One of the most unassuming (and modest) guitar gods you’re likely to meet, Tim Sult took some time before Clutch’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza in Worcester, MA to chat with Popblerd about the bands upcoming album and the best part about being in Clutch today:
Why was Worcester the best spot to end your 2012?
Pretty much every year since we’ve been a band we’ve done an East Coast run at this time of the year. We never know which city we’re gonna end up playing New Year’s Eve in but it could be anywhere in the East Coast, y’know, the Northern East Coast.
22 years as a band, 21 years since debut EP, 10th studio album on the way, what drives Clutch to continue to make music together?
Well, I think just the fact that we still enjoy playing music and writing songs that’s rewarding to us when we finish (writing) a song. There’s really no secret aside from the fact that we’ve been slowly able to build a fan base and that things always move forward in a progressive direction and we’ve never really had any extreme setbacks. There was never a time, like in the ’90’s, where we were a huge band that got played on the radio and then never got played again or something like that. It doesn’t really feel like that long.
That said, you’ve had absolutely no lineup changes since Clutch began. How easy or hard has it been to keep things smooth over such a long period of time?
It’s actually been surprisingly relatively very easy. You know, there’ve been times where it’s gone through I’m sure every band members mind: “Who knows, maybe we won’t be able to do this forever?” Especially in the ’90’s where there were times when we didn’t make any money and we had to go and just drive around in a van all the time. There was a time where it was a little bit mentally taxing but we pulled through and then eventually got a little bit bigger and we’re still building today. I mean, it’s not like we’re huge or anything obviously. We’re still playing the same places (laughs).
You just released live performance footage of “Earth Rocker” and it definitely seems Pure Rock Fury-ish. Is that song indicative of the record as a whole? What can fans expect from Earth Rocker?
The whole album is pretty much fast, heavy tracks. “Earth Rocker” is definitely one of the faster, heavier ones for sure. To me, it sounds like a cross between the good parts of Transnational Speedway League combined with Blast Tyrant. That’s probably the best way to describe it to a Clutch fan.
At almost four years since Beale Street was released, Earth Rocker marks the biggest gap between Clutch records. What made the recording process of ER different than other releases?
It was four years ago? What took us so long? I have absolutely no idea. We were playing lots of shows. Doing things here and there. Trying to get Europe going a little bit more. That’s kinda sort of started to work out where we’re getting better shows. People are coming to our shows where at times before, they didn’t. We’re getting on some better festivals over there as well.
Do you prefer being in the studio or being on stage?
How do you pick a set list every night?
Each band member is responsible for doing the set list. Every fourth show everyone will get to write a set list. Yeah, there was a time where we would all just get together and work on the setlists together and it was a complete waste of time so we just decided “You make it tonight, you make it this night, etc…”
Do you have a favorite Clutch song?
My favorite Clutch song is…”Ghost”. I think the full title is “(Eulogy For A) Ghost”. That would be my favorite Clutch song.
What caused the change in sound between Transnational… and Clutch?
Um, just the fact that we toured. We went out and started playing. Started working on our tones a little bit more and during that time we really warmed up our sound quite a bit. I was 23 years old when Transnational… came out (And I’m the oldest one in the band) so just being that young and going out on the road and not making any money but just loving it and listening to music all the time and absorbing different kinds of music.
What is the biggest difference being in Clutch now vs when the band first started?
We have fans and the fact that we can actually go on tour and come home and not have to live with our parents. That’s kind of a good thing.
Earth Rocker is out in March through Weathermaker Music. Catch Clutch on tour throughout the new year.