Meet The Commonheart’s Clinton Clegg
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Commonheart is a nine-piece, rock-soul group based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, featuring Abby Gross on saxophone, Mariko Reid on vocals, Anton DeFade on bass, Shawn McGregor on drums, Mike Minda on guitar, Lucas Bowman on keyboards, Nate Insko on trumpet, Kenny Stockard on vocals, Michael DeLuca on vocals and Clinton Clegg on vocals. The group is set to play at Schmiggity’s on Friday, Sept. 20.
Explore Steamboat: It sounds like your most recent album, “Pressure,” (released Aug. 16) was a much different process than your first album. Can you tell me about how that worked — musically and emotionally?
Clinton Clegg: “Pressure” was very different. We left our home of Pittsburgh, whereas our first record, we stayed and were in and out of the studio on a daily basis. This time, we went to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and lived there for two weeks, 14 hours a day. We felt isolated but in a good way; you take yourself out of distractions of your normal day. We were really able to focus. Working with the producer Jeremy McDonald really helped us find the way we wanted to sound on this record through discussion and listening to other music. It was something that really made this record its own and kind of changed the way the band plays our live shows. It was overall a real page-turner for the band in a lot of ways.
ES: In the month that “Pressure” has been out now, how have reactions to it been?
CC: It’s been really good. I’m getting a lot of great responses from people I’m close with; people seem to be listening to it. We’re really grateful and excited for that. I think people were really waiting for it for a long time, so it feels great to have it out there. It’s a big, deep breath.
ES: Also in the past few weeks, the band has made its Americanafest debut and released your own IPA at Pittsburgh’s Grist House.
CC: I’ll start with the beer — it was a pretty cool experience. (Grist House) approached us about a collaboration. The funny thing about that is I didn’t really know what it was going to taste like ’til the day of, so I was kind of crossing my fingers. It was really tasty. The Americanafest was awesome. The show went really well, and we were just thrilled about it. Gotta love Nashville.
What: The Commonheart at Schmiggity’s
When: 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20
Where: Schmiggity’s, 821 Lincoln Ave.
ES: I’ve heard you say that the band is therapy for you to be a better person. Can you share more about that?
CC: In my younger years, I was going through some identity crisis type stuff — my parents split up, and I started partying too much. I was struggling with finding my path — it’s kind of corny, but that’s how I was feeling. Then we started this band, and it felt like, “This is where I’m supposed to be; this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” I’d never felt that way before. Especially when we’re on stage, especially when we’re recording, it feels like I’m doing the right thing with my time and energy, and I’m a lot more at peace than I ever was in my younger years.
ES: You guys are all about positivity. Is it ever tough to stay positive? If so, how do you get reinspired and find that positivity to spread again?
CC: It’s always hard to stay positive; no one can claim to stay positive all the time. Things that bring me back to the center are my bandmates, friends and family — the support of good people around me. They can read me pretty good by now; they know all the rules to play. It’s different for everybody; that’s been another really interesting thing about traveling with the band: you learn everyone’s personality, if they’re having a good day or a bad day. It’s like I have eight new boyfriends and girlfriends, figuring them out. You just gotta remind yourself, it’s always your loved ones who bring you back, then you can start fresh and remember why you’re doing stuff.
ES: The pug in the “Wait” music video — tell us more about him or her.
CC: Her name is Ol’ Bess, and she’s my little girl. She doesn’t travel with me, unfortunately, but I miss her very much when we’re on the road. She’s the best, and she snores, and she follows me everywhere. That’s the homie right there.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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