This post begins with my usual disclaimer: I am heavily pro-McClymonts. The trio of sisters originally from Grafton in New South Wales have been lighting up country music for the past twelve years, and I have been a fan for every one of those years. So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to my recent interview with lead singer and guitarist Brooke McClymont. After touring recently with her husband, Adam Eckersley, for the release of their joint album, Brooke is now on the road with sisters Sam and Mollie – and some plus ones in the form of their babies. While touring needs different logistics now than it did 12 years ago, it’s clear that Brooke is just as excited about it as ever. We spoke while the band was waiting to appear on a morning TV show.
It’s wonderful to see you all out on tour again but of course touring.
We’re so excited.
Touring now requires more logistical planning than it used to because you all have children. How long did it take to plan?
Oh, a good eight months. We like to be organised, because with the kids and we’ve only got one mum that we’ve got to share between us. And our partners all work. So it’s just being organised but it’s something that we love doing and we’re pretty good at it, so we’ve gotten used to it now anyway. We’re just really pumped to get back out on the road.
I saw that you and [husband] Adam [Eckersley] took Tiggy on tour with you, so she’s obviously used to the touring lifestyle.
Oh, she’s amazing. We thought, you know, pulling her out of school, we’re going to be those parents … but the teacher said, ‘We encourage you, it’s so good for the kids to get out there and learn on the road’, and she really did, she had such a great time and she got to see what we do for a living. Which is really good.
Looking at your schedule for your McClymonts tour, you’re obviously going to quite a few places, but are there any places you’re playing that you haven’t been to for a while, so you’re returning to them after absence?
We are doing 22 shows on this one, and there are quite a few that we haven’t done for a while. The Melbourne Palms Crown Casino, which is amazing, that’s such a massive room, the girls and I haven’t done that for a couple of years. We’ve never done Aussie World, which is on the Sunshine Coast. We haven’t done Mackay for a while, and it will be good to get back. And we’re also going to Lightning Ridge, never played at Lightning Ridge ever. We said, you know what, [there are] a lot of places we really haven’t been, and especially being on the road with my hubby and we thought, wow, out west a lot of people can’t get away, and it’s a long way from everywhere. and we thought, Let’s go to them. So we’re really, really looking forward to getting into all these new places that we haven’t been before.
The three of you started playing together as children, and on the song ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’ there’s reference made to you all playing guitars. But, of course, only you play guitar in the band now, so who decided who got what instrument?
Well, actually, me, I told everyone because I was the boss back when we were little, so I told Sam and Mollie, I said ‘Sam, you need to play bass, and Mollie, you’re playing mandolin.’ I was a bit of a dictator back then. But they kind of thanked me for it as they got older, because look, they play those instruments now in our band, so it’s paid off. [But] I’m not the dictator anymore. None of us are. We know what needs get done, so it’s a really good balance and I think the older we get – we’ve been touring for 12 years now – we feel like we’re such old veterans, even though that’s not a long time, but, you know, we’ve worked with each other all our life, especially being sisters and working together, we’ve definitely found a work–life balance with each other.
I can proudly say that I went to your very first band show at Blazes in Tamworth.
Yes. I was at the festival and you’d released your EP and I loved it.
Oh god love you, that’s great.
I remember saying to everyone, ‘I’m so excited I’m going to The McClymonts.’
That’s so good. You know what, that EP did really well for us and it kind of set us up in the Australian country music industry, and everyone just seemed to have loved it. We’ve been so lucky and grateful that we’ve been able to continue to do what we’re doing. When we had kids we continued to keep going and make records, and we do pinch ourselves and go, jeez, we’ve got a good job, got a good life.
And you’ve created it, I think. It’s consistency and hard work.
I hate saying it’s luck because it’s not. You create your own luck. But it’s definitely been something that the three of us have really worked out, we’ve always been focused on it, we’ve taken pride and cared for our career, and we still are like that today.
I concur, as someone who observes your career. Do you need much rehearsal time these days?
Yes. We like to give ourselves a few days, two full days, and usually by the end of it our heads are really sore. But that’s how we like to operate – we like to know that we’re going out putting on a good show for the fans, and I think that’s why people keep coming back because we do take care in the show, especially our songs and making sure that everything’s right because we are bit of perfectionists, the three of us. I think I love about us as well. So yes, definitely every tour we also rehearse with the band. It’s full-on, intense but it’s still fun and that’s the main thing.
And for me as a fan a crucial question is always what’s in the set list. Now I know ‘Shotgun’ I think has fairly permanent place on it.
No it hasn’t, we’re not doing it this one either.
I know, isn’t that crazy. That’s not making a comeback at all because we feel like we’re going to put ‘Endless’ [there] because of the new album – we kind of replaced ‘Shotgun’ with ‘Endless’. The set for this tour is a pretty up, rocking style, so I’ve got to get fit again because I’ve literally thought, How the hell am I going to last nearly two hours on stage doing what we’re doing? Literally I’m going to have to be like an athlete.
And also you all tend to play in heels.
See, that’s another thing that I’m really not good at anymore. I’m getting old now, I hear my knees cracking, but, you know, what I’ll do what I have to do.
I don’t think anyone would mind if you wore flats.
Oh good, I pretty much do comfort now, I’m more sensible as I’m getting older.
Highly reasonable. Now, are your parents proud of you all or do they take it for granted that they have such accomplished children?
I have no idea. I’m pretty sure they’re proud, but – and you know these days, they want to see the grandkids more than anything and I don’t think they ever talk about us any more, they’re just so excited because they’ve got really young little babies in the family, like Mollie had Elky and Sam’s little man, Wilder, he’s only one, and my daughter’s five, so we’re at that age, at that time in our lives the kids are so awesome to be around. There’s a lot of young kids and it’s just really cool.
And, as mentioned, Tiggy’s been on the road with you, but do you think there’s any chance of a McClymonts children opening act? Band?
I have no doubt that there will be, probably at some stage. When you have kids and they turn five it’s amazing. They can do things for you. And my daughter’s such a goody two-shoes too, which is fantastic. I don’t know where she gets that from, Adam or me, but she’s amazing and she’s such a joy to be around and I love it. So I’m sure there will be plenty more times when they’ll be hitting the road with us, for sure.
Every time I go to a McClymonts show I see a lot of big smiles around the room, so I tend to think of your job as giving joy to people, but I’m wondering what you think your job is?
It is [that]. I really feel that. I really think that’s such a great way of seeing what we do. You know, whatever people are going through, the fact that they want to come and spend their couple of hours, three hours with us, on the weekend after they’ve had a whatever kind of week they’ve had, either at work or home life, they can escape for three hours and we give joy. Our job is, hopefully, to give people a really fun night out. And that’s the great thing. That’s what I love about it. It’s nice to know that people take the time out to come and see you and give their time. It’s amazing.
I think you honour the audience. Every time I’ve seen you play there is a lot of joy in the room and I’ve taken people who don’t actually know your music and they all walk out saying it was fantastic.
Oh good. See, in life that’s all you have to do. If only one person walks away feeling that, you’ve done your job. I mean, actually, if only one person walks away you’ didn’t really do your job, did you? You’ve just played on a whole room! But you know what I mean.
But that’s the aim. We’ve never taken it for granted.
I’ll ask you one more question so you can go on TV in good time. Are you working on new material?
Not at this stage. The album came out at the beginning of last year but it’s kind of new for us girls, because the girls all went and had babies. We have to pencil in it in when we need to write together, which won’t be too far off but there will definitely be new music in the works sometime soon. But right now Sam and Mollie have to be mamas and we’re just giving them time to enjoy their babies because they’re not babies for long. And we’re going to be around forever, so we’re making sure we get our priorities right, especially now that the kids are here.
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