Sound studio

Clutch: In Search of Excellence – Distorted Sound Magazine

Jean-Paul Gaster been doing its thing for a while now – 31 years in fact. During these three decades, he and his CLUTCH the bandmates charted a steady path to legendary status, maintaining the same basic line-up with no real breaks or interruptions while delivering great records at every turn. It’s no surprise, then, that as he joins us via Zoom from a tour bus in Oslo, he speaks with the kind of cool, calm clarity of a man who knows exactly who he is and what he’s supposed to do. of his life. It’s also no surprise that the record we’re here to talk about – Sunrise on Slaughter Beach – is another killer version of a group for whom such questions have become completely normal.

“We’ve always been pretty good at letting things happen in a very organic way,” suggests gaster on the process of creating album number 13. “Rarely do we have a meeting to find out what the new record should look like or what the production should be like, or even the writing of the songs. It happens very naturally. We just get together and play and the stuff that sticks, the stuff that Neil [Fallon, vocals] is the most excited about putting in lyrics or riffs that really float up – those are the ones that kind of end up being the building blocks of the record. And it’s hard to predict what they will be.

“This particular record, I think, was more experimental in the studio,” he adds. “I think it had to do with the fact that we weren’t able to play those songs live. A lot of the songs took shape in the studio and when I was recording the drum tracks, for example, I didn’t know exactly where the song was going to go or what direction was going to be until we started adding the other layers and getting more vocals there so I think in that regard maybe it’s a record more experimental than what we have been doing for some time.

He is right of course; whether it’s a theremin, vibraphone, or female backing vocals that elevate the album’s central climax Mercy Brown, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach is the sound of a band refusing to ride when they could be forgiven, even rewarded, for doing so. It’s always absolutely CLUTCH however – riffy bangers like Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone), Slaughter Beach and Nosferatu Madre everyone sees to it, as indeed fall onBadass’ unequivocal, effortless lyrics and delivery.

Of course, this desire to push yourself is something that comes quite naturally to CLUTCH at this point, with gaster explaining, “We do our best not to repeat ourselves and we listen to a lot of music, so there are always new inspirations to draw from. And I think we enjoy the challenge too. We don’t want to be the kind of band that gets up and plays the same setlist every night and makes the same record every two or three years. I think keeping us engaged helps keep the fans engaged and it makes the experience more musical, I think.

There is no doubt that it is exactly this state of mind that has earned CLUTCH the adoration of so many, whether they entered it via the raucous, informed punk roots of their early days, the increasingly hypnotic stoner rock fare that followed, or through the hard, juggernaut rocking they deliver so well today. gaster is happy to point out that all of this is still there, from the early influences of the band as THE MELVINS and THE LIZARD OF JESUS. “I think those influences still shine through today,” he suggests. “And I think that goes for most musicians; it’s those first things you hear, those first records that really touch you, maybe the first shows you saw, those are experiences and life lessons that you never really forget and that really mark your DNA .

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about all of this is something we’ve already mentioned: they did it all with the same basic line-up – gaster, fall onguitarist Tim Sul and bassist Dan Maine. It’s a rare feat indeed, and one that gaster is well aware of it. “The kind of chemistry we’re lucky to have only comes from 31 years of doing it on stage over and over and over and over again,” he says. “It really becomes kind of second nature to us. There’s a lot of communication going on on stage, but we don’t actually talk. We’ve been together long enough to know ‘I know where this guy’s gonna go… ‘It’s really a team up there and there’s so much going on that’s just unconscious.

As for what keeps them coming back, gaster have no trouble answering that one. “It’s the music. When we started the band, we had no intention of making a career out of it. The other bands that were there at the time that were popular – the ones that were on the radio or the ones that were on MTV – for the most part, we thought they were a little cheesy. We didn’t like that kind of music. We didn’t like the fact that a lot of these bands had to put the image to the music. And so we just said ‘let’s get together and play some gigs, the best we can play…let’s write and do the best songs we can do‘ and that was really the beginning and the end.

“We were able to get by with this stuff for 31 years and now it’s a career, but when we started it was just for the music,” he continues. “I think that’s what kept us together all these years because even when times were tough, even when we were bouncing around from label to label, or even when we were locked down during the pandemic, we knew that the only thing we could do is make music because at the end of the day, that’s our motto.

As we come to a conclusion, we return to a theme that came up repeatedly throughout our conversation, namely gaster and company refuse to deliver less than their best, night after night. That’s how they built their legacy, and that’s exactly how they’re going to maintain it.

“I feel this pressure every night,” says gaster. “I’m going to finish with you here today and then I’m going to go inside and I’m going to practice and I’m going to practice all day with the intention of putting on a better show than I did. last night. I’m enjoying this process. I enjoy trying to become a better drummer and a better band member. There’s a level of pressure there but I think it’s necessary and I think the fans in have come to expect that from us too.They expect excellence and we do our best to provide that excellence.

Sunrise On Slaughter Beach is available now through Weathermaker Music.

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