Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist Neil Fallon of Maryland rockers Clutch. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
DCHeavyMetal.com: What can fans expect from the new album [Earth Rocker]?
Neil: Well, I think, as a whole, this record is probably faster than most of our recent albums. Maybe compared to some other bands, it’s not the fastest thing on planet Earth. For us it was definitely a step up in the tempo. And I think the other thing that kind of stands out about this one is the blues influences that we’ve been flirting with over the past couple records is more or less absent in this record, which didn’t really happen intentionally until we looked back at it. As a whole, it’s just much more of a straight-up rock and roll record.
DCHeavyMetal.com: This will be the second studio release for Clutch on your own label, the Weathermaker Music label. Why exactly did you guys decide to ditch, say, a “traditional” label and instead create your own and put your own music out this way?
Neil: Well, we’ve tried it many many times with many different iterations with labels, and just to be frank about it, the major labels are in the business of selling platinum records and even a gold record, probably, in their eyes is considered somewhat of a failure. CLUTCH is a band that, we’re happy to be a touring band and continue to do what we do, but I don’t think we’re that band and we never were. But in the ’90s, it did give us an opportunity to do a lot of touring, tour support and kick down a lot of doors that way to eventually put us in this position that we have now. And because of the Internet, and how easy it is to connect with people, it’s very easy to cut out a lot of middle men and sell directly to the people that want to buy our records. It’s more work and you can make mistakes, but if something goes wrong, you know who to blame and it’s a lot easier to fix. And I think if any artist is in a position to do this, you know whether they be a writer or comedian or it doesn’t matter, you’d be foolish not to. Because it just makes more sense. I don’t see why you would subscribe to the kind of antiquated model of a major label. I think some people look at that as some kind of patron or home, but we never certainly thought that way.
DCHeavyMetal.com: So has it changed the way you put your albums out, like the way you record it or anything like that as well?
Neil: Um, I don’t want to say it complicates it, but we have to kind of wear both hats. You know, on one hand we want to be the band and say well we want this amazing package. We want this to fold out. We want to do this, we want to do that. But at the same time, we’re also the label and we’re looking, well, that’s going to cost X amount of dollars, that’s going to cost Y. So we have to kind of find a happy compromise between those two. We certainly haven’t changed any of the writing aspect of it, or the recording. We haven’t tried to cut corners because of it. If anything, it’s made our ability to do cool packages easier because it’s much more cost effective. But other than that, not a lot has changed. It’s going very well.
DCHeavyMetal.com: Well, you talk about the packages. You guys put out the Blast Tyrant, you re-released it with some bonus material and stuff. A whole another disc, actually. Are you planning on doing that with any of your other older albums in the future?
Neil: Well, we’ve kind of exhausted that. Blast Tyrant and Robot Hive/Exodus and Beale Street were out on a label called DRT that was the last label we were signed to before we went out on our own. And to make a long story short, they just stopped paying us our royalties and we had to go to court to get the money. We won the case, but they still couldn’t pay us, so in lieu of paying us what we were owed, we were awarded those masters for those records. It was sort of a windfall to Weathermaker to get these three records back and we could re-release them. But the ones prior to that, when you’re talking about Pure Rock Fury and Elephant Riders and the self-titled, maybe in the distant future those records will revert back to us just because of the terms of the contract will expire. But that’s not on our to-do list because trying to talk to Sony’s lawyers is like launching a spacecraft.
You can read the entire interview at DCHeavyMetal.com. The chat is also available for streaming in audio format using the SoundCloud player below.