Clutch’s Neil Fallon was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show. Fallon and his band are currently supporting the excellent Sunrise on Slaughter Beach and the frontman took some time to speak about the band’s musical approach while reflecting on their rise within the rock industry.
Fallon says he much prefers the path the band has taken to generating their audience, building it off years of touring rather than relying on trying to pull in fans via a chart-topping single. “I think it’s a lot more rewarding to kind of do it this way,” says the singer.
They also discuss the band’s devoted fanbase, their ability to play on various types of concert bills and more. Check out the full chat below.
So happy to have you back on the show. We’re celebrating the release of this new record Sunrise on Slaughter Beach, and there’s a real literary component to Clutch, Neil, in that the lyrics are like pulp fiction (laughs), in what ways does the music prompt ideas and drive the lyrical storylines?
I’m sure this is the case with most of us, when you listen to new music, there’s sort of that movie that plays in your head. And I’m in the fortunate position that I get to hear the instrumentals and sometimes they evoke ideas immediately, sometimes not. And when that doesn’t happen, I have a notebook of ideas that I run to. Sometimes it’s just one or two lines. And if I knew exactly how it happens, I’d probably rest easier. But there’s always a bit of a struggle.
Clutch songs seemed to develop through the band jamming together. Why is the collaborative process so effective for this band’s creativity, especially in terms of this new album?
I think sometimes you can come in with an idea that you think is awesome, and then you put it out, and everyone puts their spin on it and it becomes something else. To me, that’s more exciting than having an idea and saying it has to be this way. To me, that’s sort of like creative DNA.
This album in particular, we didn’t have the luxury of going out on the road and working these songs. Usually that’s what we do. We play them live as much as possible before recording. But this time, for obvious reasons, we were kind of stuck in our practice spot and then went directly to the studio. So this is probably the most studio generated album Clutch is done in many, many years.
Clutch, “Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone)”
Clutch are a band that can fit on practically any bill with any band. I know this cause I’ve seen you guys on so many different tours over the years. Neil, what makes Clutch so universal?
Well, I’d like to think we’re our own entity and we’ve listened to just about everything under the sun and we were never ever concerned about being labeled one thing or the other. We just wanted to make our music the way that entertained us. And fortunately, that entertained other people along the way. Sometimes we do an extreme metal bill, but even the most diehard metal fans every once in a while need a break from the blast beats, and along comes Clutch to do just that. I dunno, I think variety is a spice of life and I think it’s better to be in a position where you don’t quite fit in, but you can fit in everywhere, if that makes any sense.
The new album finds Clutch making use of vocal accoutrements and different instruments. What motivated you to step outside the box?
Well, I think this one, we were stuck in the studio and we were always reluctant to include things that maybe we couldn’t bring out on the road. And we always opted not to do that. But this time around we’re like if there’s a time to do it, it’s now. So we had two very talented vocalists, Frenchie Davis and Debora Bond, sing on some of the songs.
We have a Theremin on one of the songs that J. Robbins played that I’m gonna try to play live. And it’s much more difficult than you would think to make that thing sound the way it’s supposed to. And Jean-Paul played vibraphone on an introduction to one of the songs. He plays Vibraphone at home, and I think it’s pretty cool that it finally found a home on one of our songs.
Neil, Clutch fans are a community unto themselves. What made you first realize that you were affecting people in a different way than most bands?
Hearing that people met their spouse at our shows (laugh), and then they start bringing their kids to our shows. There’s a certain level of dedication that live music fans have over maybe say the passive listener. Being a live band and kind of living on the stage and on the road, you find the the best of the best and the most dedicated. I think our fans, and there are other bands kind of in a similar situation, they kind of consider this their private social club in a lot of ways. There’s a sense of ownership and maybe exclusivity. Not in the sense they want to exclude people, but it’s that it’s kind of like an under the radar scene and they like to keep it that way. And I get it. And I think that’s a good spot to be in rather than being a band that got its name out by having a No. 1 hit on their first record. I think that can be tragic in a lot of ways. I think it’s a lot more rewarding to kind of do it this way.
Clutch, “We Strive for Excellence”
The new record from Clutch, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach. Pick it up. Neil Fallon with us. Neil, thank you so much. Good luck with this record and can’t wait to see Clutch again. Live.
Well, thanks for having me.
Thanks to Clutch’s Neil Fallon for the interview. Sunrise on Slaughter Beach is out now and you can find them on tour in the U.K. and Europe at these stops. You can stay up to date with all things Clutch via their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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