Just living the dream

Australia's McClymont sisters have the country music world at their feet, Chris Johnson writes

Three sexy gals, who sing like angels, play guitars and mandolins and who all just happen to be sisters, decide to form a band together? Nah, that'll never work.

Well, actually …

The three sisters in question have not only rocked Australia for the past six years but they are making more than a little impression on the country music scene in America.

The McClymonts - that's Brooke, Samantha and Mollie - are on an upward trajectory that has so far clinched them as the darlings of Australian country music as well as positioned them as a burgeoning musical export.

Universal Records signed them up as a trio act in 2006 and it has been pretty much non-stop touring and recording ever since.

Their live shows have a contagious energy. Audiences can't get enough of them.


Their albums are classy and refined.

But in the end, they're still just sisters having a great time together. A time that none of them dreamed would be so exciting and so momentous.

''It's awesome, we've been so lucky. We've been touring for six years and the audience still keeps coming,'' says youngest sister Mollie.

''Some people don't get people turn out, so every time we have an audience we are just so grateful.

''We've been very lucky, but it's been a lot of hard work, too. Since we got that record deal we have worked our butts off.''

The McClymonts have played the Grand Ole Opry - twice. In case there is any doubt, that's the same Grand Ole Opry where a young Hank Williams stepped on stage way back in the day; where Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and so many other country music legends have left their own marks.

The revered Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee is, quite simply, country music's mecca with a weekly stage concert that has showcased and broadcast the biggest stars of the genre since 1925.

And our home-grown McClymonts were right at home in the home of country music.

''I guess Nashville is just the country music capital of the world and that's why we are drawn to it,'' Mollie says.

''It's got every producer, songwriter, engineer - anyone you want to work with is pretty much based in Nashville. It's got all the studios. Being there, the feeling that you get just going down Broadway or anywhere in the city, it's amazing.''

Which is why their third album, the newly-released Two Worlds Collide, has Nashville stamped all over it. A few of the album's tracks were recorded in Los Angeles, but the bulk were laid down in Nashville.

Taylor Swift's producer Nathan Chapman, who has worked on the McClymonts' previous offerings, joined forces with the girls again on a couple of the new CD's songs.

Peter Asher, a music industry giant who is ''just so wise'' and Luke Wooten, a Nashville stalwart who ''definitely brought the country to the album'' also left their imprints.

''When we were writing we didn't say 'hey we need to write a country album'. It's going to be country anyway just because of our voices and the harmonies we use - it's country,'' says Mollie.

''But because we all listen to and like other kinds of music, that really seeps into our writing.

''With the album, it's called Two Worlds Collide because it's about country meeting mainstream music; it's about us spending half of our time in Australia and half of it in America.

''And with the cover we wanted an image that portrayed polar opposites. So we have a glamorous picture of us on a couch, but the couch is on the beach and we tried to make it look like it belonged there.

''We actually had a lot of time to write the album. We had 12 months to write it and come up with the best songs. We wrote all of the tracks on the album and they're all so totally different from each other, but the production and everything makes them all fit together well.

''It shows growth, I guess, definitely in our writing. We all wrote together with other people and then we separated and wrote with others, just to get the best songs for the album.''

Which brings us back to the three talented and attractive women; still just sisters living their dream. They love Dolly Parton, The Eagles, The Judds, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood.

''We mostly listen to American country. We grew up on that,'' Mollie says.

''Dad listened to the old country music and Mum bought us the new country music.''

As young girls, the three would sing together just because it was a natural thing to do and something they really enjoyed.

Talent quests were entered, the trio sections were pursued and it all led to today where they live in each other's pockets almost 24/7.

Do they ever get on each other's nerves?

''Definitely, we are sisters,'' Mollie says.

''I think even friends get on each other's nerves, when you hear about what some bands go through. But we know what buttons not to push, I guess.

We do have that natural instinct about each other so you can tell when someone's in a bad mood and not to push it. I think it's easier when you have that natural instinct.

''I think the main thing we all actually agree on is music. We all like the same kind of music. When picking the songs for the album we all had the same seven or eight favourites and we just had to kind of discuss only three or four of the tracks. It's not a big difference.

''It's kind of really good being three of us, because one can always reason and it doesn't turn into a screaming match. So that's nice.

''But we always think that if we did it alone it would be quite lonely. So we really appreciate that we get to do it together and if something awesome happens we get to enjoy it all together.

''It would be a bit hard doing it all by myself. I don't know if could enjoy it or not.''

And do they ever get compared to the Dixie Chicks - America's all-girl country music superstars?

''All the time,'' Mollie says, ''but it's not a bad thing because we just love the Dixie Chicks.''

Two Worlds Collide is available now through Universal Music.

■ The McClymonts will appear at Vikings, Erindale, on September 22. Details: 6121 2131 or viking.events@vikings.com.au