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'Bleed Your Heart Out'—Kate Clover Interview

29 September 2022

Sometimes the algorithmic gods smile down on us.

I was streaming some modern power pop when the buzzsaw bass line for Kate Clover’s “Crimewave” caught me by surprise. The track’s ferocious energy was a real mismatch for the playlist, so I stopped to see if this was some ghost from LA’s punk rock past. I was thrilled to discover that it’s the lead track on Bleed Your Heart Out (SongVest Records, 2022), a collection of songs combining punk energy, rock and roll snarl and more than a few heart-stopping hooks.

Clover is an LA native who counts local legends X, The Gun Club and The Germs among her biggest influences—which you can hear to varying degrees in her songwriting and raw sound, including echoes of Billy Zoom and Kid Congo Powers in the solid guitar playing throughout. It’s impressive that Clover and band manage to capture the spirit of those first-wave LA punks while delivering something that feels totally fresh. (Clover’s faithful cover of X’s “Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But Your Not” is a happy exception.) But there’s also an undeniable ’70s London/New York undercurrent at play on poppier songs like “Heaven Down Here” or “Love You to Death,” which almost feels like Siouxsie Sioux or Patti Smith fronting Buzzcocks.

I did a brief email interview with Clover who is busy preparing for a European tour and putting together a second album.

Kate Clover Interview

I love your version of “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not.” What was the inspiration to cover that song?
Kate Clover: X is one of my favorite bands and I wanted to pay homage to a group that informed a lot of my musical taste. I feel a kindred creative thread with them, a lot of that having to do with the fact that I grew up in LA.

When you wander the streets of Hollywood in 2022, is it still possible to commune with the energy of that original LA punk scene in any sense 40+ years later?
Kate Clover: I wasn’t around during those days so I’m not sure if that feeling remains. I love to chase ghosts of past music scenes and perhaps conjure some sort of energy from it. I get that from the music mostly but I love visiting places from the past.

What is it about ’70s punk, ’80s post-punk and ’90s Riot grrrl that speak to you?
Kate Clover: I absorbed those decades of music in my youth so I feel it’s part of my DNA. Being punk is something that you are born with and discover as you age. If you understand what all of those musical movements meant I feel it’s important to champion what they stood for.

I read that the first song you learned how to play was “Chinese Rocks” by Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers. How did your musical tastes evolve from there?
Kate Clover: I love all types of music. I started playing punk songs because they were easy to figure out. My biggest influences are X, The Gun Club and The Germs.

You and the band sound ferocious on Bleed Your Heart Out, but there are undeniable pop hooks all over the album. What comes first when you write a song?
Kate Clover: Thank you very much! It always begins with a riff or some chords. Everything gets shaped after that. Lyrics are always last.

Are you excited for your upcoming European tour?
Kate Clover: I’ve yet to tour Europe/UK as a solo act so I am excited to see the response. I’m very excited to play in places I’ve never been.

Can we expect new music any time soon?
Kate Clover: I’m almost done writing my second album and I plan on touring a lot more this year. Stay tuned!