A Mixtape Catastrophe
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Located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and in the heart of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is - like any small town in middle America - dominated by country music and Southern Rock fans. Yet since longtime college friends Daniel Basden (lead vocals, bass) and Steven Walker (electric guitar) joined forces in 2014 as When the Clock Strikes, those stereotypes have been blown to bits by their explosive pop-punk energy.
Driven by a powerful aesthetic blending mid-2000s emo/pop-punk and a few decades worth of classic video game scores, the band – which now includes drummer Blake Westerby – has electrified crowds in downtown Tulsa, at the Green Country Roots festival, Elephunk Music Festival and even a local GameStop for midnight release events. They also have performed in neighboring Missouri, Texas, & Arkansas. The band has followed up their 2016 release, The Better Friends EP, with their third EP, Overnight, in 2018.
The critical acclaim for the band, its intense energy, insightful songwriting and dynamic performances has been off the charts since the release of the project. Rick Jamm of Jampsphere Magazine wrote, “The lyrics are intriguing, metaphoric, and at times ironic. The songs are intense, loud and brilliantly arranged, with excellent vocals. If you’re looking for an evolution in punk, look no further than When the Clock Strikes.” Anthem Review pegs the trio’s genre and era-transcending excitement perfectly as it echoes: “(The Better Friends EP) is a five track release that sees the band dragging the mid-90s kicking and screaming into the present. The EP crosses unexpected barriers and fires through eras with absolute ease.”
“Lyrically,” Daniel says, “I think these songs are about our constant self-discovery and evaluation of the ever-changing relationships with the people in our lives. As time has gone on, the band has obviously become a larger part of our individual identities. Likewise, everyone else has shifts in priorities over time, especially with the onset of adulthood. So sometimes it feels like our ‘real friends’ that we love and trust are a ‘real drag’ because they are focusing inward rather than partaking in community. The title track, ‘Better Friends’ is definitely about the struggle of coexisting with people that we don't easily get along with. And ‘Redemption’ is a reminder to myself, and hopefully to others, that we all fall short, and perhaps we can empathize with each other because of our brokenness.”
The four core tracks of The Better Friends EP are complemented by a unique electronica-driven twist on the title track dubbed the “Lumpy Space Mix.” When The Clock Strikes had planned to do an all acoustic version of the song, but when Daniel brought in his MicroKorg synth to the session and started playing the song on it, their producer CJ Cochran built a whole hypnotic landscape around it. “It’s a departure from anything else we’d ever done, definitely very adventurous,” Daniel says. “It’s something different, yet it still fits.”
Those kinds of colorful departures are made possible by the trust and chemistry between Daniel, Steven and Blake. “Our friendship is an important element that it goes beyond our work in the band,” the singer adds. “I think everyone tries to be a team player. We spend time together outside of band activities when we can. We talk about our daily struggles. It's easier to push each other to do better and work through disagreements because we genuinely care about each other and trust each other.”