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Neil Fallon (Clutch)

Interview with Neil Fallon from Clutch
by Katrina Cannon at 18 August 2005, 5:10 AM

Clutch is a band that I've been listening to and following for about the past 7 years. I've seen them 3 times and each time is outstanding. Being granted this interview was a total honor. I met Neil (Fallon- singer) on his bus about an hour before they were to play. He was totally relaxed, down to earth and extremely hospitable. He spoke to me about being on The Sounds of The Underground Tour and the method and philosophies behind the immense band, Clutch.

How’s the tour going so far?

It’s going wonderfully. We’re about 2 weeks into it and it’s been a breeze. Everybody’s been really cool. We got skeptical because Rock ‘n’ Roll is full of egos and when you get this many people involved sometimes it can be oil and water, but as far as I can tell everyone is really cool and just looking to put on a good Rock show. You know, smiles all the way around.

How do you feel to be on tour with such an array of Metal bands?

It’s good. I think the whole point of this is to not preach to our own choir, it’s to go out and play for people who may have heard the name but may not have heard the music or seen the show. And if there are 5000 people at the show and we gain 100 fans, then that’s the whole idea.

What are your plans for after this tour?

Another tour. Our album came out about 2 weeks ago and we’ll do a headlining tour in support of that record around September, then again in October and November and then again in December in the United Kingdom.

Is it tough having such a heavy schedule?

It can be, but that’s what music is all about. I was always kind of befuddled by bands that moan about going out on tour ‘cause that’s the whole idea, I think. Making albums and videos are kind of secondary things at least in this band’s mind.

Your new album, Robot Hive / Exodus was released in June. How did the recording go?

It was a breeze. We recorded with Jay Robbins who was in Jawbox , he also produced it and he’s really easy going. On our previous record, it was our first record that we did completely digitally. This record is digital as well but we tried to incorporate more of an analog philosophy in some of the things we did.

That’s an odd name for an album. How did you come up with that?

Yeah, it is a weird one. Well, when we were listening to it we were trying to get the feel of the vibe of the record and the two things that came to mind. A gospel feel in some sense, I think that’s always been in the music and with Mick \[Schauer- keyboardist) playing the Hammond B3 I think it kind of accentuated that and there’s a bit of a sci-fi element to the lyrics and Robot Hive / Exodus is the way we synthesized the two to make it sound more important than it is.

So there’s a sci-fi theme to it?

There’s no unified theme. I’m a sci-fi dork, I write the lyrics, so I think that’s how it ends up being the band’s vibe.

Where do the stories for the lyrics come from?

I think being a good listener, there’s plenty of material out there. Especially just traveling, you meet a lot of strange people, you can eavesdrop on things they’re saying and just plagiarize them and make it into a Rock song. \[Laughs]

Since Transitional Speedway League - Anthems, Anecdotes And Undeniable Truths (1993) and this album there’s been a sort of overall change in sound, can you explain that?

It’s hard to say because it wasn’t calculated; it’s just kind of like an extension of our personalities. I think early on we were much more rooted in Hardcore and Metal to some degree and later on it was more like classic Rock, more Blues oriented and more of a Jazz influence but they’re not necessarily overt in the band, but the subtly creep in at least in the writing process.

Outside of the band, what are some of your personal musical influences?

The stuff I listened to when I was really young was mostly Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and ZZ Top. Then later on I started listening to Black Flag and Public Enemy. Nowadays I particularly like the old Blues singers and really good songwriters like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. That’s what I listen to and I get inspired, like I wish I could write like that.

Now, I know there are a lot of bootlegs out there but are there any plans for an official live DVD?

Yeah, there have been plans for that for so long now. The problem with that is those things cost a whole lot of money. We finally bit the bullet and tried to do it ourselves but we just haven’t been able to get together. So hopefully, we’ll hire somebody and have it out by the beginning of next year.

Clutch has been around for some 13 years but still seem to be a big part of the underground scene. Do you feel the band is hindered in any way,or do you prefer to be not so mainstream?

I think it would be dishonest to say that I don’t want as many people as possible to hear the music but the band, as a whole, we could do without fame, we don’t desire that , we don’t want a popularity contest. I think there’s something to be said about the intimacy of it and I think with our shows there’s almost a sense of exclusivity. Once that’s lost, you’re almost poisoning the well. Like if a band were to get really big that were previously underground, once they lost that popularity, which inevitably they always do, they won’t find that kind of passion in the underground, under the radar, so it’s a risky thing. It’s not something you can engineer, you kind of just have to go with the flow. I’m happy with what we have. There are a lot of bands that can never even get out of their own town and they bust their backs everyday, so we try to never lose sight of that.

Any Last Words?

Um, just thanks for everything.

Links: # Clutch’s Official Website, # Sounds Of The Underground Official Website


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