Q: Hey JP! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. How is Clutch life at the moment? What is happening with yourself and the band?
A: Of course, that’s no problem. We are off tour at the moment for the next couple of weeks until we come down and see you guys at Download Festival. We have had a busy 28 years. We just started writing for the next album, in fact, we had a good rehearsal today and put some ideas out into the universe, so that’s fun. That was great and I expect we’ll probably record something early next year and then release some new music probably early in the springtime.
Q: Clutch is such a wonderful example of unity and how a common goal and passion for the industry can blossom into a fruitful career. What is the best part of being a part of the band?
A: Being able to play your instrument. Being able to play drums is really my favourite thing to do and being able to play every day is really a gift in itself. To be able to visit folks in Australia and around the world, makes it even better and you know, it’s an amazing job. It is something we do not take for granted.
Q: Since your inception in 1991 - there have been multiple changes to the music industry as a whole. I’d be interested to hear about your thoughts on the development of the industry, and if it has presented any challenges for you personally - or the band as a collective?
A: It has certainly presented challenges along the way. I sort of look at our career in three phases. The first phase was sort of bouncing around the major labels. And at that point, around the early 90’s, we were on several labels including East West, Atlantic, Sony at one point.. and it was really difficult. The labels would be really excited about signing the band because we had a bit of a fan base and once they signed us they realised ‘wow, this is a lot of work’ trying to promote real music. So, there was a lot of frustration in the 90’s.
I think the second phase of our career was building Weathermaker [Music]. At that point, we had been on major labels, we had been on independent labels that wanted to be major labels and everything in between. We started Weathermaker in 2008 and it took about 10 years really, to get the label off the ground to the point where the systems were really in place. Every record we’ve put out since the first record has been a learning experience. We’ve made some mistakes along the way and tried a bunch of different ideas. It wasn’t until maybe, Book Of Bad Decisions - the release came together really smoothly and there was the least amount of hiccups in the process. I think that just came from years of releasing records on our own and at this point, I’m feeling really good about the label. I think that part of the industry headache is sort of behind us now.
I tell young musicians, anything other than releasing music on your own is really delaying the inevitable. The sooner a musician can wrap his head around the idea that we have to practice our instrument as much as we pay attention to the business side, the more successful everyone is going to be. It’s important for artists to understand this right away - the more energy you put into the business on your own, the better off you will be
Q: 12 studio albums is such an incredible feat. Does it still feel exciting to record and play songs from earlier albums? And do you have a favourite song or album?
It’s always exciting! The studio is something we get better and better at each time we get in there. The process of writing the song, and going into the studio and making a document of that song, is so exciting. It’s kind of a sacred process. Once you’ve released it, that's a document of that tune that's going to be here for longer than we are on this Earth. So it’s a special thing to do.
A: As far as favourite singles that we’ve done.. We’ve recently released several singles from a series that we call the Vault Series. These are recordings that we’ve done outside of the album sessions. These might be covers or re-records of old songs.. Those are fun to do. It gives us the shot to get into the studio and not have to think so much about having to record 10-15 songs. It’s just about going in there and having fun with it. This way, we keep our studio chops up and at the same time have fun with it. There’s not a whole lot of pressure when we go and do these things like the Vault Series or other recordings like that. It’s been great and some of these singles have been very well received and we’ve made new fans over the course of this experiment.
Q: Clutch’s last album was called Book Of Bad Decisions - where does the inspiration for the album titles come from?
A: The album titles are always the most difficult part of the process for us believe it or not, and we usually leave it right to the end. This time around was no different. We were finished with the recording, at this point, we were sequencing the record and we needed to settle on the name. We had several other ideas but Book Of Bad Decisions sort of made sense. It kind of gave the album this feeling of having a book with different chapters in it. And I don't think each song is a bad decision (hopefully!) We’ve all made decisions that are maybe not the best ones we’ve ever made, some are worse than others, i suppose. But it kind of encapsulated the record a little bit and sort of set a tone for the record a little bit too.
Many times, when artists put records together there is not really an overall theme to the songs, but if you think of a title that can encapsulate the entire process, the entire idea, it works out well. I think many times the listener and us, as musicians as well - we start to connect some dots and that's something that happens after the fact. It’s unintentional but often times, I think those are the most meaningful contributions to the record.
Q: You are headed to Australia very soon and fans (and organisers alike) are very excited for your return down under. Do you have any surprises in store for the Download Festival?
A: We change the set list up every night. As far as what we’re going to play, I don’t know at this stage. We’ve been playing a lot of Blast Tyrant material over the last few shows. We actually played that record in its entirety on New Years Eve and that was a lot of fun. So I will expect some of those tracks that we haven’t played in some time and probably some of these Vault Singles that we have been playing out as well.