Two Feet In The Door

28 June 2012 | 9:46 am | Matt O'Neill

Between their immediate rise and widespread international acclaim, Melbourne’s Clubfeet have already developed a reputation as synth-pop svengalis. Ahead of their debut Australian tour, keys-man Montgomery Cooper explains to Matt O’Neill why they’re really not.

ontgomery Cooper is not what you'd expect. Clubfeet are such a mysterious act. In roughly eighteen months, they've released a critically acclaimed debut album (2010's Gold On Gold), secured praise and support around the world (including rave reviews from Pitchfork, The Guardian and NME), performed their debut live set at New York's CMJ Festival – and done so without even touring Australia.   Even today, there's still precious little information on their lives or careers available to the public.

One interview makes reference to secret pseudonyms – strange references to South Africa act as recurring motifs throughout reviews. There is a miasma of ambiguity and mystique to their profile, in other words. Yet, Montgomery Cooper – who handles keys and synths within the band – couldn't be more open.  “Ha. Actually, it was totally unplanned. We're not mastermind geniuses. It just happened by pure fluke,” he laughs. “I think that mystique just kind of happened. I mean, we're just such mysterious, handsome, international gentlemen. It definitely wasn't planned. I think it's just a matter of not touring. All our touring has been done overseas until now and I think people don't really get to know your band until you're actually on stage in front of them.”

Far from detached or aloof, Cooper seems more surprised. His anecdotes arrive dressed in a perpetually incredulous tone (“You go over to America and someone will ask you why you're there: 'Oh, I play in Clubfeet' 'Oh, AWESOME, I know Clubfeet!' 'What?!'). Each observation is punctuated by a burst of bemused laughter. To hear him tell it, Clubfeet's career has been pure serendipity. “It just happened a bit randomly. We're all mates and we were just fooling around and making tunes and that kind of stuff,” the keyboardist explains. “A label in the states – back in the MySpace days, around two or three years ago – liked some of the stuff we put up on our MySpace page and offered to put out a single. It ended up getting a lot of good press. It didn't sell many copies but it seemed to resonate really well in that tastemaker world. 

“You know, people like Pitchfork loved it, so it seemed logical that when we went to do shows, we would do them over there. It's where all the following kind of originally began. When we recorded an album, it made sense to put it out there as well,” he laughs. “The album was actually out in the US for a good six months before we even so much as threw a song at triple j. It's all very surreal.”  Which leaves Clubfeet in an interesting position. When you effectively crack America from the outset; how do you tackle Australia? Furthermore; when your earliest experiments are embraced as exceptional, how do you tackle your next release?

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Clubfeet's looming tour will actually be the band's first ever run of Australia dates. They're assembling their follow-up album in between jaunts (having just released a teaser with double A-side City of Light/This Time). Cooper is pragmatic. “We didn't really have much of an idea of what we wanted to do when we set out. We don't have any sort of master plan,” the keyboardist laughs. “I think you're kind of limited by the skills and the gear you have. Maybe there are some genius musicians out there who have a plan but, really, most bands I speak to have just made what they can with what they had. That's all we're really going to do.”