She’s (Not) Just A Woman: Q&A With Clementine, Drummer Extraordinaire

Published on July 30th, 2009 in: Feminism, Issues, Music, Q&A |

One of the things that really appeals to me about your work in Francis Bakin is the experimental, psychedelic quality of the music. What challenges do you face when you switch from playing music you’ve created to recreating the very distinctive drum style of Bonzo or Phil Rudd? What do you take from being in a tribute band to making your own music?
Thanks so much for saying that. Francis Bakin was an unexpected turn for me. I kind of just started writing songs out of the blue and invented it as I went along with no vision of the outcome. It just sort of had to happen and I went with it. As far as the drums went, that was the easy part, and I knew what needed to be in every song. All the other stuff, the lyrics, the melodies, that was what took up all the brain power and I had to figure out how to do that as I went. I have such diverse interests musically, and really love electronica. I started out wanting to combine electronic beats with live beats. And once I had a drumbeat, the words and melodies came from that. I guess that’s probably a reverse way to work than say a guitarist would.

clem francis bakin
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One thing I take from Bonham and Rudd in any other music I do is the ability to be so precise and centered, with thought-out parts, and yet keep a sense of abandon that gives things the emotion. I guess that’s what I like about the combination of electronic and live drums. The electronics introduce sounds that are difficult to get on a drum kit, and the drums mixed in add a feel that gives takes away the rigidity of the computer drums.

I have another project, The Solid, which is an original heavy rock band that I play drums for, and which I started because I was missing not using this education to write original drum parts with a rock band. That’s where I really see how I’ve improved as a drummer playing in these bands, and it also allows me to see my own voice shining through. And I realize that for all the effort I put into playing the other drummers’ parts and feel, at the end of the day I can’t help but play it like me. I see myself in Zepparella more than I see Bonham. . . it will always be only my interpretation. I can’t help it.

Led Zeppelin were known for their raw sexuality, both onstage and off. As a woman, how do you deal with some of that explicit masculinity?
Drumming is about power. When I’m playing, I want to be HUGE, and envy the 250-pound male power drummers who have that weight behind them. Of course, going offstage, that’s never really my wish (I’m a chick, after all). So I have a real masculine side while playing. But then there are parts where I’m definitely channeling some raw feminine power, sort of like witchcraft and the power of the moon (to get all spooky on you). There’s a yin and yang. I think both Zeppelin and AC/DC had this dichotomy.

I had an argument last night with someone saying Zeppelin was misogynistic. I don’t see that in any way. Sex is exchange of power, and I think Zeppelin and AC/DC were speaking of both having it and losing it. Both Bon and Robert were rock gods, and very feminine and vulnerable at the same time. I don’t think it’s black and white. . . you’re a dude or you’re a girly girl. All the girls in the band are a mix of masculine and feminine power. It’s real life. And in the end, passion and work ethic trump the male or female label.

You’re playing in Boston the same night as Lez Zeppelin, the other all-female Zep tribute. Apart from the obvious, what would you say the difference between Lez Zep and your band is? Are you friends with them? When your tour schedule permits, do you play four-on-four pickup games of basketball?
We of course know about them and have communicated a little. In our minds, the more bands spreading the love of Zeppelin, the better. I haven’t seen them perform, but I’m sure we each just have our own take on it. I think we should have some concert where we do a double vision thing. . . two Bonhams, two Jimmys. . . what would that be like?!

Is this your first tour? How are audiences in other parts of the country liking Zepparella?
This is our first time to the East Coast with the band. Nila and I met in BOTTOM, a metal band from New York who toured the country many times. We can’t wait to get back! The band is super fortunate with the response we get. It’s a big love fest, and I’m hoping it will be the same there.

For more on Clementine, check out her website, or the MySpace pages for her various projects: Francis Bakin, The Solid, and Zepparella.

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One Response to “She’s (Not) Just A Woman: Q&A With Clementine, Drummer Extraordinaire”

  1. John:
    March 31st, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Yer Awesome Chris, keep on rockin’!

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