Clutch brings rock 'n' roll with
a side of the blues to Utah
Clutch photo courtesy of the band.
By Shannon Gibbs
Neil Fallon -- Singer, Guitar
Tim Sult -- Guitar
Dan Maines -- Bass Guitar
Jean-Paul Gaster -- Drums
Mick Schauer -- Organist
May 24, 2007 -- Hard News Cafe (HNC)- What do you
feel the essence of your new album From Beale Street
to Oblivion is?
Neil Fallon (lead singer, guitar) -- I suppose the
record was kind of a reaction to the previous one. Robot
Hive/Exodus was maybe a bit more quirky in some
regards, and we reacted by writing a much more stripped-down,
efficient, traditional rock 'n' roll record. It's kind
of hard for me to talk about it -- maybe cause I'm so
close to it, ya know.
HNC -- Beale Street, being the heart of the blues,
I was wondering if it had a specific meaning for you?
Neil -- Well not personally. We have played there
a number of times. Actually we will be playing there
sometime this year as well. I think though that more
then anything else, the older I get the more I appreciate
the longer history and lineage of rock and roll. As
opposed to like, you know, what's hot and happenin'
now. But as far as in the context in the song, though
-- it was kind of drawing an analogy of, instead of
having to go to purgatory, having to go to Beale Street.
Not that I think it's hellish but its like the French
Quarter or one of those places where sometimes people
start a weekend and then the weekend lasts for the rest
of there life.
HNC -- I was wondering, you sing and play guitar and
harmonica. What prompted you to learn to play the harmonica?
Neill -- Um, I think you're mistaken. The harmonica
on the record is actually preformed by Eric Oblander,
who is in a band called Five Horse Johnson.
HNC -- Oh, I didn't realize that.
Neil -- I did play once ages ago on a EP thing but
ya know, I'm really not that good at it to be honest.
HNC -- How do you feel about From Beale Street
to Oblivion as a whole? Do you think its one of
your best albums?
Neil -- I mean, comparing it to other ones is kind
of like asking a father to pick his favorite child.
But, of course any musician is going to say their most
recent record is their best one, (laughs). I'm thinking
I'm probably no exception, but I think that truth be
told, this one does a pretty good job capturing the
band's honestly on tape because it's really not that
much different then the studio takes and what we do
on stage, whereas this one is very stripped down in
HNC -- It does seem like there is a lot of heart and
soul in From Beale Street to Oblivion.
Neil -- Well, thank you. We went out on the road for
a couple weeks and already had the entire record written
so we performed it for three weeks. So when we rolled
into the studio we knew it really well and we didn't
have to worry about remembering the songs. We got to
play the performances as passionately as we could.
HNC -- Who has influenced you as far as the blues
are concerned, because it seems your music is getting
progressively more bluesy?
Neil -- Uh, well, I think a lot of the classic rock
bands, you know like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep
Purple, they were all very much influenced directly
by the blues guys that we look towards, like Howlin'
Wolf, Muddy Waters. . . . Those are the big ones for
HNC -- What about outside of music, did you have any
influences, like writers or artists or other genres?
Neil -- I think I try to draw inspiration from things
that I read. I'm kind of a science fiction geek, I don't
have any Spock ears (chuckles), but that's pretty much
what I do with my free time outside of music.
HNC -- What did you think of your show Monday night
in Salt Lake City?
Neil -- It was good, there were a lot of people there,
I think a thousand people, which is probably our biggest
Salt Lake show to date. The stage was very difficult
to play on -- it was kind of a concrete slab, but other
then that it looked like everybody had a good time.
HNC -- So the energy was good?
Neil -- Sometimes it's tough to play venues where
the crowd is like 12 feet away from the audience, but
keeping that in mind I think it was pretty good.
HNC -- What would you do if you couldn't do music?
Neil -- That's kind of a frightening thought, I don't
know. . . . I've always tried to think about writing
but that's really difficult, there haven't been any
prospects. I don't know. I would probably work at a
Pizza Hut or something.
HNC -- Do you have one moment in your life that you
feel like was pure fate and just meant to be?
Neil -- Probably the only correct answer for that
is the day I met my wife.
HNC -- Do you have any regrets throughout your life?
Neil -- Oh sure, I mean there are always regrets,
but instead of doting on them, it's important to use
them as learning experiences. Life would be pretty boring
if it were lived perfectly and sometimes the only way
you can learn is by negative example. But I think that
is probably the same with everybody.
HNC -- Is there a message you want to send out to
new fans? Clutch has been around for about 15 years
so you have a pretty solid fan base, but what about
people who are just discovering you?
Neil -- Well, come see us at a show. That's what it's
all about. Welcome to the club!