Neil Fallon insists, “We never said we were a stoner rock band.”
DC-based Clutch has transcended label with their fusion of Billy Gibbons-style riffs and pulse-pounding Deep Purple rhythms enough to make any Government Mule fan freak out. Clutch also harnesses the power of bands like Monster Magnet and Masters of Reality to keep the Kyuss fans smoking the sticky shit.
Although an advocate of the legalization of Marijuana, Fallon doesn’t partake. “I used to smoke a lot of pot when I was younger. I quit because it didn’t fit my personality type.” But Fallon’s support for legalization is more anti- government, punk rock ethos, than it is for the love of burning down.
Growing up in the ‘burbs during the Reagan and Bush eras listening to “Bad Brains, Minor Threat and Discharge” according to Fallon, created an army of anarchists. “For government to dictate to me that I’m not responsible enough as an adult to possess a controlled substance like marijuana is ridiculous. It doesn’t sit well with me. It pisses me off.”
Good friend Bob Balch of Fu Manchu praised Clutch’s musicianship and how envious other bands are of their decades of “memorable riffs” in Clutch’s new live DVD on Weathermaker (Clutch’s own label) recorded at the 930 CLUB. And If you caught their amazing set at Bonnaroo (within minutes of Margaret Cho blowing Oderus of GWAR on stage – whom they share managers and agents) –
Go here for a seven minute video clip of Clutch at Bonnaroo 2010 here:
or IF YOU were fortunate enough to see them in Europe this summer you know CLUTCH brings it, in spades.
In 2009, Clutch released their first on Weathermaker, Strange Cousins from the West further illustrating Clutch’s organic progress. This year and into next, they’ll be heating up the road supporting the re-release of From Beale Street to Oblivion, possibly their best work, noting their transition to straight up rock music.
The two-disc set features an additional live disc with tracks recorded from the BBC. Originally recorded on the now defunct DRT label – when asked what happened to DRT, according to Fallon, “DRT stopped paying Bands.” Clutch forced the label’s hand through legal wrangling, and lassoed their rights back after soured dealings, which caused Beale Street’s temporary removal from record shelves in 2008.
“It’s so much easier to handle it yourself these days,” Neil adds. “It makes no sense to me for punk rock bands to sign these 360 deals these days with the 1982 business model.”
The Clutch line up has never wavered since the band’s inception: Tim Sult on guitar, Dan Maines on bass, the incomparable J.P. Gaster on drums, and Fallon on vocals (with additional musicians Mick Schauer on Hammond B-3, and Eric Oblander on harmonica) and has developed a reputation as a “musician’s band.”
But you may raise the question, how do you account for Clutch having released nine studio recordings and played for decades with only marginal success until now? Well, you can thank an army of groove-metal heads, incessant touring, and LEFT 4 DEAD 2. Remember the commercial earlier this year? “Bang, bang, bang, bang! Vominos! Vominos!” Yep. That’s Clutch.
When asked if the popularity of the zombie-killing video game (featuring their song “Electric Worry” also on Beale Street) had anything to do with their resurrection, Neil responded, “It certainly didn’t hurt any. It was part of the equation I think. But touring has kept the band alive.”
“We’ll never sell a gold record. We never wanted to be most likely to succeed. And it took us a while to figure out that a lot of kids get their music from video games. They’re not getting it from a 7” at the local punk rock store. That’s been dead for decades. But it’s almost an embarrassment of riches.”
Clutch’s lyrics possess a certain damning reverence in songs like “The Devil and Me”. Neil’s demon-seed street preacher persona on stage is authentic. But when asked if he’s a shy man, he doesn’t totally disagree. “I’m not so much shy, I just keep to my own business. I’m not an extroverted person. But onstage I don’t get into some kind of Ziggy Stardust-mode. But because I get to do that every night – I get to scream and holler and make loud music, it is it’s own form of therapy. When it’s all said and done, I don’t feel like screaming and yelling anymore.”
On a personal level, Neil seems content with his life. He’s renovating a house, and is happy at home. But he exclaims, “You gotta watch the contractors every second.” And when I inquired about Neil’s new son, you could hear the warmth and pride in his voice as he responded. “It’s a wonderful thing being a dad. I can’t believe it’s real. I think I’m gonna nickname him, ‘The Time Bandit’.”
You can’t stop progress.
Michael G. Plumides, Jr. is author of KILL THE MUSIC available on Amazon.com, a writer for the lauded BLURT MAGAZINE, and also a screenwriter and director, going to production on his TV pilot GHOST TREK: THE KINSEY REPORT shooting this December and a GHOST TREK feature filming in 2011.