Kettering-based singer/songwriter DAVE CLEMO talked about his ministry and his latest album to Tony Cummings.
Since he first emerged onto the UK scene in 1994 with the independent album 'Change Of Heart' Kettering-based Dave Clemo has been a faithful grassroots gospel communicator. His early recordings won him the moniker The Kettering Cowboy though in truth his recent albums have little country music influence and are rather intriguing pop rock hybrids with a strong worship focus. Dave's latest rendition of "Amazing Grace" and his rocked up version of "To God Be The Glory" have been enjoying Christian radio play around the world. Meeting up with this musical stalwart in the Cross Rhythms HQ I began by asking Dave about his latest album 'Shine For You'.
He responded, "It seemed like the recording process was going on forever. I thought I'd never get to finish it but praise God it is finished at last. It's an album about grace and the title song is based on 1 Corinthians 3 - the little passage about everything that we make, all our works will be tested by fire. If it's any good it remains as treasure and if it's no good it gets burnt up. I believe that God is refining us and as we burn I'm gonna shine, I'm gonna shine for you."
The album was recorded at Dave's own home recording studio. "My son Chris and I decided that we'd convert the garage to a studio so we have a small studio in the garage. Quite useful if you want to go in and let off steam by thumping away on the drum kit without annoying the neighbours. But one of the good things about it is it means that I can have a hands on approach to creating an album right from the beginning to end so when I decide that it's time to start a new album I'll go in and practice the songs with just an acoustic guitar. Then I'll record them with just me singing and with just an acoustic guitar and we'll use those as the templates for the song. I have a friend called Pete Bultitude who plays drums for me. He's a worship leader at Praise Community in Kettering but he also plays drums so he'll come in and he'll spend a few sessions with me getting the drums right and then from then on it's very organic. Add a bit of guitar, listen to it, add a bit of bass, listen to it and just gradually build up the sound that I'm looking for. Sometimes it's a process of trial and error even to the point of actually saying No, this isn't going to work. We'll start again. But because I'm not actually paying the studio hire, I can actually have the luxury of having a lot of time so I can actually listen to it and refine it as it's going on. So they're always a work in progress if you like."
One of the most intriguing titles on 'Shine For You' is "Life Before Death". I asked Dave for the history of that particular song. "I wrote it nine or 10 years ago, something like that. At the time Sue, my wife, was the area organiser for Christian Aid and they re-branded their slogan Life Before Death and I was called to write a song which said that. And it's just sat around until this time I felt it was time to record it and I think it worked ok. And at the time that I was recording there was all this the famine in sub Saharan Africa at the particular time and so it felt like it came back around again."
Possibly the most hard-hitting title on 'Shine For You' is "Love God Hate Sin". "Someone gave me a tee shirt that had 'Love God Hate Sin' on it and in a way it is a bit of sloganeering Christianity. But I tried to temper it by saying 'Love the sinner hate the sin' which is what we are called to do. The verse is saying really that it is purely down to God's grace that we can stand in any case."
I asked Dave what kind of concerts he was doing these days. Was it mainly in churches? "It comes in seasons," he responded. "We do still have our worship leading ministry and occasionally I'm able to use one of the songs off an album within the worship service. But in terms of using the songs on the albums, we occasionally get invited to concerts, and I thank everybody for that. This year we've done bandstands in town centres, we sing on steps, sing in parks. There was a transport show near Kettering recently and the Truckers For Jesus people asked me to come and be on their stand and sing the songs for anybody passing by. So those are kind of some of the things as well as the mainstream concerts, various festivals and things that we get called into doing. But tell me where to stand and I'm happy to sing a song for you."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.