There is no shortage of aspiring young Albertan rock bands frenetically vying for space on digital playlists, but what sets Clockwork Crows apart from this mêlée of wannabe rock stars is their head-nodding, satisfying blend of original, catchy tunes.
This four-member Airdrie/Calgary-based band has been building a following with a sound that’s familiar, yet clearly distinct. They’re sometimes rock, sometimes blues, and sometimes a mash-up of rock and alternative reminiscent of the Foo Fighters, but that’s just the way they like it.
“It lets us play what we want,” says lead guitarist and vocalist Neal Janewski, 27, during an interview with the band.
The group had its beginning in 2013 when two longtime Airdrie friends – Kristofer Schofield, 26, who plays bass guitar and sings, and Janewski – advertised for a drummer on Kijiji. Calgarian Adam Styles, 23, auditioned, and the three became the core of Clockwork Crows.
They added a fourth member a few months ago, when Styles asked his friend, guitarist Marshal Wolff, also from Calgary, to join. He accepted and has been busy learning the band’s set list.
“It was time for a hobby anyway,” jokes Wolff, 23, who has a degree in neuroscience from the University of Calgary.
Why the name Clockwork Crows?
“The name – awful,” Styles answers, laughing.
Janewski explains: “It was me just going, ‘Do you like this name? How about this one?’ There really wasn’t any mythos behind it.”
The band’s distinctive sound, which can run from ballads to straight-up rock, to a light-metal sound with the odd rap lyric thrown into the mix, originates from their own individual musical tastes.
We all listen to too many different types of music to be nailed down to one genre,” Styles says.
“And it gets boring, too, if you just stick to one,” Schofield adds.
Janewski writes most of the lyrics and music, but invites input from his bandmates.
“Neal (Janewski) is very good at being collaborative,” Styles says. “If he brings us a song, any one of us can say, ‘what about this?’ Or, ‘what about that?”’
Janewski’s songs are penned from personal experiences, like the ballad Cascade Road, named after the street on which his mother once lived, or Reverse Elephant, an alternative-rock jam based on something a friend said.
“What’s cool about Neal’s lyrics,” Styles says, “is he has to tell you what they’re about.”
“I like to be vague, because then it opens up the songs to different interpretations,” Janewski explains.
Schofield and Janewski now live and work in Calgary, but brag about Airdrie being the birthplace of the band. Both have diplomas in sound engineering, but Schofield works in construction, and his friend is a chef. Styles and Wolff grew up together in Calgary, but Styles is employed in oil and gas logistics, and Wolff is currently working toward his PhD in neuroscience.
Their first full-length album is set to be released at the end of August, and will include 14 original songs, recorded and mixed by the band. With the album and their growing repertoire, Janewski feels Clockwork Crows is heading in the right direction.
And where might that be?
“Hopefully gigging more frequently,” Styles says.
“I should have learned all the songs by then,” quips Wolff.
The band will be “hard-core” promoting its album in the coming year, Schofield says, and after that, “We’d like to record a music video.”
“We’ve got some good ideas,” Janewski hints, but they’re not revealing anything just yet.