can festival goers expect from your set? 
Thankyou. We have a few surprises for people who Maybe are used to our normal show like we’ve definitely got a few songs from all four of our records, we have a few little special treats for anyone who is up for a surprise.

Anything you can hint at on the down low?
Not really haha, I think people should just come along and check it out. It’ll be funny. 

Sounds like I might have to. So what does being included again on the lineup mean to you guys as a band? 
It’s great you know, being in Australia there is not as many like heavy music festivals as there is like in a lot of overseas spots especially in Europe, even America too, so for Australia to have something that is like Download and to get the calibre of acts that they get it’s a pretty special thing for Australia and to be included on such a huge lineup like that is, you know really flattering and awesome, and it’s just really exciting for us. We’re psyched to be part of such a thing.

Yeah amazing! So who are your personal must sees on the lineup if you get the chance?
I’m super keen for, I mean this is like very like local and stuff but I’ve always been a huge Bodyjar fan so I’m pretty psyched about Bodyjar. Then also I’m pretty keen on The Hu for sure.

It’s a jam packed lineup right! So last year you celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the band, how do you feel things have changed since the early days?
Pretty drastically really I guess, like when we started out I don’t think any of us had anticipated that we would still be doing this ten years on and be playing even harder than we were back then. We started, just Stevie and I started like fresh out of highschool and now yeah I don’t think we ever thought we’d go overseas for one or even maybe go interstate. I remember the first time going interstate it was a very big deal for us. So I guess things have changed like pretty crazy, like we’re always planning ahead now as opposed to taking any show we get offered on a Wednesday night in Brunswick or whatever. So it’s awesome to see the progression and stuff. 

Yeah amazing! So you’ve seen a lot of changes among the Clowns lineup over the years. How have you dealt with that as a band? 
It’s actually been surprising, like you’d think that a lineup change is like maybe a bit of a burden and I think that there have been times where it was. But the lineup that we have now is like the most solid we’ve had in terms of just like the way we all get along, everyone is like very understanding of each other. I mean like when you have to spend every minute of every day in someone else’s pocket you really do get to know who they are and we can all sort of deal with each other pretty good. I feel like the lineup changes have definitely worked out for the best, I feel like if we had stuck with the original lineup there would be many problems at this point. 

Yeah that’s fair enough and of course like you said spending every minute of every day with them in a crammed tour bus you’d get to know them pretty well.
Absolutely I think we know each other more than most do.

So, a massive congratulations on being the only other Australian band to have joined Fat Wreck Chords. What does it mean to you as a band?It’s awesome you know, like growing up you know a lot of us listened to No FX and Frenzal Rhomb and it’s a special thing to be a part of. It’s something that again like I don’t think anyone would have thought would happen but again sometimes you just meet people like with touring, we were fortunate enough to cross paths with Fat Wreck and meet a lot of bands that are on Fat Freck and they’re all really awesome people, really lovely people, a really hard working label. It’s kind of like a bit of a teenage dream come true to be a part of Fat Wreck Chords to be honest, it’s awesome. 

Yeah that’s fantastic and what a huge opportunity! So I see that you guys have been added to the Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas, what does that mean to you? 
Well I’ve never been to Vegas before so this is sort of like two part excitement because like I’m one, really excited to go to Vegas and see all the glitzy bullshit that they have and then the other side of it I’m like really excited about the lineup for that festival. That’s one of those festivals that every single year I’ve just like fantasised about being part of. The lineups are always unbelievable. So we’re really excited to go back to the States and play Punk Rock Bowling. 

Which bands are you looking forward to catching the most if you get the chance?
I’m really excited to see Municipal Waste and I’m keen to see Madness if we get a chance too, keen to see Circle Jerks if we get a chance too, Bad Cop Bad Cop, PEARS, a whole bunch of bands actually, it’s a really great lineup. Although I have a feeling we won’t actually be able to stay for that long.

Well fingers crossed for you. What are some of the biggest life lessons you’ve learnt since forming Clowns?
Always, don’t get too carried away with your own ideas be willing to listen to other people’s ideas, you gotta be a team player I think if you play in a band that is like really co-collaborative. Basically everybody has a lot of big ideas and it’s important to listen to each other so it’s an open playing field and everyone’s ideas are valued. So I think that’s a very important thing about playing in any band. 

Yeah of course! So what are some of your personal big career highlights?
I think maybe, we played this festival in Belgium it’s a really great punk rock festival called Groezrock, that was a pretty special moment. We opened for Foo Fighters like a year or two ago, that was pretty special as well. 

Okay,yeah I think that one definitely goes down in the history books hey.  
Haha yep. God I don’t know, maybe like just doing like some of our biggest sort of headline shows, they were all really special moments like in Australia. Yeah I guess there’s a few it’s good.  

Awesome! So everyone has a big f*ck yeah moment in life tell me about yours?
A f*ck yeah moment. I remember having a huge f*ck yeah moment when we got added as a support band for The Descendents because I’m like a stupid fan, a big nerd about that band so let’s roll with that. That was the biggest f*ck yeah moment I can think of at this very moment. Getting to play with The Descendents that was very cool. 

Watch the official video for Clown’s I Wanna Feel Again here.

Yeah that definitely counts, that’s awesome! So where did the band name Clowns originate from? Obviously you don’t all dress up in scary clown costumes as the name would suggest. 
Well we don’t do that onstage but just in our personal time haha. No but like I said before Stevie and I were so young when we started the band I think that the name, I think he actually got the idea of the name from Ronald McDonald or something stupid like that. We just kind of thought Clowns was just sort of like a funny name for a bit of like a drongo, a bit of an idiot. Then maybe like a year down the track we were like oh hang on that name’s actually not so good, but then by that point we’d done too much to just turn it around. So here we are ten years later as grown adults called Clowns and we’re stuck with it. 

Haha I love that. I reckon it’s representative of your inner child too hey.
Yeah I mean I’ve just sort of come to realise that band names, I don’t think they’re important at all anymore. I just feel like as long as you have a band name, you stick with it and you just write the music that you’re destined to write then people see through it usually.

Yeah absolutely, so do you remember your debut show with clowns, the first show you ever played? 
I do, it was terrible haha. It was at a bar called the Grace Darling on Smith Street in Melbourne and there was my dad, my stepmother, my sister, and maybe like the members of the other bands, and I think that was it. Yeah it was hilarious, it was so silly. But you know everyone’s gotta start somewhere I guess. 

Yeah exactly right. So why did you get into music? Did you grow up with a love of music as a kid or where did the passion stem from? 
Yeah I mean I think I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. I think my dad was like a big listener, like a big Bowie fan and he used to play that War of the worlds soundtrack a lot and he like loved that so I got pretty obsessed with that kind of stuff, and then going into school like discovering rock music and stuff. I went to a school that was like pretty music orientated they had a really good music program and by the time I was in year twelve I just really didn’t give a shit about anything other than that. So I think like I was probably always destined to play music like this regardless of whether or not it would get any kind of success at all. So I guess yeah I think I landed where I was supposed to be.

Yeah it definitely sounds like it. Has the music you grew up listening to influenced what you play now as a band?
Yeah, like to a degree absolutely. I feel like you, when you’re a teenager you get really obsessed with like all these huge rock bands like KISS, AC/DC, Metallica and stuff like that, and then a little down the track you get into like kind of underground, more obscure things like kind of explore what is out there and stuff. But like there’s so many times that I just come back to, like when we’re writing a song, I literally just take it back to what is as simple as an AC/DC riff that is just so simple but so powerful at the same time. So I think we all still stick to our roots a lot in a lot of ways. 

Yeah absolutely. So what’s been your biggest hurdle in life and how have you overcome it?
I don’t know. Maybe convincing my parents that a rock ’n’ roll band was like a good career choice I guess. That’s one. 

That seems like a common answer among musicians these days doesn’t it. 
Yeah. But with that being said they’ve been super supportive. I truly don’t know what the biggest hurdle is. Probably doing interviews, I’m not very good at them 

Well you’re nailing this one. 
Ah, perfect.

So what’s the inspiration behind your latest release album Nature/ Nurture ? 
Nature/ Nurture is a record that’s kind of a concept record that plays on the theme of nature vs nurture and what makes somebody behave or act the way that they do. Is it the way that they are raised or is it a way that they are like born to be. I guess both sides of the record are like opposing themes so yeah we have like side Nature and side Nurture and like on a musical level they definitely sound different and have different themes and stuff so this was like a pretty creative record and something I guess that’s a bit different to every other record we’ve done in that regard.

Get to know Jake with Fan favourites in a minute: 
Food: Laksa
Ice-cream: Pistachio
CD vs Vinyl: Vinyl
Artist: The Descendents
Album: Milo Goes To College
Dream place to tour: South Africa
A Tattoo you’d like to get: a bird
Disney Film: The Lion King

Thankyou so much for chatting with me today Jake. I hope to catch your set at Download festival! Have a wonderful day.
Thankyou so much for your time. You too Thankyou.

You can catch Clowns performing at the 2020 Australian Download Festival dates:
Friday March 20, Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne, Victoria
Saturday March 21, Parramatta Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Purchase tickets here