Musicscan: First of all: What have you guys lately been up to?
Clutch: We just finished a short US tour last week, so these days are spent enjoying time at home. We are preparing to go into J Robbins studio next week to record an e.p.. It will consist of some more low key acoustic tunes.
Musicscan: Clutch’ sound is pretty unique for everyone who ever got in contact with you guys. What would you point out to be bands “trademarks”, and what makes the difference out of your view?
Clutch: It's hard to talk about the band's sound since I'm so involved in it, but I suppose we are a pretty percussive band, even outside of drums. Our riffs are informed by a lot of classic rock bands and I think we are attracted to that time period ('65-'75) because that is when rock bands really accepted acoustic blues into the electric rock context. There was a pretty cool musical conversation happening between continents for the first time. I'd like to think that we are reminiscent of that. Maybe even participants.
Musicscan: What are the motives behind writing in this heavy style Clutch is best known for, and what reactions are you seeking to evoke in your audience?
Clutch: Music is art. And I don't think we have any other motive other than music for music's sake, art for art's sake. At shows, we like to see people smiling, forgetting about everything other than the music that is happening right then and there. I think any other motives (i.e. "pushing envelopes" or "redefining extreme genes") are contrived and self-defeating.
Musicscan: Clutch have always been a heavy and straightforward band, never sticking to any formulas. Listening to your songs and albums for several years now, I would say you focus most on the natural groove and flow of your songs and bring it together with a confident old school heavy approach. Would you agree to this description?
Clutch: Sounds good to me! We do try to experiment with different grooves, but at the end of the day it's the same 4 guys, so the end product will sound familiar.
Musicscan: Do you still remember when you wrote your first song with Clutch and what it felt like and how it feels like now when you finish a song? How has your relationship to music and the band changed over the years?
Clutch: It was 1991. The first song I think was "Wicker." It's pretty amazing how little has changed about our song writing process. We still get together in the basement, play riffs until something sounds somewhat like a song and then I take it home to write lyrics. The lyric writing process takes the longest, but I think by this point the guys aren't expecting me to suddenly change my ways.
If there is any change I think we're all better players and we all have a better appreciation for music in its entirety. It's both exhilarating and humbling.
Musicscan: With this new wave of insane and technical grind/tech-metal-bands with influences ranging from progressive to jazz aren't you scared that it has become harder for Clutch to find its listeners? Kids do listen to a different kind of metal nowadays. What have been the experiences you’ve made with younger audiences on your last few tours?
Clutch: Kids are always listening to a different kind of anything. That's just the way it goes. The minute one starts to tailor his music to "keep up" is the minute he is no longer a musician, but a marketing hack. Trends come. Trends go. But rock and roll is forever.
Musicscan: This whole underground-metal-thing turned more and more professional over the past few years. What do you think about it? Is the extreme-underground loosing its basis, identity and sincerity?
Clutch: It's become a lot easier for "extreme" bands to find larger audiences because of the advent of the internet. Because of this, extreme musics are not as special and threatening. Hell, I hear grind beats in the background of car commercials these days. But then again, maybe nothing has changed other than the sheer number of bands and listeners. As any type of music become more popular, the more flooded it becomes with supply and demand, bands and fans. Imitators and band-wagoneers are always bland and derivative. The information age has its downsides.
Musicscan: What lessons have you learned from being involved with the heavy-underground for a longer time now? What has it done for you?
Clutch: I've learned that some of the most infernal and diabolical people in the world wear business suits while some of the most righteous and civil people in the world wear Venom shirts. Go figure.
Musicscan: Is there something that bores you about todays heavy-underground-scene, or maybe there is something you miss?
Clutch: I miss how difficult it was to find new music. I remember the one or two record shops that carried underground music. That was a weekend trip and the record buying process seemed a serious decision. Walking into the shop that carried Celtic Frost records or Minor Threat records seemed an initiation an into some type of cabal. Nowadays it's just as easy as sitting in a living room and hitting a few keys. Don't get me wrong, bands like Clutch benefit from that accessibility, but I do have some nostalgia for how under the radar that music was in the 80s.
Musicscan: Are there any principles you would never give up to with Clutch? Which?
Clutch: The day it stops being fun is the day it should end.
Musicscan: What makes Clutch special to you? How would you describe the essence of the band?
Clutch: It's special because we're doing the same thing we did when we were 19. We are still brothers and friends and we still make music for the sake of making music. Every year I appreciate that more and more as it is a very fragile thing that could have ended years ago for any number of reasons.