Interview with Sean from The Clockworks on inspiration & the Irish music scene

Interview with Sean from The Clockworks on inspiration & the Irish music scene

by Anita Foxall.

Rising stars The Clockworks come to Heartbreakers, Southampton, on September 30 as part of their first headline UK tour. Anita Foxall caught up with guitar player Sean.


From Galway, to London, and visiting Southampton next week for their second show of their first tour as headliners, The Clockworks will be bringing us their powerfully compelling music and lyrics. They a band that will take you completely with their amazing punk-rock sound, filled with energy and passion. 


How are you feeling about your upcoming tour?

Sean: Very excited.  It feels like it’s been coming for a long time. I don’t know how long it’s been since we announced it, but I suppose through the whole summer festival season, we’re just kind of really looking forward to some headline shows and it’s actually our first UK tour ever.


And as headliners, right?

Sean: As headliners, yes. We’ve obviously played all around the place, kind of here and there, but never one tour altogether with us headlining, and we are looking forward to meeting all the people who bought tickets to see us play for the first time, and who  we attracted with our music over the last couple of years. 


The Clockworks started to take off not too long before the first lockdown. What was that like?

Sean: Yeah, I think it was 2020, around March times, right on time for the first lockdown. Annie Mac played our song The Future is not What it Was for the first time on Radio 1, so that was obviously a really big moment for us, and it was just as we went into lockdown that that happened. So bad timing, but it was the same for everybody. So yeah, it was it was at that stage that we started attracting more attention.


You moved to London in 2019, is that correct ?

Sean: That’s correct, January 2019. We moved to London and within two weeks we attracted the attention of Alan McGee from Creation Records. So he really validated our decision to make that big move from Galway to London. And that’s a big thing for people where we are from, to move to the big city, you know, we’re from a small town of a few thousand people.


Did you adjust well to London?

Sean: I think so, yeah. Two of the lads, Tom (Freeman) on base and James (McGregor)  the singer, they were both born in London, but they moved to Ireland at various stages in their lives. I think James moved when he was 12, and I’m not sure when Tom moved.  But I love it, I’ve always loved it. We used to come over for gigs every few months, just kind of preparing ourselves for an eventual move. I think we all adjusted pretty quickly.


So, it was a career move?

Sean: Yes, a hundred percent. That’s really the only reason, I think. 


You’ve got quite a big tour ahead of you.

Sean: We’re doing the UK tour in September/October, and then we’re going to Ireland for an Irish tour all around the country in November. After that I think we’ve got two gigs in Europe, Belgium and Amsterdam. And a German tour in December.


What would you say your main influences are?

Screengrab of Zoom chat between Sean of The Clockworks and Anita Foxall of In Common.
Sean chats with Anita Foxall over Zoom.

Sean: They definitely vary from member to member, but even my own influences are quite broad. I would say as a guitar player, I’m quite influenced by Interpol and  Pixies, that kind of angular melodic guitar playing. I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar‘s new album a lot recently, I think he’s one of the best artists out there. I really got into The Beatles, which for a lot of people is the most obvious answer, but I had never given them a proper hear, you know. I’d never really kind of dived any deeper than the singles that everybody knows, so when that documentary came out, I really got into them a lot more. So, I’m listening to them now.


Where would you say your inspiration comes from?

Sean: Well again, that’s probably different for everyone, because James, the singer, writes the songs in terms of lyrics and vocal melody, but each of us write our own parts. I obviously write my guitar, Damien (Greany) writes his drums, Tom writes his base.

But for me it can come from anywhere. I’m really inspired by London, talking about non-musical influences. I’m inspired by the night time in London. The lights, I don’t know there’s something romantic about big cities at night time.

I like to cycle my bike through the city at night and have my earphones in and listen to music I love and kind of look at the city like it’s a movie almost, and that can spark ideas in my head. So I’ll cycle home quickly, plug in the guitar and maybe record some new music.


How is your creative dynamics as a band?

Sean: James is always writing. He goes to a café at 7.30/8 o’clock every morning before the day starts. The same seat in the same café and just writes and writes and writes. He’s really been coming up with a lot of songs over the last couple of months, one every two or three weeks, I’d say.

What I do is I record music kind of all day, every day, sometimes on the piano, sometimes guitar, sometimes just drumbeats, all sorts of music. Then I upload it to Google Drive and share with James, then probably one in four or five will spark an interest in his brain and he goes “oh, I’ve got something for that”. He takes it to the café and writes something on top of it.  But the dynamics goes in a few different ways. 


It’s wonderful you have really taken it into your lives as a job. Inspiration takes a lot of work.

Sean: Yes, and you need to keep watering the inspiration, you know, you can’t stop because the best stuff comes as you treat a like a job, maybe not for some people, but for me anyway. You know, start at 9, finish at 5, and clock off and try and keep it. I find it that the more I keep it regimented, the more productive it ends up being.


What are your favourite new bands at the moment?

Sean: There’s a guy in London called Saint Jude, he is well worth checking out. His music is kind of electric, electronic, trancey hip hop. I don’t even know how to describe it, because I’m not really in that world but it’s really cinematic music, kind of gritty. He is great.

There is a duo called Sad Night Dynamite, again they’re kind of an electronic band.

I really like a band from Philadelphia called The Districts. They’re really good, and they’ve been going on for a good few years now. I think they have four or five albums or something. They are probably my favourite guitar band.


Do you consider yourselves part of the “new Irish sound”?

Sean: I guess we are. We moved before the whole world put its magnifying glass on Ireland, but we had been going on as a group in Galway for five or six years before moving to London, so definitely. We know the majority of the bands and it’s such a great thing for Ireland, because there’s always been great music. I’s just like Seattle in the nineties or New York in the seventies. The spotlight is in Ireland now. It’s Ireland’s time for the magnifying glass to be on the great music.


How would you describe The Clockworks to someone who doesn’t know you?

Sean: I’d say we are thoughtful, as a lot of talk goes into every aspect of the band’s lyrics and music. Also passionate, when we perform live, we are very passionate, we are playing for our lives almost, every single time. So yeah, probably thoughtful, and passionate.


The Clockworks’ new single Advertise Me came out earlier this week. Check out the video below: 



Sean confirmed they will be recording in studio soon, so expect a full length The Clockworks album to come out next year to follow this year’s EP released in March, The Clockworks. And make sure you catch them at Heartbreakers on the 30th of September, it will be an amazing show.


  • For tickets for The Clockworks at Heartbreakers, Southampton, click here.
  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: