Jamestown Revival: Debut Spotlight
Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance grew up together in the small Texas town of Magnolia. From a young age, they shared a love for music as well as the outdoors. About an hour north of Magnolia, there was some old family land with a dilapidated ranch house where they spent the better part of their adolescence.
At one point or another, music from Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Everly Brothers to fellow Texans Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Stevie Ray Vaughan found its way through an old pair of speakers that sat on the back porch. They spent the day exploring that thousand-acre plot of land, and when the sun went down they took to the records of the songwriters and bands that inspired them. At age 22, they moved to Austin and began to craft their own musical identity. Deeply rooted in harmony, they merged the sounds of the South with classic American and Western rock.
Looking for adventure, as well as a change of pace, they eventually headed west to Los Angeles.
Throughout the course of the next 12 months, they wrote what is Jamestown Revival’s first full-length album, Utah. It’s heavily autobiographical, recounting their adventures, discomforts and observations. To capture the spirit of the music, the two found a log cabin high within the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The pair, along with their band and engineer, set out to convert it in to a temporary recording studio. With wild moose right outside the window and aspen leaves spinning in the wind, they tracked the 11 songs that make up Utah. Performed live, with no headphones and entirely to tape, the process captured the moments in the room.
Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance have since moved back to Austin, signed a record deal with Republic Records and reissued Utah with new arrangements of the three signature tracks. Through constant touring, the songs took on a life of their own, and these arrangements better reflect the songs as they are today. Teaming up with Republic gave Jonathan and Zach the chance to add to the album without sacrificing what was special about the original Utah. It was a chance to go back and record the growth that has occurred over the past year, and add to an already strong collection of recordings.
(Chance and Clay answer each question together.)
Who is your musical hero?
We have quite a few but we really look up to guys like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, John Prine, Waylon Jennings and Guy Clark.
Which song would you secretly love to cover?
“As long as I Can See the Light” by CCR. Great song!
What album tops your playlist?
What book is on your nightstand?
For Whom the Bell Tolls and a few books by Louis L’Amour.
What song do you wish you had written?
“I’d Have to Be Crazy” – such a beautiful song. Or “Me & Bobby McGee.”
What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?
“We’ll keep our heads down,” meaning we’re not satisfied with good enough. We’ll keep working hard to achieve what it is we’re after.”
What mode of transportation do you prefer?
Definitely driving over flying, although a motorcycle is probably the most exhilarating.
Ideally it would be Robert Redford and Paul Newman – just some classic bad asses!
Do you have a lucky charm?
“We have a lucky number that has been ever present in the band’s life. Whenever it occurs somewhere, we know we’re doing something right.”
If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?
The Life and Times of Your Crazy Uncle Zach.
What do you hope people will say about you when they look back on your life?
That I was honest, hardworking, thoughtful, caring and a damn good time to be around.
What would you put in your personal time capsule, for future artists and audiences?
My record collection.
If you weren’t a musical artist, what would you be?
A Forest Ranger for Parks Services. At least then my job would involve being outdoors.
What was your greatest performance to date – and why?
We’ve been fortunate enough to perform at a lot of venues that we’ve always strived for, but getting to open up for Merle Haggard sits pretty high atop our list.
We’re always on the hunt for a first-class sandwich shop and a quality milkshake.
What are your greatest short- and long-term challenges?
In the short-term, we’re focused on putting on the best live show we can right now in order to keep people coming back. That’s something we want to be able to hang our hat on is a great live show. Long-term, we want to continue to create music and tell stories in a way that is honest. The hope is being able call music our profession 30 years from now.
What can you tell us about yourself that we’d never guess about you?
I’m ordained and have married a couple before. I ain’t cheap, though!
PHOTO CAPTION & CREDIT: Jamestown Revival: Jonathan Clay and Zachary Chance; Photo credit: Republic Records
Performance of “California (Cast Iron Soul)”: