Zombie robot barflies ogle a damsel, a gum-chewing pig plays poker and is shot in the head while University of Nevada, Reno cheerleaders dance on a smoky casino stage. This dreamy Reno-branded reality has made local band Clementine’s Knight big on the internet with a quarter million views in less than six months.
“I run into people all the time and tell them what band I am in, and they are like, ’I have heard of you,’” says lead guitarist Trevor Ward. “And I am like, ’Where have you heard us? I know you haven’t been to one of the five live shows we have played.’”
They have been contacted by a manager and a Portland band asked them to tour. But there are a few problems. Their songs are layers of instruments recorded individually, “which doesn’t work well for live shows,” Ward said. They didn’t have a drummer until a couple of weeks ago, and they need money.
“We don’t have anything for sale,” says lead singer Joseph Siino. “That is why we are in a rush while we have some attention. We really want to go for it this summer. There really isn’t a big rock band that has come out of Reno. It would be awesome if we were that band.”
For now, their claims to fame are the YouTube videos. Their most successful video is “Something Like a Dream,” posted just three months ago, which drew a concert of 134,000 views. It has Reno written all over it. A cowboy walks across the desert toward Reno, the lead singer takes the last swig of his whiskey, then UNR cheerleaders flash winks and dance provocatively in a lounge while the band plays under the Reno Arch.
“We got a comment [on the video], ’I guess these guys are from Reno,” Siino said. “I only thought about that after producing the video, should we have pinpointed ourself so much?”
Siino and Ward say their inspiration for the videos comes from Reno’s western grittiness to the starry clear skies.
“We have old buildings and nice people at the same time,” Siino says. “Reno has a lot of contrast. I like things that don’t mix. When you have all these things they kind of oddly fit.”
Some of their online success can be attributed to a cowboy in the video “Something Like a Dream” who unleashes six-shooter gunfire on a real pig’s head. That guy is UNR Media Manager Mark Gandolfo. Siino was his assistant. “He would just guide me.”
Siino graduated from UNR this year.
“Crown your fears and kneel for tasteless dreams,” he sings in one song. “Dry your tears and die a standing king.”
“That is kind of like a choice,” he says. “You can give into your fears and you kind of succumb to the life around you. Or you can fight for your dreams and even if you fail, you chased something noble. It is kind of like the idea of the tragic hero. A good story is something you experience yourself and learned something. You walk away with that wisdom.”