Front and Center: Drummer/Singer/Songwriter, Clementine

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Drummer/Singer/Songwriter, Clementine

Clementine. Photographed in June 2013 at Max Crace Studio in Austin Texas.Recently showcasing her powerhouse drumming at the 2015 She Rocks Awards, Clementine’s playing is charismatic and absolutely unforgettable.

A standout in the relatively small field of female drummers, her intensely passionate performance style has made her an instant favorite of audiences throughout the United States and Europe.

She is the founder of Zeparella, an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute that puts her alongside the talented musicians Gretchen Menn (guitar), Angeline Saris (bass), and Noelle Doughty (vocals).

In addition to packing clubs with Zeparella, Clementine is the drummer/vocalist for Stars Turn Me On, a songwriting collaboration that draws on country, soul and rock influences.

Below we chat with Clementine about music and much more. Check out clemthegreat.com and zepparella.com for the latest.

WiMN: What made you choose drums above other instruments?

C: A series of circumstances led me to the drums. They were the first instrument that I really enjoyed practicing. I would come home and see them and think, I want to do THAT. Before, with piano or flute or guitar, it was always a chore. Plus, I had a fantastic drum teacher… Fred Klatz in New York City.

WiMN: When did you realize you wanted to be a professional musician?

C: I started learning to play the drums in my 20s because I thought, “Well, that would be a nice career, to be a musician. I could travel for work, and constantly be learning something. How about drums? I’ve never tried that before.”

That is the completely unrealistic and misguided way my mind works. But then, here I am!

WiMN: What have some of your most exciting career moments been?

C: So many! Playing 320 shows in 12 months with my band BOTTOM was pretty exciting. Three women, an Econoline 150, and a fantastic booking agent and we were playing stoner rock across the country. Many many stories with that experience. Then, moving from the drums to fronting a band has been fraught with terror, but a wonderful challenge.

WiMN: You are the founder of Zepparella. How did this project come about?

C: Gretchen Menn and I wanted to play more than the band we were in was playing. I told her, I would love to learn the catalog of Bonham. A few years before, I had tried to form the project, but it hadn’t worked. Gretchen said she’d like to learn the Page material, and that pretty much sealed the deal. It’s an endless education, and Zeppelin fans are so wonderful. We didn’t know we were getting such a community when we started the band.

WiMN: You’re also a talented singer and songwriter – what other projects are you working on?

C: I have a solo project with guitarist Justin Caucutt called Stars Turn Me On. I write lyrics for various artists, which I love to do. And I’m starting a project with guitarist Adrian Conner that combines electronic and acoustic drumming. I love electronic drum sounds, and putting them together live is exciting to me. That project should be up and running later in the year.

WiMN: Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.

C: I am basically a hippie. In about 30 minutes I’m heading into a 10-day silent meditation retreat, which I can’t WAIT to begin. It’ll be my fifth.

WiMN: What’s the hardest Led Zeppelin song to cover on drums?

C: Achilles Last Stand. When I started the band, a friend who had been playing for 40 years told me, “I’ll do you a favor and tell you a secret: don’t even try it.”

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?

C: I guess it could be called a challenge, but I actually love being underestimated. I play the way I do because of so many experiences of loading into venues and getting hit with lots of assumptions about the way I was going to play, condescension from soundmen or bartenders or just general attitude toward female bands in general. My way has always been, kill them with kindness, and then when the show begins, I’m going to rattle your liver with my snare drum. Ha!

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