Michael Deeds: Singer Alex Clare thrives on twist of fate

After his label dumps him, a Microsoft ad campaign propels his song 'Too Close' to global popularity.

April 28, 2013 

British singer-songwriter Alex Clare, who will headline April 30 at the Knitting Factory, is leading a charmed life - or at least, a charmed year.

In 2011, Clare released his debut album, "The Lateness of the Hour," on Island Records UK. But after it failed to sell - and Clare refused a high-profile gig opening for Adele because it fell on a Jewish holiday - the label jettisoned him.

Clare's career looked dim. But then Microsoft appeared. The company wanted to use Clare's dynamic, dubstep-influenced single, "Too Close," in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for Internet Explorer 9.

Ka-BOOM.

"Too Close" went global. Clare quickly re-signed with Universal Republic.

"The album's sold just under 600,000 copies, and then the single's sold maybe 5 million, so .... nice!" Clare says with a chuckle.

Phoning before a sold-out show in Portland, the 27-year-old peppers his English accent with titters and laughter.

But when it comes to being an Orthodox Jew, Clare's beliefs are no joke. He can't perform on high holy days, for example, or the sabbath - sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

This makes life as a singer a bit more complicated.

"It definitely has affected my career," Clare says, "but I think ultimately, positively. Because a month after being dropped, I had this worldwide top hit."

He laughs again.

"I think you get rewarded for the decisions you make. And that's a big principal of Judaism, is that you get what you put in."

Clare is no ordinary singer-songwriter. He grew up listening to soul, blues and jazz, which influenced his vocal style "100 percent," he says. Yet much of his music draws from electronica and dance-pop. It's a modern, computer-laced sound blended with organic, passionate singing.

"I love music, and I've never been limited by styles," he says. "If I write a song, I just write a song. It makes its way into the world regardless of genre."

Clare's eclectic attitude will continue on album No. 2, he says, which probably will be out in 2014.

But fans shouldn't expect the next record to be quite as ... "depressing in places," he adds.

"I had a few life-changing events in the last year or so," Clare explains in the understatement of the year, "and my outlook is a little bit more open and positive than it was when I was making 'The Lateness of the Hour.' "

It's hard to stay somber when your career gets not just saved, but supercharged, by a twist of fate.

Clare even got a better record deal when he nabbed a new contract with Universal, he says.

"Ha-ha-ha!" he proclaims mischievously. "It worked out in the end. It's pretty cool."

- 8 p.m. April 30, Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St., Boise. $16. TicketWeb. Opening: The Knocks.

'AMERICAN IDIOT' IS COMING

Green Day fans will have a reason to headbang at the Morrison Center on Monday, Dec. 2.

"American Idiot," the Tony Award-winning musical based on Green Day's album, will hit Boise for one show. It's part of the venue's Broadway series.

Tickets go on sale to season subscribers before they become available to the public.

CONCERT UPDATE

- The Uproar Festival - being billed as X Fest in the Boise market - will be headlined by Alice in Chains. Jane's Addiction, Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive also will perform on the main stage. The show is Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Idaho Center Amphitheater, and on sale now at ICTickets.

- Don't drink? Don't smoke? What do you do?

Go see Adam Ant. He's coming to the Revolution Center on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

I am not making this up. Tickets go on sale May 3 at Ticketfly for $29.50.

TONIGHT IN 'THE OTHER STUDIO'

Tim Johnstone and I remember George Jones and Chrissy Amphlett, play new music from Daft Punk and MGMT, and more.

"The Other Studio" airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

IN SCENE MAY 3

- Summer movie season officially begins with "Iron Man 3." We'll take a look at the action-packed summer ahead.

- Here comes Comic Book Day! A preview.

Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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