Mica Magtoto / Ethos magazine

Getting to Know Clementine

A closer look at the up-and-coming Minneapolis-based band

By Mica Magtoto

Despite the cloak of a chilly March evening wind, Main Street remained lively — its heart pulsing to the beat of the drums.

In the third floor of a building at the intersection of Main Street and Kellogg Avenue is the Iowa Music Store. From the outside, colorful lights are thrown out the window against the stark night sky. As you walk up the creaking narrow staircase, you feel the clamor of the drums and the rumble of the bass pass from the floor and send a vibration throughout your body. A space no bigger than a dorm room, the store boasts a wide variety of music, art, light and a beaming Leslie Hall banner ready to welcome visitors.  Tonight, a young crowd is here to enjoy the Minneapolis-based ambient grunge band, Clementine.

Guitarists Christopher Connors and Pete Krausert started Clementine during their college years, and after several years, drummer Aaron McGuire and bassist Father Philip joined the band.

Father Philip, rocking a ponytail and unruly beard, may be quiet, but he manages to create a mixed vibe of positivity and aggressiveness. With a wanton side and great dance moves, Father Philip bonds the band like a family.

The band members emit an energy of camaraderie, and that’s validated when one gets to know their songwriting process. The process is a team effort, sometimes starting with lyrics first, sometimes with jams first, sometimes from inspirational dreams and sometimes from waking up to Father Philip’s bedside jamming. As four very different characters, they stay true to themselves, add their own flair to their music, and share an equal say in final decisions.

“We like to keep it organic and let it grow on its own,” says Connors.

“This group is a group with a lot of energy. We’re an earnest group of people and that comes through in our music. There’s volatility at the core of what we do. There’s a sense of desire to unleash something within ourselves, collectively…We try to honor different approaches, feels, and emotions,” said Krausert.

Clementine is on their first countrywide tour, which they say is a large step to establishing a larger fan base, as they prefer to spread their music through traditional word of mouth by meeting people and making new friends. They enjoy a supportive community at home and hope to reach more markets that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach through social media.

A band that proclaims to focus on quality rather than quantity, Clementine invests time and resources into music that people will value, rather than marketing themselves extensively — they say they enjoy making honest and meaningful music that strikes a chord with its audience.  

Mica Magtoto / Ethos magazine
Mica Magtoto / Ethos magazine

“I feel like I’m always longing for purpose and understanding of what life is about and that definitely comes through in our music — a yearning for something that might be there but always striving to understand it,” reminisced Connors.

The name Clementine evokes many meanings, but the creators didn’t intend it to mean anything significant. They just wanted to make music. McGuire compares music to waking up next to a strange dog and letting it out, only for it to keep returning and you to finally let it back in.  

After a strenuous two years, Clementine officially released their debut album, “Crooked Brain.” Their music consists of dynamic themes meant to resonate with audiences in different ways. In a world with endless genres and sub-genres, Clementine labels themselves as a rock band as they continue to find their roots.

“We don’t [stand out from other rocks bands],” McGuire laughed. “All rock bands are the same. We just want to be the same difference. I think standing out is not our choice. It’s ‘are people resonating with us in a way that is particular and unique? Is it striking a chord in a way that’s out of our hands?’ Ultimately, we want to be ourselves and part of ourselves is following our own inclinations to our own logical conclusions, which sometimes means utter filth and wildness.”

Despite financial hardships, the band continues to push through. Being traveling musicians is not a glamorous gig — however, it’s the sense of community, the alchemy of creating music and finding a sense of mutual understanding through music that keeps Clementine alive.