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Interview with Clutch
Rock's Best Kept Secret
By John Solomon, St@tic
(more articles from this author)
2001-09-25
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The room was full. Anxious feet stepped side to side. Sweat filled the air like a hot mist, making all the tattoos shiny and clean. All minds are focused, all eyes fixed. Before another breath, mid sentence, the curtain drops and the lights come on. The moments of anticipation are forgotten and replaced with adrenaline.

Four figures instantaneously come alive and explode into a song. Lead singer Neil Fallon immediately holds court, leading the audience like a new age prophet. Not an inch of stage is left unexplored. Musically, every member is top notch.

It would be easy to think that this was a band touring in support of a multi platinum selling record, playing a sold out stadium show. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In a music market dominated by "smoke and mirrors" and marketing scams, Clutch is nothing less than a survivalist.

It was very exciting to sit down with someone whose work you really admire. It is even a more pleasant surprise to discover how down-to-earth and easily likeable that person becomes. Such is the case with Jean Paul Gaster, drummer extraordinaire for Clutch.

[John Solomon] How long have you been touring?

Jean Paul Gaster We've been touring for the new record since November. We did some shows with COC until around Cristmas and took about ten days off for that. Did another 6 or 7 weeks with COC with a little bit of time off in there and have not really taken very many days off since.

[John Solomon] You have had the chance to play with a lot of really cool bands. Do you have any say in what bands you play with when you are on the road?

Jean Paul Gaster Generally if you are going to headline a tour, it is up to you what bands you bring, and management and booking of course. We want to take all of out friends on tour obviously, but at the same time you have to bring some people that are going to bring some new faces in the crowd. You always want to expand your fan base, so we do a combination of bringing our friends who want the gigs and bands like VOD. We have never played with VOD before and they defiantely brought their fans and that's cool and exactly what we want.

[John Solomon] What kind of a response have you been getting off the new album since tour started?

Jean Paul Gaster Excellent. This was a record that we sort of put together with the goal being to sort of hit em hard. We wanted this to be a really heavy straight forward type of record. There are defiantely some jams and some funked out things, but for the most part we just wanted to hit them hard and I think people really liked it.

[John Solomon] Have you had any radio support on this album?

Jean Paul Gaster We have and we have been very lucky to have had it. The first single to be played was Pure Rock Fury and that did surprisingly well for what it was. That's a fast, very heavy song drastically different than anything that is on the radio. And the next one is Drop That Mic and it is doing very well.

[John Solomon] Did you do anything different this time out compared to the other records?

Jean Paul Gaster We did things quite similar recording with Uncle Punchy, but concentrated on making the sound thicker and denser I think. We made a conscious effort to make the tones thick and beefy. We like to experiment on each record with tones and what not and let that record stand alone and be it's own record.

[John Solomon] What are your thoughts on music and the internet?

Jean Paul Gaster As a musician, I think it is irrelevant to me. It exists and it is out there and no matter what I try and do about it, it will always be there. I don't mind kids trading tapes, that's totally cool. Videos are cool too. They only add to the live show. A kid might show that to some of their friends and they might think that we are cool and might come out and see us next time.

The reality is that an artist has to have a record go gold, before they are even going to see a dime. Bands put out 3 or 4 records on a label and never see a dime from record sales. So, it is not like people who are downloading would be putting a dollar in my pocket if they would have bought the record. The industry is set up so that the record company will immediately get paid from record sales. So...download all you want!!!

I think that the internet has changed the record industry and will continue to do so. The record labels will find some way to make money. I think that the artists main concern is to concentrate on their live performance and be the best artist that they can.


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