Clutch frontman Neil Fallon took time out from their recent UK tour dates to answer a few interview questions from ThisIsNotAScene‘s Chris Ball. They talked about the recent album “Earth Rocker,” British influences, radio shows, keeping in touch with fans, and much, much more…
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and welcome back to England. Earth Rocker was released just over a year ago now. Would you agree that it’s been a pretty good twelve months?!
It certainly has. The response has been fantastic and the shows we’ve done since it’s release have been the largest of our careers.
The reaction from the British press and fans has been great – has the album had the same response elsewhere?
Pretty much. The biggest shows of 2013 were in Greece. No one saw that coming.
Was it always your plan to return after you played shows here supporting the album last year or is it as a response to how the album has done and/ or the shows went? A friend of mine was at the last London show and he says it was wild, one of the best atmospheres at a gig he had seen in ages.
I remember that show being pretty bonkers. We started the Earth Rocker tour in January of last year in London. We then went on to play in Europe before the release and right after. So it seems fitting to close out the world tour by doing the same. By the time our summer European festival run ends, we will more or less consider the Earth Rocker World Tour over. We’ll start focusing solely on the next record.
Looking back to when you were making Earth Rocker, did you have any particular inkling it would be an important album for you?
Not really. We knew we were having an easy time writing it and that always seems to be a good bellwether. I find it hard to be objective about our own music. We are so close to it, that by the time the mix comes, it’s difficult to make heads or tails of it.
It is a very strong set of songs, I know you played the whole album on the last UK tour, will you be doing that again?
Probably not in a single set. But we usually get through all the songs every few days or so.
I don’t normally ask this kind of question, but I have the opportunity so… – Can you tell me what Unto The Breach is about – it’s really bugging me?!
Ha! I’m not entirely sure myself. If I had to describe it quickly, I’d say it was my attempt of writing a lost episode of Doctor Who.
Anyway, as I was saying, the album has gone down brilliantly over here and were all glad you’re back but I was wondering if there are any hidden British rock influences in your sound? You’re music is steeped in American culture, not just the rock influences, but hip hop, blues, go-go etc. Are there any British bands that played a role in shaping your sound or any current bands from here that you are impressed with?
Of course. My favorite period of time was when young British kids took American blues and electrified it. At that time, racism was such a crushing force in America that many folks couldn’t acknowledge what cultural riches we had. I mean, Jimi Hendrix had to leave the U.S. just to get taken seriously. All blues and jazz musicians had much wider audiences in the UK and Europe.
So when Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and so many others took these sounds and electrified them and distorted them it was a unstoppable force. It’s a musical conversation that is still going on to this day.
Talking of influences and your general loves in music – Neil, I caught your takeover show on TeamRock radio, it was a real treat, so diverse and somewhat of an education. Any plans to do any more radio shows? Radio Clutch sounds like a good idea to me!
I’m glad you dug it! I have no plans at the moment. But if the opportunity arises, I’ll jump at it.
What’s the state of US radio, are there still decent stations playing alternative music? Does Clutch get any airplay at home? I remember listening to one in LA – KRock (?) which was pretty good years ago.
I don’t listen to too much broadcast rock radio. Most contemporary rock radio sounds like a bunch of auto-tuned hacks on a TV talent show. Not unlike FM static, if you ask me. I do, however, listen quite regularly to WWOZ out of New Orleans. It’s programming is driven by the DJs. At any given hour you can hear: blues, metal, zydeco, jazz, country…you name it. I’ve discovered more cool music from WWOZ than I can list. They have an online app and stream on the web. Check it out.
How do you maintain contact with fans and attract new ones? Is it something you put much thought into or as an established act do you find the press and word of mouth does enough to keep you going? I don’t do Facebook or social networking myself and was wondering whether bands feel they have to know whether they like it or not!
We were pretty late to the social media thing. I understand the importance of it, but it’s just a peripheral thing. All the Facebook likes in the world don’t mean a damn thing if you can’t get on a stage and burn it down.
Are you playing any of the big UK outdoor shows this year? Any favourites?
We’re playing Temples festival here on the 4th, but I don’t know if that’s outdoors or not. Download is a blast, but we are not playing it this year. Hopefully, this time next year will be in support of the next record.
Well anyway, long may you run and I’ll be seeing you at the London show. Thanks for taking out the time to talk to ThisIsNotAScene.
Thanks for the opportunity & see ya there!