Clutch is an American rock band from Germantown, Maryland, formed in 1990. The band's first release was an EP entitled Pitchfork, which debuted in October 1990. Their first studio album, Transnational Speedway League, was released three years later in 1993.
Neil Fallon and Clutch performing in 2007.
Clutch formed in 1990 and built a local following through constant live performances. Following the initial 7" single release of "Passive Restraints" on the Earache label, Clutch was signed by the EastWest Records label. The debut LP, Transnational Speedway League, was released in 1993. It was followed by a self-titled album two years later that afforded Clutch mainstream exposure. The band moved to the larger Columbia label for 1998's The Elephant Riders release.
Pure Rock Fury appeared in 2001 on the Atlantic label. The title track was initially released as the first single. The program director for North Carolina rock station, WXQR (Rock 105), Brian Rickman, suggested that the label switch singles to another track from the album, "Careful with that Mic". Atlantic did so, and Clutch was afforded a surprise hit single. The follow-up tracks, "Immortal" and "Open Up the Border" were also well-received by American rock stations.
The album Blast Tyrant was released three years later, their first for DRT Records. The band once again enjoyed more rock radio airplay and heavy rotation on the Music Choice cable service thanks to the single "The Mob Goes Wild". Its accompanying video was directed by Bam Margera, and featured Margera's Viva La Bam so-stars; Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo and Don Vito.
Among Clutch's numerous side releases were a groove-based album, 2000's Jam Room, as well as Live at the Googolplex and the rarities record Slow Hole to China, both issued in 2003. The 2005 release Pitchfork & Lost Needles combined Clutch's 1991 Pitchfork 7 with unreleased demos and early tracks. In 2005 the band saw their first lineup change since the early 1990s with the addition of organist Mick Schauer, who performed on the albums Robot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street to Oblivion. The latter album was released in March 2007 and featured producer Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Melvins, Queens of the Stone Age, Tool). The album was leaked onto the internet in early March. Critical reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; the magazine Metal Hammer called it a "future classic, the best album the group has ever produced, and easily a front runner for album of the year."
While the band has not recovered their previous radio airplay with subsequent releases, Clutch have accumulated a devoted cult following. The following has been cultivated by an ambitious touring schedule; the band often performs more than one hundred shows per year. The band's first live DVD, Full Fathom Five, and accompanying CD were released in September 2008. The band also released a remastered version of Slow Hole to China: Rare and Unreleased on , 2009
The band's ninth studio album Strange Cousins From The West, was released on , 2009. Some of these songs were performed at the venue The Crazy Donkey in Farmingdale, NY, Kuma's in Chicago, IL, as well as Jed's (formerly Headliners) in Toledo, OH, prior to the album's release.
Each Clutch album is marked by a distinct and cohesive sound. The musical style of the band has migrated from heavy metal and hardcore punk to hard rock. The band has also integrated funk influences into their rock sound. Strong blues influences have also become prominent in the releases of the later years as vocalist/guitarist Neil Fallon notes: "We've been really conscious of the blues over the last couple of years, and you have to admit that the blues really is the source of all rock and roll. I think it's important to go to the source to find that inspiration."
The lyrics of Clutch songs have progressed from early releases that were marked with an angry, serious tone to latter releases that are characterized by intelligence, wordplay, and subtle humour. The songs make frequent references to history, mythology, popular culture, and religion; for example, "I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth", from the self-titled album, tells the story of a fisherman who discovers the corpse of Lincoln's assassin in the Susquehanna River. Jam Room's "Release the Kraken" inserts a hero called Useless the Younger into the movie Clash of the Titans. The lyrics also contain some surrealistic imagery, as in this quote from Robot Hive/Exodus's "Burning Beard": "Every time I look out my window/ same three dogs looking back at me. Every time I open my windows/ cranes fly in to terrorize me."
Neil Fallon ??? vocals, guitar
Tim Sult ??? guitar
Dan Maines ??? bass guitar
Jean-Paul Gaster ??? drums
Mick Schauer - keyboards (2005-2008)
In the late 1990s, Clutch and its sibling project The Bakerton Group (an instrumental jam band composed of Clutch members Maines, Sult, Gaster, and Fallon) formed an independent record label, River Road Records, to release their own music. River Road does not sign any other artists. The Bakerton Group has released one three-track EP, Space Guitars, a self-titled full length album and a full length album titled El Rojo.
Neil Fallon is also the singer for The Company Band. In addition, Fallon's younger sister and Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman's friend from college, Mary Alice Fallon-Yeskey, works at Charm City Cakes as the office manager.
Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster made an appearance on the album The Mystery Spot of blues-rock band Five Horse Johnson. The album was released on , 2006 via Small Stone Records. In 2007, Jean-Paul Gaster collaborated with Opeth keyboardist Per Wiberg and Kamchatka guitarist Thomas Andersson on a band called King Hobo, which has thus far release one album. Jean-Paul Gaster appears on the album Punctuated Equilibrium by Scott "Wino" Weinrich, released via Southern Lord Records in 2009.
Neil Fallon provided guest vocals on the songs "Two Coins for Eyes" and "Empire's End" on the 2008 album Beyond Colossal by Swedish stoner rock band Dozer. Fallon also lent his vocals to the song "Mummies Wrapped in Money" by Lionize. Fallon also lent guest vocals on "Blood and Thunder" by Mastodon track #1 on Leviathan