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Stereoboard Chat To Clutch About Their Brand New Record ‘Earth Rocker’ (Interview)

Friday, 22 February 2013 Written by Chloe Scannapieco

After the epic celebrations swirling around New Year’s Eve, the month of January that follows it is often a rather bleak affair. Most are financially hindered by the expense of Christmas, desperately fighting to keep New Year’s resolutions alive, whilst simultaneously battling the barbaric ice-age encompassing our very atmosphere here in the UK.

ImageLuckily for some of us, this January there was a silver-lining. Clutch. One of the music industries most well-respected and creatively innovative bands decided to fly over to Europe with a brand new record in tow, ‘Earth Rocker’, not only to show-off their latest workings, but also to provide a large dose of aural medicine and a constantly reassuring presence in our time of need...

You’re kicking off a European tour with your brand new album, ‘Earth Rocker’ and you Tim are quoted in the press release saying, “It might be the best Clutch album that’s ever existed”.
Tim: I said that?
That’s what you said.
Tim: Oh God!

So, quite a bold, confident statement there. Why do you think that this is the best Clutch album that’s ever existed?
Tim: I think definitely from a fans perspective, it’s gonna be a good album. A lot of our fans expect the kind of riffs-in-your-face kinda thing that we’ve delivered. I’ll stand by that fact; it’s definitely the best Clutch album that we’ve delivered so far. I think it showcases the heavier side of song-writing for sure.

When did you actually start creating the album?
Tim: I think we probably started creating it right after our last one was recorded. When we’re off and we have time off, we always get together and jam and just throw out new musical ideas and then forget about them for a long time and then come back to them and see if there’s anything we can use.

Do you guys write when you’re on the road?
Tim: We really don’t do that very well. We’ve tried to in the past but it always just ends up not working out very well.

Does the band have much down time in between shows and press days? Do you have a little jam when you’ve got time to kill on tour?
Tim: The only time something like could really happen, I guess, would be during sound-check. We’ve never really done very well getting together in hotel rooms and trying to come up with something. It just kinda feels very forced.
So, literally as soon as the last album cycle was done, you started on this one?
Tim: Pretty much, yeah.

Is writing always an organic process for Clutch?
Tim: It always just kinda seems to happen to tell you the truth. There’s a lot of is us having to self-edit a lot of stuff because of those eleven songs that are on the album, we probably potentially could have written thirty other songs as well. Mostly for us it’s just a long process of deciding what we actually do want to use and what we want to throw away. We probably throw away about 90% of our song ideas.

Wow. Do you ever carry those over to the next recording session?
Tim: Sometimes. I mean sometimes we’ll beat a song to death for days or months or even years. There’s a couple on this new album that we’ve played around with for a long, long time. At least arrangement-wise.

Does Neil (Fallon) write all of the lyrics?
Tim: Yes, Neil writes all the lyrics. Which is great for me!
You’re not a big lyric writer yourself?
Tim: If I had to write the lyrics, they wouldn’t be very good!
Does this album have a concept or any themes to it that you know of?
Tim: Lyrically, I don’t think it necessarily has one unifying theme. Although I could be wrong.

Tell me about the recording process, where did you record this? And did you do anything differently that you haven’t done before?
Tim: I wouldn’t say we did anything too much differently. We definitely pre-produced a lot more than we usually do. We got together and specifically made sure that these were the songs that were definitely going on the album, these are definitely the arrangements that they’re gonna be, we’re not going to change them and that’s it - we’re done. A lot of times that we go into the studio, sometimes we have more loose ideas. But this time we were able to focus the song writing in to a few. Fourteen songs is what we recorded originally and we whittled it down to eleven.

Who produced the album?
Tim: We recorded with this producer who goes by the name, Machine. He also did our ‘Blast Tyrant’ album as well.
So you must have a good relationship with him?
Tim: Oh yeah, yeah. He’s real, real easy to work with.
What does he bring to the table?
Tim: He definitely has a lot of strong ideas as far as what we should keep and what we should throw away. If we’re left on our own, we’ll probably just end up stopping playing all of the songs and just write new songs. He definitely helps us focus a little bit more and production-wise he has a very in-your-face production style which I think fits the songs that we’ve written for the new album.

Now, let’s talk about the band. So how long has Clutch been going for? Since...
Tim: 91.

And how many member changes have there been in that time?
Tim: During, I guess it was 2004-2010 we had a keyboard player for a while and that would be the only member change. We briefly had a keyboardist and other than that it’s been the four of us for the whole time.

You guys spent a lot of time together, often in trying situations where you’re travelling through foreign countries and are often sleep-deprived; it’s difficult for any band to work under those circumstances, but to still be together after twenty-two years through all that is almost unheard of. What do you think keeps you guys together?
You know I get that question a lot.

You’re in a really unique situation, because it’s rare for a band who have been together as long as you have to still have its original members, there’s usually been at least a few changes.
Tim: Yeah and especially after twenty years of not even being a big band. We’re just kind of an underground band. The way I look at it is that we enjoy doing it - we enjoy writing music and maybe we’re completely delusional, but we think our music is getting better. We feel we move forward artistically, we’ve added more elements to the band. We’ve done a lot of acoustic stuff. Our music doesn’t seem one-dimensional, like we’re trying to write the same song over and over and over again, that each song kind of has a life of its own and if it feels like something that is completely redundant or something we’ve done before, we’ll just stop playing it. Also, I think that the fact that Clutch’s been a constantly growing entity; our shows get slightly bigger and better each time we come to a city. So over the twenty year period there’s never been like a huge set-back where we went on tour and there were thousands of people at the shows and the next tour there was no-one at the shows. We’ve never experienced anything like that and I think we probably reached that point several years ago where we were just too old to get real jobs, so now I guess people are kinda stuck with us.

You’ve got your own identity, you’ve got a very individual sound and as you’ve said, you’ve grown a lot artistically over the years; but do you ever feel any competition within the industry?
Tim: Competition with other bands?
Tim: No. I want all other bands to be huge and sell lots of records and love going on tour and love their lives.

Do you love going on tour?
Tim: Yeah, it’s great. I do love it.

You’ve said you’re an underground band, you feel like a small band – what’s it like selling out a very decent venue in London like Koko?
Tim: It’s a constantly growing thing. This is the first time we’ve ever come over to Europe and we have a show in France that’s sold-out already. We’ve struggled for so many years to have anyone come see us in France. I think the last time we had a headlining show there, there were eighty people there and now it’s sold-out and for the first time we’re going to Germany.

You’ve not been to Germany before?
Tim: Oh no, we’ve been there tons of times. But always playing small shows. Three hundred people, it’s awesome, we love it, don’t get me wrong – three hundred people is an absolutely amazing amount of people to come to a show, but now the shows are selling out beforehand.

Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s because the quality of the music you’re releasing has increased?
Tim: I’m not 100% sure really what it is, but at the end of 2011 we did a tour of Europe opening for Volbeat and of all the bands we’ve ever toured with that was the biggest tour we’ve ever done; venue-wise and show-size-wise. So maybe that paid off a little bit.

Clutch release new album 'Earth Rocker' on Monday 18th March 2013. Having performed live in the UK last month, Clutch are on tour across the US next month. Click Here to Compare & Buy Clutch Tickets.

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