Twenty years on, Clutch still going strong

Clutch (L-R: Tim Sult, Neil Fallon, Jean-Paul Gaster, Dan Maines) returns to The V Club Friday night

Reposted from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Over the course of the last twenty years, a sea of bands have come and gone, from the good to the great. Some have burned out, some faded away.

Only a select few can say that they’ve been able to make a day job out of it, are at the top of their rock game, and still happy to be making music.

Clutch is one of those bands that have not only persevered, but, after starting in 1990, the Germantown, Maryland-based band has made and kept diehard fans with their own version of blues-infused stoner rock, releasing as many records (nine) as they’ve had labels, all the while keeping its original lineup intact.

To help celebrate their fans, the band (Neil Fallon: vocals; Tim Sult: guitar; Dan Maines: bass; Jean-Paul Gaster: drums) recently released “Live At The 9:30,” a two-disc DVD containing Clutch playing their self-titled 1995 record at their iconic hometown venue in Washington, D.C. Included also is the documentary “Fortune Tellers Make A Killing Nowadays,” with Clutch footage from back in the day.

Guitarist Tim Sult explained over the phone how special the 9:30 Club is to the band.

“Back when we started, we really just wanted to play local shows around the D.C. and Baltimore area. So, for us to get to play places like d.c. space, which is on the DVD, and to get to play places like the 9:30 Club were really the only reason we started the band in the first place.”

“It really was specifically chosen. You know, that’s our hometown club.” Clutch was scheduled to play the 9:30 Club’s 30th birthday party Monday, with Henry Rollins hosting.

Sult recalled the early days of Clutch, and how cool it is to see the old tour footage.

“Lots of driving. We did lots and lots and lots of driving back then. The early tours were, you know, a learning experience. We did a lot of growing up on the early tours, that’s for sure. Early on in touring, the main problem is you have to go out on tour for years and years and not make any money, you know?”

“But there’s never been a documentary style video of the band. So, that’s something that we wanted to capture, not for ourselves, but it’s what people want to see.”

Seeing fans and members of bands like System of a Down and Fu Manchu praise Clutch in the DVD was pretty awesome, Sult said.

“It’s the greatest thing ever. Just hearing other bands perspectives, and the fans perspectives on the band. You can do interviews all day long, and you can read interviews with members of Clutch, but I think it’s just more fun to hear their perspectives.”

Another promising development for Clutch has been the formation of their own label, Weathermaker Music, which now releases music from Clutch and its instrumental side project and second face, The Bakerton Group.

As mentioned earlier, the band hasn’t had good luck finding a label.

“We’re really happy,” Sult said. “It seems to be working out for the better, that’s for sure. Of course, we don’t run it ourselves, we’ve hired someone to do it,” he said, referring to former Atlantic and Columbia executive Jon Nardachone.

Sult said the business end of dealing with labels wasn’t the only problem, there was the whole making music thing.

“We’ve always been lucky enough to have total creative control on labels we’ve been on in the past. Labels have wanted, like, radio songs, which is a song in a proper arrangement, from us. But, we do that naturally. So, I don’t know what major labels were thinking when they signed us back in the day.”

As Clutch prepares to go on tour with The Bakerton Group and another band Sult plays in, the Silver Spring, Maryland-based reggae-tinged stoner rock outfit Lionize in tow, Sult said he’s ready to play three straight sets, no worries.

“Honestly, the more I play, it’s actually easier. Like, Lionize is a good warm-up for The Bakerton Group set, and that’s a good warm-up for the Clutch set. So, by the time the Clutch set comes around, we’re feeling really good.”

In addition to the new DVD and tour, Sult said Clutch fans can look forward to re-released versions of the three records released on DRT, and the follow-up to last year’s “Strange Cousins From The West,” sometime in mid-2011.

“We’re working on new material right now. I mean, I’m actually at our drummer’s house, and we’re working on new stuff.”

Clutch fans should definitely be looking forward to catching The Bakerton Group and Clutch at the upcoming Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival June 10-13 in Manchester, Tennessee, Sult said.

“That’s going to be awesome. We’re doing the Bakerton Group set, then we’re doing the Clutch set, as well as a half-hour Clutch acoustic set. That’ll be something new for ‘em.”

And Sult said Clutch was looking forward to kicking off the tour Friday at the V Club in Huntington.

“Oh, the West Virginia shows have always been great. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad show in West Virginia since we started playing there. It’s always good to come back. The people definitely party pretty hard down there. If we have a show on Friday or Saturday night, it’s always chaos.

Summing everything up, Sult said Clutch, after all these years, is in as good a position as it’s ever been, and they’re nowhere near being finished.

“I think the future for us looks better than it ever has. I’m definitely proud, and surprised. I didn’t think Clutch would last this long, but I’m sure glad it did. We’re in it too deep, we can’t give up yet.”

Related: H-D article on the Boston-based stoner rock outfit Never Got Caught

1 comment:

larryosaurus said...

love to see these guys live!
neil fallon + taliban beard = representin'