I’ve seen Flipper in their heyday but I’ve never seen a band piss off a crowd like that before – Chris Moore, Negative Approach
Philadelphia’s Clockcleaner write punk rock songs for people who are tired of punk rock – All Music Guide
Named after a brand of heroin that was distributed in Philadelphia in the 80s, Clockcleaner were known for their wild music and often violent shows, some of which ended in full-scale riots. They were compared to anyone from Birthday Party to Flipper to bands like Whitehouse.
Formed in 2003, the band released their debut – Hassler EP – on Manic Ride Records in 2004. AMG pointed out that “Hassler, unfolds in lurching stops and starts” and “When it’s all over, Clockcleaner’s unpredictable arrangements and ear-shattering bursts of feedback aren’t for everyone, but they’re also anything but boring.” In Music We Trsut website proclaimed that “The Hassler comply with the band’s ideals: these tracks are loud, obnoxious, dissonant, jerky, and borderline dangerous”.
Following the release of “Missing Dick / By The Door” single, the band produced their second LP “Nevermind”. The fact that the album bears the same title as one of the best-selling albums of the 90s is not coincidental. According to Clockcleaner lead singer John Sharkey, the original “Nevermind” is an extremely dated record that didn’t stood the test of time very well (Sharkey also described it as “dogshit”), so the title of Clockcleaner’s album was meant to poke fun at the original more than anything else.
Dusted Reviews website commented that “Nevermind is not pretty, but it works like a classic noise rock record should; it rocks hard with both middle fingers extended, staring down a dead end with a leering, maniacal grin, and that’s possibly its greatest asset.” Yale Herald concluded that “When it comes to the Holy Trinity of Cobain-Novoselic-Grohl, Clockcleaner isn’t just atheistic; it’s sacrilegious. But if there is a connection between the two bands, it is that, like Nirvana with grunge, Clockcleaner never set out to re-invent noise-rock. Instead, they have embraced the tenets of the genre to construct a scuzzy, sludgy, messy masterpiece.”
After few more singles for such labels as Hit Dat and Richie Records, Clockleaner released their third full-length – 2007 “Babylon Rules” via Load Records. Same years also saw them touring with bands like Homostupids and Lamps and promoting so-called Skull Music genre.
In their review of “Babylon Rules”, Pitchfork pointed out that “The record might be a bit tame compared to the band’s reputation, but points to them for at least trying to provoke, for being a reminder of the responses this kind of music used to elicit– the near-fearful reaction of audiences who must’ve felt like they were presented with some kind of dare.”
Dusted Reviews concluded that “The best groups of Clockcleaner’s ilk – particularly Australian predecessors feedtime and King Snake Roost – balanced primal grind with form disruption/destruction, something Babylon Rules only deals out in passing.”
The band broke up in 2008, after lead singer John Sharkey moved to Melbourne, Australia. However, prior to that the band played a show as an opening act for a legendary hardcore band Negative Approach and they even performed a 15-minute sludgy cover of NA’s “Ready To Fight”, which caused riot in the audience.
Despite their demise, the band left behind quite a stash of posthoumous material, which is scheduled to appear on Siltbreeze (“GG Allin” single), Hoss Records (Clockcleaner / Queerhunter split) and Load (“Auf Wiedersehen” CD / LP).
John Sharkey |||
Richie Charles Jr.
The Hassler 12″ (Manic Ride, 2004)
Missing Dick / By The Door 7″ (Hitdat, 2005)
Frogrammer 7″ (Richie, 2007)
Babylon Rules CD / LP (Load, 2007)
Skinheaded Lady 7″ (Stained Circles, 2008)
Ready To Fight 12″ (Fan Death, 2009)
“Walking With My Lady Friend” on Hoags: A Philadelphia Compilation (Hot Dog City, 2004)