Liam McClair is one of the hardest working musicians around at the moment. He’s also one of the most humble. McClair doesn’t deal in rock and roll bluster, instead he lets his self-described “folk/pop” speak for itself like a running commentary on everything he sees in the world.
The songwriter is returning to the fray once again, with a nationwide tour to promote new record, ‘Hunted’, which calls at Leaf on Bold Street this week. We caught up with the sweet sounding singer and got the skinny on the things that matter to him and us: music and footy…
Your dad is Manchester United legend, Brian McClair. Was a life in football ever an option for you?
It was my first dream to play football. From about the age of 12, until I was 17, all I wanted to do was play football and that was pretty much all I did do!
But then music came calling?
Yeah’, I really enjoyed my time playing, but the sacrifice involved at that age wasn’t for me and it’s a true credit to everyone who makes that lifestyle choice… I think it’s amazing.
You still love the game, then…
Music and football are my passions: I coached football for a little while, which was really enjoyable, and I have my FA Level 1 badge, coaching at grassroots level in local primary schools. But, I really love music and to be touring a new single is really exciting.
Let’s get down to music. You spent a few years in Liverpool, didn’t you?
I started out singing in Liverpool when I was at Hope University. I love performing here and I’ve been really lucky to play for BBC Radio Merseyside and Liverpool Sound City… every time I come back, it brings back fond memories of where my musical career began.
You were great supporting The Bunnymen at the Phil last year. How was it?
An experience I’ll never forget! It was one of my favourite gigs to date – I’d always wanted to go in there but never had, so for the first time to actually be on-stage was a dream come true. The crowd were engaging and attentive and it must be the biggest venue I’ve played in.
Tell us about any other local artists you admire… maybe ones not quite as famous as Mac and the band!
There are so many brilliant musicians in Liverpool… I was definitely inspired to write more after hearing all the talent on offer wherever I played. I really like Thom Morecroft and Jimmy & The Revolvers. I’ve got Eleanor Nelly and Vanessa Murray supporting me at Leaf – they’re both fantastic, too.
What about your own sound… how would you describe it?
I am trying to make honest pop, though I think my music also has folk elements… people mention artists such as James Taylor, Coldplay and Bill Withers. It’s difficult to define – the new songs are confessional and open, but I think the feel and tone of the music gives the songs a grand feel.
You’re on a nationwide tour, do you like being on the road?
I enjoy the studio, but the road is where I began. I have spent most of my time as a musician travelling all over the place to play as many places as possible. Performing to new crowds is really exhilarating.
You certainly make the most out of being a modern musician.
Social media and the Internet are incredible tools to engage and connect with people – and share music in a way that is so accessible and immediate. I’m not sure it comes naturally to me, but I really enjoy the challenge of trying to word phrases in a certain way in order to catch people’s eye. You are constantly in competition online!
Liam McClair with support Eleanor Nelly and Vanessa Murray
Wednesday 11th May, Leaf on Bold Street, Liverpool