BandWagon Magazine - June 2024 - Shane Smith & The Saints

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3 BANDWAGMAG.COM BANDS AND MUSICIANS Submit your MUSIC for review: BANDWAGON MAGAZINE 802 9TH ST. GREELEY, CO 80631 submissions@bandwagmag.com PG.12 BANDWAGON MAGAZINE 2024 BANDWAGON LTD. © @BandWagonPresents Check out our socials! Advertising Information: ads@bandwagmag.com Editorial Info/Requests: editor@bandwagmag.com Any other inquiries: bandwagmag@gmail.com CONTACT US ELY CORLISS Publisher BANDWAGON STAFF Editor CARTER KERNS art director LANDON UNGERMAN NATE WILDE GABE ALLEN CONTRIBUTORS PG.18 romero MUSIC review PG.6 clementine SHANE SMITH and the Saints
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romero

If you’ve been around various music scenes across Colorado for long enough, it’s likely that you’ve crossed paths with Christopher Charles Romero in one way or another. Widely known by his surname alone these days, Romero has a long history of playing alongside premiere artists in a variety of genres including rock, nu metal, and country, to name a few.

Now, with his latest and fifth solo effort, “Cinco de la Rocknrolla”, Romero has taken a

bit of a detour from the crunchy guitars to put out what could arguably be considered his most vulnerable, introspective, and simply put, most “Romero” release to date.

Released on Friday, May 17, “Cinco de la Rocknrolla” is a window into Romero’s soul as we’ve never quite seen before.

Written and recorded primarily in Nashville, Romero challenged himself to put together a record featuring his own playing on every instrument and with the exception of one cover, a haunting rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ originally conceived for a film, and one collaboration, the forlorn closing track ‘Wild Love’ with filmmaker Eric Weinstock, all of the music and lyrics were written by the project’s namesake as well.

Tracks like ‘Let it Go’ and ‘So Right’ spotlight lush, layered guitars accompanying remarkable vocal harmonies and melodies reminiscent of artists including Ryan Adams and the more stripped-down ‘90s efforts

from the likes of Zakk Wylde, Alice in Chains, and Soul Asylum.

While the record maintains an overall mood throughout, touches of country-tinged Americana shine through on tracks such as ‘Vagabond’ and the aptly titled, ‘Lost in Nashville,’ both of which were inspired by not only the geographical location in which Romero found himself at the time, but also the plethora of professional and widely-respected musicians he’s rubbed elbows with over the course of this most-recent journey.

While every track on “Cinco de la Rocknrolla” contributes to making it the masterpiece that it is, the crowning moment could quite possibly be found in

the previously released single, ‘Afterglow (Staring at the Sky.)’ With its forlorn-yet-positive feel, featuring melodies reminiscent of The Beatles accompanied by faux-sitar guitar passages and big harmonies, every instrument and vocal performed by Romero on the track comes together to create a truly impressive climax to the record.

From beginning to end, “Cinco de la Rocknrolla” is an undeniably beautiful glimpse into the heart and soul of one of Colorado’s most well-known and well-versed artists. We just call him “Romero.”

Catch Romero live as direct support Cheap Trick on Thursday, July 4th at The Greeley Stampede.

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Nate Wilde BandWagon Magazine Cinco de la Rocknrolla
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SHANE SMITH and the Saints are on fire (in the ocean)

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Shane Smith and the Saints were headed to a show in Lubbock, Texas back in 2019, when the band’s tour bus spontaneously caught fire. As smoke billowed from the engine, the entourage spilled out onto the side of the road. Everyone got out in time, but not everything. They watched on as their tourworn instruments and gear burned.

The band quickly scrapped enough equipment to stay on the road, but not for long. Just a few months later, COVID-19 shut down venues across the country. It was a tough pill to swallow for a band that had spent years grinding the bar scene and was finally headlining clubs.

“Those were just really hard times for us,” Smith told Bandwagon.

At this point, the band could have given up. And, by Smith’s own admission, there were moments when he felt they should. They had given it everything they had, and it hadn’t turned out well. But, rockstars aren’t made during the fat years. They’re made during salad days. They’re made at rock bottom. So, as soon as they could, the band started playing shows again. This time with a thirst for redemption.

In 2021, they made their first appearance at Red Rocks Amphitheater, opening for Memphis country-punk outfit Lucero. “I’ve seen the enormity of Red Rocks swallow up talented artists before, but not this time – the Saints showed no fear,” one reviewer remarked. At the show, Lucero’s Ben Nichols joked that he hoped to open for them some day.

And that day may be here. Shane Smith and the Saints haven’t stopped hitting milestones since. In 2022, they were featured on the hit TV show Yellowstone. This year, they released a heavily-anticipated new album: “Norther.” The last track on the record, “Fire in the Ocean,” has 5 million streams on Spotify. This week, they’ll take the stage on the second Friday of the Greeley Stampede.

The seeds for the Saints were planted in 2009 in Austin, Texas, when Smith met Bennett Brown, a wiry, bearded fiddle player with a wide-ranging love for outdoor sports. Brown and Smith hit it off and started jamming regularly. While Smith’s roots were in country, folk and Americana, Brown had grown up playing Appalachian fiddle standards and bluegrass. The sound that emerged is one that has stuck with the band until today.

At first, Smith and Brown played acoustic bar gigs and open mic nights around Austin. But, as they honed their sound and became more confident, the duo picked up two more band members: Dustin Schaefer on electric guitar, Chase Satterwhite on bass and Zach Stover on the drumset. With a full band and a couple of sets of original tunes, Shane Smith and the Saints hit the road and never looked back.

“It just continued to build from there,” Smith said.

Fifteen years later, the Saints have retired from the dive bar circuit. In May, the band returned to Red Rocks for the third time, their second as a headliner. As Smith waited backstage, he steeled himself to walk out to a crowd of thousands of fans, with thousands more joining digitally via a YouTube live stream.

“I MADE A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO TRY TO BE VERY PRESENT DURING THAT SET AND NOT JUST FOCUS ON THE LOGISTICS OF IT ALL,” SMITH SAID. “IT’S A VERY POWERFUL THING TO ABSORB IF YOU’RE ABLE TO TAKE A MOMENT TO.”

At this point, Smith has shared stages with many of his musical heroes. At the Red Rocks show, one of them opened for the Saints: Hayes Carll. Near the end of the set, Smith called him on to the stage for a cover of the Townes Van Zandt classic “Pancho and Lefty.”

“I’m gonna bring out somebody who is literally my favorite songwriter of all time. He played the show with us tonight, and it’s extremely full-circle for me to even have him on the stage with us,” Smith told the crowd.

Moments like this have become more and more common as the Saints’ profile grows. But, Smith doesn’t take them for granted. Bar gigs for gas money aren’t too far in the rearview, and sometimes it all feels a bit surreal.

“I’m still honestly shocked over how many elements of our career have manifested up to this point,” he remarked.

Though the venues have changed, the band has stayed true to its roots. “Norther” is nearly an hour of back-to-back hooky country-rock tunes. Schaefer, Satterwhite and Stover provide a driving hard-rock foundation behind Smith’s raspy voice and heartfelt lyrics. Brown’s fiddle soars over the top of the mix, infusing at times celtic and at times Appalachian vibes into the mix. The result is a bigger, more fully-realized version of the unique sound the Saints’ have been slinging from the beginning. Years on the road have led them here.

“Rose to rose you drink it all in. As fast as you can dyin’ to win,” Smith sings on “Hummingbird,” a slow-burning ballad with an epic climax.

The Saints are well on their way to recognition beyond even the country scene. But, Smith’s priorities are the same as they were back in 2009, when he first met Brown.

“I just wanted to see us playing legitimate venues and producing music that impacted people the same way that several songwriters had really moved me early on,” he told Bandwagon.

CATCH SHANE SMITH & THE SAINTS LIVE AT THE GREELEY STAMPEDE ON FRIDAY, JULY 5TH, AND TUNE INTO THEIR LATEST RECORD, “NORTHER,” WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR MUSIC!

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clementine Growing Up Punk

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A young alternative rock band is making waves in the Rockies, with black Sharpie X’s on their hands, handed out by security bouncers at venues across the state. Meet clementine, the Fort Collins-based band that's lighting up the Colorado music scene. This overthe-top rock group is just a bunch of college friends with roots stretching back to fourth grade. As they gear up to drop their first full-length album and hit the road for their first out-of-state tour, clementine's raw, organic vibe is impossible to ignore. To its members, the band is all about having fun and creating music with lifelong friends.

A group of friends united by their love of music and a bit of chance started when Keiran (20, Guitar) brought his buddies Sam (19, Guitar) and Caleb (20, Drums) together for some jam sessions. These sessions began as casual, no-expectation jams, but when they brought in lead singer Larin (20) to fill the gaps, suddenly, the group had a solid identity, and clementine was born. “We’ve all known each other almost our whole lives,” Sam shared in an interview with BandWagon Magazine. Even their bassist, Elizabeth, who discovered clementine at a backyard concert, recognized them from school and offered to join, had attended middle school with the rest of the band. As the project grew piece by piece, it never strayed from its origins: a group of friends with a shared passion for music, all hailing from the same corner of Fort Collins.

clementine’s aspirations are as humble as their beginnings. As Sam puts it,

“I feel like we’ve achieved all the goals that I wanted to reach, but it’s definitely not game over anytime soon.” They’ve just wrapped up recording their first full-length album and already have plans for another. As friends, they’ve played shows in cities across Colorado, creating countless memories along the way. clementine’s motivations are straightforward, freeing them from pressure while allowing their music to remain authentic. Despite their simple approach, the band has a lot in store. They’re gearing up for a run of out-ofstate gigs, a hometown headliner at the Aggie, and major festival appearances including the Underground Music Showcase in Denver. This summer, clementine will be presenting their first complete work to a whole new audience. Elizabeth explains, “My parents constantly tell me I should look around at all of these moments happening around me, but in the moment, nothing feels all that monumental. It’s in retrospect that I’m like, ‘Damn, it is cool that we did that.’” The band members emphasize how amazing it’s been to grow into a community of music in Colorado, leaning on each other for support while navigating a new landscape of relationships and opportunities.

Having grown up in the same community, clementine takes immense pride in their hometown shows, but for them, the real thrill is playing in new cities and bringing those stories back home. On the road, with hours of driving and instruments awkwardly shoved between band members, there's nowhere else

they'd rather be than together: “It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s so much fun to go through it together,” they say. The band recalls countless bizarre experiences from their shows, like getting towed, bombarded by obsessed fans on Instagram, and that unforgettable time when Larin, the lead singer, got mobbed by a bunch of girls (and their moms) who then gave him a bag of shoes. It’s these stories that make all the rehearsals and travel worth it for clementine.

“In a band, there are so many highs and lows, but when we’re able to put on a really good show, in front of any amount of people, it’s just nice. Again, we’re just having a good time with our buddies on stage.” - Sam, clementine

Although the group runs a low-key operation, clementine’s fan base is growing by the day. Thousands of listeners tuned into their last release, “Plastic Smile,” a track that captures the band's raw, honest vibe perfectly. What started as a stagnant idea slowly came to life as each band member added their touch, with Caleb, the drummer, driving it creatively to its final form before its release last January. The song dives into the tough choices of growing out of old ways and finding yourself. Their upcoming record continues this journey, tackling themes of mental health and youth. Recorded at the Blasting Room with the expertise of engineer Miles Stevenson, clementine’s next record stands as their first truly cohesive work, bringing out the unique nuances that define their sound.

The release party for the new album is set for July 19th at The Aggie in Fort Collins. Tickets are available now, so snag yours and support the freshest new crew on the scene, clementine!

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