By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY — Two years after the release of 2013’s Earth Rocker, Maryland’s Clutch is gearing up for yet another album, which will be number 11 in the 24-year-old group’s history. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster shed some insight on the Earth Rocker tour and how it’s set the band up for its latest work.
“With Earth Rocker, that was one of the first records that we able to play from front to back. There were always some songs on our other albums that either didn’t lend themselves to the live situation, or maybe just didn’t play well live,” he explains.
“So with Earth Rocker, we definitely made an effort to be sure that all the songs were ones that we could play in their entirety and be able to stand on their own, almost like its own set list.”
Clutch is notorious for their staggering touring schedules and recently has been no exception. Gaster was unable to disclose the exact release date or title of the new record, but said that they had finished tracking and were in the mixing process and they are looking to release it early this fall.
“On the newest album, the one we’re mixing right now, we played a lot of songs in the live setting and we also rehearsed those songs a tremendous amount, probably more than we ever have prior to going into the studio,” says Gaster. “I just think we’ve been playing a lot more than we did in the early days.”
The group’s newest, along with Earth Rocker, was recorded with producer Machine (King Crimson, Lamb of God) at his new studio in Austin, Texas and marked the first time the band has ever worked with the same producer on two albums back-to-back.
The new unnamed record will build off the fast rocking, shuffle feel of many of the tunes on Earth Rocker, but with added precision and energy garnered from the relentless touring and practicing of the new material. With a highly diverse discography that is nevertheless chronologically consistent, some albums lean towards the raw hardcore or metal side of the spectrum while others incorporate funk-based grooves and blues-rock. The latter has dominated their sound in recent years, as Blast Tyrant (2004) and onwards has seen Clutch settling into a socio-politically motivated rock ‘n’ roll approach.
Like Strange Cousins From the West (2009) and Earth…, the newest will be released via their own imprint, Weathermaker Music. Following years of turmoil with record companies (turmoil which has been well documented), Clutch created the label in 2008.
“It’s definitely affected the band in that we have a tremendous amount of freedom now,” says Gaster.
“I think the first eight years of being in this band was very difficult. It was pretty much a constant fight with whatever label we happened to be signed to at the time, and that holds true for major labels and independent labels, they were always a source of great frustration for us.”
Owning their label has allowed Clutch to attain greater focus on writing music, rather than worrying about the legalities and politics. After all, the band has gained a legion of nearly fanatical fans that use the number of times they’ve seen them as bragging rights for a reason.
“There’s one thing that’s even more important than all that stuff, and that is actually getting out there and playing,” he confirms.
“And that’s one thing that we understood early on as a band, that’s one thing you can control.”
See Clutch with Mastodon and Big Business in Edmonton on April 19 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre, on Tuesday, April 21 at MacEwan Hall in Calgary, or at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on April 23 and April 24.AB, Alberta, Clutch, Commodore Ballroom, Edmonton EXPO Centre, MacEwan Hall