Clutch combined elements of funk, Led Zeppelin, and metal with vocals inspired by Faith No More. Formed in 1991 in Germantown, US, the group included Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums). They built a local following through constant gigging, and after just one 7″ single (the classic Earache release „Passive Restraints“) Clutch was signed by EastWest Records. Their debut LP, „Transnational Speedway League“, followed in 1993. A self-titled album appeared two years later and afforded Clutch some mainstream exposure. Over the years also their commercial scucces was growing nad became well-known to a larger audience.2008 on their own label, Weathermaker Music. The band followed up in 2009 with „Strange Cousins from the West“, before delivering their tenth album, „Earth Rocker“, in 2013. Their concerts are legendary, they deliver their audience a real powerful rock show. Clutch are having a concert on Tuesday 9th of June at Den Atelier and for this occasion their drummer Jean-Paul Gaster was ready to answer some of our questions.
Hello, thanks for taking your time for this interview. Where are you at the moment?
At the moment we are off the road. Tracking for the new album is complete and now we enter the mixing stage. We are very excited.
It’s been two years since “Earth Rocker”. As I’ve read you are working on a new album. How far are you with the recording process?
After mixes we will begin the process of cutting songs and creating a sequence. We recorded 13 songs in total and most likely only 10 will make the album.
How did the creative process change between the last album and the new one?
The creative process is always changing for us. Songs come to the band in many different ways. Mostly we get into a room together and jam though. We try to avoid any type of formula.
During the recording sessions, how much do you record live in a room together?
For this record we cut all the basic tracks together in one room. We were very well rehearsed so the takes sound confident and live. I do not recall ever being so well prepared upon entering the studio.
How do you resolve any creative differences in the band during the recording process?
By the time we hit the studio most all the ideas are developed and we as a band are very much on the same page. Up until that point however songs can change just little or sometimes a lot.
After decades of making music, how do you avoid recycling ideas?
We came to realize on this album that when you have four guys playing the same instruments together for 25 years things are going to sound like other things we’ve played. We do our best to not repeat ourselves but must also acknowledge after having played together for so long we have developed a style and sound whether we like it or not!
Touring has become more important than ever nowadays. Has touring become the main element of becoming better known as a band?
We understood very early on in our career that we were a live band. Playing live is what we do best and the audience expects nothing less from us. In the early days it was one of the few aspects of our career that we could take into our own hands. The label may ignore us but we could still hit the road and earn fans one by one.
Did you ever think to do an acoustic tour? To present your songs in a more intimate atmosphere?
We have included acoustic portions in our live shows. Doing an entire acoustic set would be something new for us.
The American novelist Philip Roth once said that amateurs are waiting for inspiration and professionals sit down work hard. Do you agree?
Inspiration can come regardless of one’s choice to be a professional or part timer. The difference in my mind is that a professional chooses to make the art form his sole source of income. If a professional does not feel inspired he has to look within himself to find the motivation to do a good job. The folks who come to a Clutch show want to see rock and roll played loud and hard regardless of how inspired we feel that night. For that reason I try to play to the best of my ability every single show.
Thank you very much for your time and best wishes for the future!
( Interview by Mike Dostert )