Vegas was recently graced with the self-described “bootgaze” sounds of Clementine Was Right when they played at Soulbelly BBQ on April 29th. Hailing originally from Denver, Colorado, Clementine Was Right was kind enough to close out their west coast tour here, making this their third time performing in this neon oasis of a town. At the show, Clementine was supported by three local powerhouses, all curated by Baka Booking: Diiphen, Post NC, and Elevated Undergrounds. Each of the four bands brought their sonic palette to the already BBQ infused air of Soulbelly that night, marking a successful close to Clementine Was Right’s eighteen-day west coast parade.
The morning after, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike Young (bandleader, guitarist, lead vocalist, and songwriter) and asking him a few questions that have occupied my mind since seeing the band last year. Something to note before listening: this interview was recorded in my living room.
That term, ‘bootgaze’, can you describe how you discovered it and your history with it?
“…so shoegaze, it comes from shoegaze, right? And like, shoegaze comes from bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, staring at their guitar pedals which are at their shoes and making these sonic landscapes based around distortion and feedback and whatnot. And bootgaze is the idea of doing that but with cowboy boots.”
I know you have a background in poetry, so I was wondering if you could describe your connection and history with language or prose in general?
“I’ve always been very verbal… filtering the world through language… For a long time, I had this relationship with language that it was this secret power, that whatever was happening. whatever I felt that was bad, or going through bad experiences, if I could articulate it or find something to “learn about it,” that could then be expressed through language, then it was sort of “worth it.” Like, the point of life was to explain it in language. I don’t feel as confident about that as I used to. … Songs to me feel somehow like, even though you obviously can have a song without language, to find a way of singing something is the most potent form that language can take.”
If you could take every aspect of Clementine Was Right, the lyrics, tone of the music, messaging, and you could manifest it as a person, how would you describe this person?
“I think that person would be a bit of a nomad, would be noticing a lot, would be moving through other people’s stories in a way where they almost don’t affect the story, but they do. Like, they try not to. They’re trying to just be an observer, but they end up getting embroiled. Probably have a cool cowboy shirt. Not beating the country allegations with that… If Clementine Was Right manifested as a person, it would manifest as two people trying to find a way to trust each other.”
I’m curious if you’re involved with the Denver scene, and if so, do you want to shout out anyone in particular, in any scene you’ve been involved in?
“I’ve lived in so many places. It’s hard for me to ever feel local, and I always feel like a transient. It’s the same with Denver to be honest. It has great people and great bands… Horse Bitch is this other band that’s friends of ours… I have a really hard time feeling at home anywhere. So, my relationship with these scenes, I always feel like an outsider even in the place I live, but I do admire people who cultivate a sense of rootedness and a sense of ‘we’re all going to grow this garden together.’ ‘Cause I think that’s the most sustainable human endeavor, is to have a collaborative garden in whatever form, like a real garden with cucumbers or a proverbial artistic garden. Maybe at some point in my life, I’ll shift into that gear… There’s a video game called Katamari, where you just roll around and the world sticks to you as you roll and that as an image has been pretty persistent in how I move through the world.”
I highly encourage tuning in and getting the full effect of Mike’s words, words that even when casually dropped in conversation have had a sincere impact on me and hopefully on you as well. I’d like to thank Mike Young and Gion Davis for talking with me about the band. I’d also like to thank Jake, Nate, and Carleen for their contributions to the band on this tour and thanks to the whole Clementine Was Right crew for being absolute delights to see and talk to.
Writer: Savino Rojas
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