Photo by Randy Jarosz
Just like a sports team, The Commonheart have had a next man up approach, or in this case next women up approach, since the band’s inception 2 years ago. The 10 person group has seen a revolving door of local talent. Currently the line up stands as Clinton Clegg, lead vocals, Mike Minda, guitar, Shawn McGregor, drums, Ava Lintz, bass, Lucas Bowman, keyboards, Nate Insko, trumpet, Abby Gross, saxophone, Jess Hohman vocals and flute, Mikey DeLuca guitar, and Stephanie Ballard, vocals. The band is celebrating their long awaited debut album November 12 at Mr. Smalls. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a pair of tickets.
Sound Scene Express: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music
Clinton Clegg: The band was formed Oct 2014. The drummer and I, Shawn McGregor wanted to form a new group that would last. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, we wanted the group to be based around our strengths, and most of all we wanted to create a sound that was unified around a specific genre.
SSE: How was The Commonheart chosen as your band name?
CC: Picking the band name was a pain in the ass. Anyone that tells you otherwise is full of it. It is such a big thing that can make or break your band I think. We were going to be The Commonwealth for a few days but ultimately made the switch. We had our first show before we decided the name and the promoter our friend Ben Penigar from The Rex theater reached out and said “hey man, I need a name” (I’m paraphrasing) I pulled the trigger on The Commonheart, and here we are
SSE: Who writes your music? What is your/their inspiration?
CC: In the beginning I came to the table with a handful of songs and worked with the band on arrangement, and then we were off and running. That holds true today, I am typically bringing ideas to the table and then we work together on arrangements. Not always the case though, Who Dat Mama for example track 1 on the record was written by the whole band together in less then 20 minutes. It was just Ava (bass) and Shawn jamming on a groove and next thing you know we have a song. Those ones are fun!
SSE: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
CC: Rehearsals are every Monday and Thursday in the evening. We try to have a plan going in each week. For example we may have a vocal rehearsal or writing session with less members. Having 10 is challenging so we have to keep some sort of agenda.
SSE: What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are youseeking fame and fortune?
CC: Fame? Eh. Fortune? Yes please. I want to tour and make a living by playing music and recording records with this band.
SSE: You are about to release your first full length “Grown,” what was the process like?
CC: The process was long and painless. I love being in the studio, its a test of patience and trust. I learn something new every time I am involved with any recording.
SSE: You played in Backstabbing Good People, is that something that could ever be
CC: Not in a full time capacity but there has been talk of at least a reunion show. I would love to do that!
SSE: Backstabbing Good People can probably be viewed as a supergroup now. What was it like playing with Max and Zoob and Shawn?
CC: I could do a whole separate interview about my affection for those guys. That band was huge class on how to be band. I think we all took something away from it that made us who we are now.
SSE: For those who haven’t seen The Commonheart live, what can we expect?
CC: A show full of passion and energy. Its a throwback, we are something from the past that you can’t place but, you feel like you have known us for years. We try to give everything we have every show.
SSE: What is your favorite Commonheart song and why?
CC: We have a song called Pray. Its a testament to my Mothers sheer will of having me grow up in a church. One of my first thoughts when we started The Commonheart was doing some gospel type numbers. It came true on this tune.
SSE: Who is your favorite Pittsburgh band/musician?
CC: Oh I am such a Wreck Loose fan boy. Max is the best songwriter in Pittsburgh. Keep an eye out for their new record.
SSE: What can we expect from your release show November 12?
CC: First of all, our opener Steeltown Horns, do not miss them. Absolute incredible band. Then we plan to do what we do. Put on the best show possible for our fans.
SSE: What’s next for The Commonheart (big tour, long break, etc.)?
CC: Our plan is to continue to tour regionally and shop the record and try to get picked up. We are planning a big tour to Ausitn, TX and back for SXSW in March.