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Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 8, 2007

Celebrating Columbus . . .

"1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them."

-- Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), author, from Breakfast of Champions

(NOTE: Strictly speaking, this Vonnegut quote doesn't have anything to do with journalism. I'll owe you one. On the other hand, Columbus didn't have anything to do with discovering America, either, strictly speaking.)


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 certain regards.

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 me.

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!



Copyright 1997-2007 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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