The Clockworks Merge Past, Future, & Reality on Hard Hitting “The Future Is Not What It Was”

The Clockworks © Oscar Ryan Photography
The Clockworks’ “The Future Is Not What It Was” captures the tiring nature of life today, and the disappointment that the future turned out this way.
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“The Future Is Not What It Was” – The Clockworks

Isn’t time a funny thing? It runs each of our lives, but it is not constant—sometimes minutes creep, then hours fly. Even our understanding of time is nonsensical: The future seems like some distant mythical land where technology will fix all the problems of the present. This isn’t new however—after all, 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey still feels like a sci-fi film and not a documentary.

The Future Is Not What It Was - The Clockworks

The Future Is Not What It Was – The Clockworks

Irish-born, London-based post-punks The Clockworks’ new single “The Future Is Not What It Was” tackles the future head-on. Entwining the ideas of time and post-capitalism, it’s a swirling head trip delivered in that manic, stream-of-conscious style made popular by fellow compatriots Fontaines DC and Murder Capital. “This song is about trying to bring together two main ideas: The feeling that everywhere you look things are going wrong, to the point of cynicism, and the way that the idea of the future is better that its reality,” says The Clockworks’ front person James McGregor. “Art and articles in the past would talk about 2020 and expect us to be driving flying cars in houses that clean themselves where nobody has to work. In reality we’re driving third hand Fiat Punto’s to 9-5’s that barely pay the rent. I guess the point is that the lifestyle may change but a lot of the problems are the same.“

Clocking in at under three minutes, every second is vital and they don’t waste a single one. Blasting off with drum beats and a staggered guitar, it soon explodes into a thought-inducing, rhythmic delivery that will leave you breathless.

The cops are sleeping 
While the shops are robbing us
The jobs are taken 
And your boss is a snob
Who thinks that 
Time is cheating him
His wife is doing the same 
Life is greeting us
With a ‘Fuck you and good day’
The Clockworks © Oscar Ryan Photography

The Clockworks © Oscar Ryan Photography

The verses are repeated, capturing the repetitive, monotonous struggle of our day-to-day lives. The only change is the frantic nature with which it’s delivered.  This creates the impending sense of chaos that is delivered in the last minute: An all-out assault on the senses, with the drum beat matching the pounding of McGregor’s delivery. This intensity is backed by screaming guitars and an obnoxious bass line that seemingly forces your heartbeat to race to catch up with it.

Who puts cops in the can?
Pander to backhanders?
Course they can
That’s just part and parcel of 
The humdrum in the hustle man
Settling your debts
Betting on roulette
That’s what we get when
Narcissistic slickers
Trick us into more installment plans
The future is not what it was
The future is not as good as it was

The song climaxes with one last chorus before bursting headlong into the distant past. “The Future Is Not What It Was” is an ode to the times we live in, capturing the tiring nature of today’s world, and the disappointment that the future turned out this way. It also marks a refreshing new take on the old punk tradition of demanding more. And as a culture, isn’t that what we need from our music more than ever?

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“The Future Is Not What It Was” – The Clockworks

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The Future Is Not What It Was - The Clockworks

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📸 © Oscar Ryan Photography

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Oliver Crook

Oliver Crook is a Canada-based journalist who has been playing guitar and deciphering lyrics since he first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” blasting through his older brother’s bedroom walls. Although his taste has (somewhat) developed since then, his passion is just as strong as ever. When not writing about music, he can be found drinking too much coffee, complaining about the finickiness of avocados, and being disappointed by all of his favourite sports teams.