Joyful noise

Clemency makes Gem City debut at Bob’s

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Jason and Paul Watkins began writing music together in Oklahoma during high school

There’s something about brothers and rock ‘n’ roll that just seems to make magic. From Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks to Chris and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, music history is littered with bands of siblings that harness the kinetic energy that comes with blood relation.

Jason and Paul Watkins of Nashville band Clemency are no exception.

Growing up in Oklahoma, the pair began writing songs together in high school, releasing a full-length album and two EPs in the years since. Their latest, titled You’ve Got the Fire, dropped on Feb. 10.

As with their previous EP, My Heart is the Eastern Horizon, the band released a series of videos with the album, but the vibe this time around was more artistically ambitious, according to Jason Watkins.

“We did a concept for every song on our last record and really loved how that brought an extra visual element to the music,” Watkins said. “This time, we wanted to do that again, but we wanted to up the ante. The best way to do that was tell an overarching story through the whole record. When we wrote the album, we didn’t necessarily set out to write a concept record, but I feel like a running theme was being found in all the songs so it really lent itself to telling an overarching story.”

They brought in their videographer friend to help with shooting, but the concept came straight from the brothers.

“It was kind of born with the songs and we kind of dreamed about it and developed the story and characters,” Watkins said. “We have a buddy named Joey Williams that Paul went to school with at Belmont University in Nashville and he’s a videographer. We kind of dreamed these stories up and wrote the treatment and grabbed him. He tried to capture on film what we are envisioning. It was a really fun process.”

The band again brought in producer Brent Milligan and the continuity of working with the same producer over all three recordings has yielded a mature and powerful sound.

Perhaps the most striking aspect is the positivity that emanates from the songs.

“I think that’s always been our philosophy and our approach to music,” Watkins said. “We want to make music that’s joyous. When people put our music on, we want it to kind of lift them up and make their day better. That’s just always the music that’s resonated with us and the music we want to make.”

There is no shoe-gazing angst here. The songs bounce and explode in tracks like “Color Hits the Canvas” and “Let Love Show You the Way.” While a strong pop sensibility permeates, a myriad of stylistic elements emerge – from electro-art to radio-friendly rock.

While most people likely equate Nashville to its country music roots, the city has recently seen a rebirth as an indie rock haven. Watkins said it’s hard not to be inspired in such an environment.

“There’s all kinds of music here and it is cool,” Watkins said. “You can go to a show every night. You get to hear the latest and what people are kind of getting hip to. I do think it kind of molds and shapes and influences your sound by being surrounded by a lot of talented artistic people.”

While not necessarily road dogs, the band will tour this spring and fall to support the album. In between, they will continue to write and record, but Watkins said they feel a real anticipation behind You’ve Got the Fire. They are excited to get it into the ears of music lovers.

“I feel like this is our biggest push to date,” Watkins said. “It’s been a lot of work leading up to it. We just did a release show in town this last week and we’ve been busy guys. We get to let go of it and let people hear it – see what they think about it, but also it feels like a big buzz and anticipation.”

Though they have played Ohio before, this marks the band’s first trip to Dayton. Fans can expect the same uplifting experience the albums offer.

“I think they can expect a lot of great energy,” Watkins said. “We have a lot of fun on stage. We like to bring the crowd into it and not be so formal. We take pride in performing the songs well and having a lot of energy. It’s a fun time.”

Clemency will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Tickets are $5. The band’s new album features a set of video releases that can be seen at For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at

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