Rambling with Jamestown Revival
Jamestown Revival opened for the Wild Feathers and Saints of Valory at the 92 Zew Lough Dough show in Mobile, Alabama on January 31. The crowd was there for the headliners, but Jamestown Revival was the surprise of the night and made many new fans. Since then, the tour has stopped in the major cities along the east coast and crossed the border into Canada. During this, Jamestown Revival’s debut album Utah came out on February 11. Jamestown Revival is Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance and Clay answered our questions about the band on the day their album was released. Clay and Chance grew up in Magnolia, Texas but moved to Los Angeles, CA where they wrote most of the songs for their first album. They recorded the album in a cabin in the Wasatch mountains in Utah.
What is the meaning of the name Jamestown Revival?
It’s a reference to history. Abandoning what you know, for a foray into an uncertain future. Zach and I both left behind solo careers to start something completely from scratch. The thought of that always scared me to too much to let it happen. Writing our first song with this new perspective changed all of that, however.
Why is being revivalists important to you?
Because every other thing you see on a store shelf is made in China, and so many people are lacking basic skills that would truly embolden them. Knowledge is power, and having the ability to do things yourself will empower you like nothing else will. We’re trying to better ourselves every single day. Sometimes we succeed, and other times we miss the mark, but it’s a theme we try to keep alive every chance we get. One day it finally dawned on me that so many of the things I was paying other people to do, I could do myself if I put my mind to it. From rebuilding an old motorcycle, to repairing my broken tube amp. It changed the way I look at a lot of things.
Why is this music comforting and something we long for even though times have changed?
Because sometimes simple just feels good. My favorite songs are the songs that sit right out in the open for you to see. There’s no need to church them up. We want to try to write songs that will stand on their own two feet.
What is the first time you played music together? Was this your sound when you were teenagers?
We first played together when we were 15. Our sound has most definitely evolved since then, as has our taste in music, but we were always infatuated with harmony.
What does “cast iron soul” mean?
The more you cook with a cast iron skillet, the better it tastes. The more you experience in life, the more you can truly appreciate life. It’s our humble opinion that life experience is the spice of life itself.
I don’t even know you
And you’ve taken me away from home
I’ll never get over you
Feeling’s running straight to my bones
Someday I’ll be coming home
Someday I’ll be coming home
With a cast Iron Soul
“California (Cast Iron Soul)”
What are the fur coat blues?
They’re the kind of blues that feel bigger in your head than they are in reality. For us, it feels easy to get caught up in the here and now while we miss the big picture altogether. Taking a step back and seeing the big picture seems to really put things in to perspective. Maybe those blues we thought we had really weren’t so insurmountable after all.
I’m in some head high water
But I told my father I’d carry on his name with my
Sons and daughters
Raise them taller
And I’ll hang my hat beneath the tin roof rain
When I get through these fur coat blues
(“Fur Coat Blues”)
What is the story behind “Medicine?” It is quiet and simple and a contrast to all of the other songs on the album, but the lyrics are filled with turmoil.
It’s about the stress of the city. Being surrounded by so much concrete and hustle & bustle feels incredibly unnatural to us. Getting back in to mother nature helps to wipe all that stress right off of our plates. Mother nature is our medicine.
Tell about your songwriting and your connection with words. Your lyrics have clear, fresh phrases like “head-high water” and “tin roof rain.”
We can become somewhat obsessive with how something sings. For us, how a lyric sings is almost as important as the melody and lyric itself. It has to ‘feel good’ to sing.
How do shared influences and memories affect your songwriting and harmonies? You have tried the solo careers but say you are better together. Are each other’s voices stuck in your heads?
At this point, I think we would both feel pretty naked singing by ourselves again. Singing together just feels better. I enjoy it so much more not only as a performer, but as a writer as well. I can’t remember the last song either of us wrote solely on our own. Quite honestly though, I’m fine with that. Music was meant to be shared.
How did recording in the Wasatch Mountain seep into your music? What was it like to remove yourself from all distractions and be in the moment with nature and your songs.
It really did allow for us to get completely enthralled with the recording process. When we did get in to our own heads too much, stepping out in to the woods was the absolute best way to clear our minds and come back fresh.
Has moving to California been the shock and the next chapter you needed? Did moving away give you new perspective on the places you write about?
It absolutely has. It was just the right amount of ‘uncomfortable’. Being slightly uncomfortable seems to fuel the creative fire for us
Honestly, that point was when we came together to form JR. There wasn’t any definitive moment necessarily. It was just one of those things where we felt like we were truly where we needed to be.
What is it like to have your music ripple out to places like Mobile, Alabama? A place you have never been, but the crowd was excited about your music.
I still feel like it’s a fluke. We’ve been struggling for a long while to get anyone to even hear our music at all. To show up to a city where we’ve never been, and a handful of people are singing our songs, that’s a crazy thing. Albeit, it wasn’t like the whole room was singing along, but there were definitely people there who had heard our music. We know we’ve still got a long way to go, but damn, that’s such a cool thing – even if it is only a handful 🙂
Photography by Michelle Stancil