For countless millennials who grew up in the early ’90s, Kevin Smith’s film Clerks was somewhat of a comedy staple.
Presenting a day in the lives of store clerks, it’s a movie that is now often regarded as both a cult classic and a landmark in independent filmmaking.
Clerks was also a favourite of Irish artist, Carlo Magliocco whose song Mark the Map, features most recently in Clerks III.
So how did Carlo Magliocco get his music in the film?
Firstly, let’s go back to the beginning.
Carlo grew up in Drogheda. His parents had a takeaway on St. Laurence Street for years and they lived over that before they moved to the outskirts of town. “Lots of fields and very few people,” he tells me. “Kind of perfect, really”.
“I was always a pretty solitary kid so it was perfect to have something that I could focus all my efforts on that wasn’t a Final Fantasy game!” he muses. Carlo picked up the guitar at a young age but also, he says, kind of by accident.
“My parents bought my older brother a guitar when he was a teenager, not me,” he tells me. “He learned a couple of chords and was actually pretty good but he didn’t take to it.”
At eight years old, Carlo took it down from its case when his brother wasn’t around and started playing with it.
“I specifically remember trying to figure out the intro to The Simpsons and the second I got a few notes, I was totally hooked.”
Carlo then begged his parents for an electric guitar and they agreed, but only if he kept up with lessons for at least a year.
“I think they both thought I’d lose interest after a bit like, my brother did,” he says.
“Little did they know, it would become all I’d do all day, every day. I’d tab everything. Most days I’d just sit found hours watching TV and writing fake music to match the scenes of whatever was happening in whatever show was on.”
When it comes to creating music, Carlo says that he tends to think of “a vague theme or idea for a song and then just keep playing” until he finds something that fits what he hears in his head.
“The music part is usually pretty painless. I’m way more harsh on myself when it comes to the lyrics. I’ve songs that I’ll write 20 or 30 verses to and only be happy with three.”
When it comes to the actual music industry in Ireland, Carlo says that he has always home-recorded and self-released everything.
But Carlo adds that “going to college was probably the best thing that ever happened” to help his songwriting and it was there that he got super into musicians like Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell.
Carlo released an EP in his second year of college.
“I got about 100 copies pressed and sold them at gigs but after that, I took a break from gigging and recording,” he says. “I never stopped writing but it wasn’t really until five years ago that I got into home recording and started really focusing on music again.”
Carlo’s album Calendar came out in 2019. He wrote, recorded, played, and mixed the record himself in his spare room.
For that record, I decided I was going to record one song a month and put it on Soundcloud, every month, no matter what state it was in, for 10 months.
It added a level of urgency to what I was doing and got me out of my head a bit. Whatever happened, I promised myself that each month a song was going up. The reaction was really lovely. I felt really grew and changed as the year went on. I was a different person by the last song and I think it showed.
Carlo tells me that personal favourites on that album are Terrible Friends, Cycle (an instrumental) and Mark the Map which seems to be the song people most connected with and incidentally is the song that features in Clerks III.
“That still hasn’t sunk in with me,” he muses. “The way it all happened was just so unlikely. First off, I’ve been a massive Kevin Smith fan since I was a kid.”
“I used to work in a cinema with two of my best friends and we used to spend all our time sitting on its roof, talking about movies and dreaming about making them. Someone like Kevin Smith who managed to break through with an indie movie of next to zero budget, was an idol to me.”
Carlo saw a tweet from Kevin saying that he was looking for music for his new movie and he, mostly as a joke, just replied with “Well, if you’re looking for introspective folk music nobody likes, I’m your man” and linked a song.
A few seconds later Kevin liked the tweet and that was enough for Carlo to be texting his mates in glee!
About an hour later he got a direct message from someone connected to Kevin Smith asking for an MP3 of Mark the Map.
“I thought it was a joke and continued to not believe it until I was sent a contract!” he says.
“At one point, the music manager asked “Can you let me know who owns the songwriting, recordings, and production rights along with every musician featured” and I just mailed back, “Well, I wrote it, recorded it, play all the parts and put it out myself from my bedroom so I guess that’s me for everything” and they just wrote back “Well, that’s the most Kevin Smith answer we could have hoped for!”.
Carlo says that he didn’t allow himself to fully believe it until he saw the movie in the Lighthouse.
“I’m not going to lie, I cried in the cinema which I’m sure confused the folk around me who must have been like, ‘This dude really likes Clerks III'”.
Mark the Map was the first song Carlo wrote for Calendar and it was the song that really gave him the confidence to write the record.
“I came up with what I thought was a really full-sounding picking pattern that had both bass and melody in one,” he says of that song. “I also really enjoyed writing and recording a solo on electric – which I never do. With this song though, it just all kind of fit.”
Lyrically, Carlo wanted to write something about hope and about characters who, although they may feel hopeless right now, keep believing something better is coming.
It’s a song about people helping each other stay positive when they feel like giving up and that, Carlo thinks, may be why it resonated with people.
But what about plans for the future following that high?
Carlo Magliocco tells me that he’s just finished his second album and has 10 songs that he really loves so now it’s just a matter of getting them all recorded and sharing them with the world.
Go n-éirí go geal leis!