Maryland rockers forge ahead on their own in an age when record labels are less important to its success. Interview with guitarist Tim Sult.
Over the past 20-plus years, the Maryland band Clutch has achieved what most bands only dream of accomplishing.
Following years of bouncing around the recording industry, signed to a myriad of labels such as Atlantic, Columbia and Elektra during the band’s first decade, Clutch’s blend of hard rock, blues, humor, and out-there lyrics — think Metallica meets ZZ Top meets Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in a southern juke joint — has garnered the band a worldwide fan base.
It has also been successful as an indie band, following years of dealing with the record industry.
In 2012, Clutch is hotter than ever as its former “contemporaries” such as Korn and the like have pretty fallen out of view/favor.
What makes it even better for Clutch is that, today, its members (bassist Dan Maines, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, guitarist Tim Sult, and vocalist/guitarist Neil Fallon) not only release albums on their own label (Weathermaker Music), but they own the rights to their three electrifying ’00s albums, 2004’s Blast Tyrant, 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus and 2007’s stellar From Beale Street to Oblivion, all originally released on the DRT label.
Along with putting out new records every year or so and touring, the band has re-released each of the aforementioned DRT albums on limited edition vinyl (and CD) to much success. Clutch is currently on tour — with Hellyeah — in support of the recent (and final) release from the trilogy, Blast Tyrant, a double-album 180+ gram expanded edition featuring acoustic bonus tracks and six posters.
The band’s spring tour just kicked off and hits the House of Blues in Atlantic City on Saturday, April 14. It also has a new album in the works, and a new song — “Pigtown Blues” — will be released as a vinyl picture disc on April 24, the band’s first new material since 2009’s Strange Cousins From the West.
Clutch guitarist Tim Sult spoke to Atlantic City Weekly as the band was prepping to hit the road.
How did Clutch start out?
We started out playing together pretty much right after high school. We started out in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The other guys in the band started playing together when they were in 12th grade; I was already out of school by then. But I eventually started playing with them.
What kind of music were they doing at the time?
It was more punk rock, straightforward hardcore type of stuff. They never played any shows or anything, and then I joined the band and played with them for a couple of years. We never played any shows; the first Clutch show didn’t happen until 1991. So, it was probably about two or three years of just kind of playing together in basements, just trying to figure things out before we actually played a show. Our first show was in Washington, DC.
Over the course of the past 20 years and over a dozen records, what’s changed the most about Clutch?
Well, for us, over the years we’ve become more independent, I think. At this point, we’re pretty much doing everything on our own. Whereas at the beginning, we were really young — we were in our early 20s and it was just really a different time in music, where bands depended a little bit more on labels and stuff like that. Over the years we were able to break free of that.
"When I learned how to play guitar, it was for the love of music," says Guy, who took a train up to Chicago at age 20 and began his professional career in music. "You couldn't look forward, when I was 14-years-old, and say, 'If I become a good guitar player I can live comfortably.' There was no such thing as that."
Over the past decade or so, the songwriter, singer, harmonica player and self-professed music-gear fanatic has received a slew of accolades, chart hits, awards and nominations — breathing a new life into his “still evolving” music career.
Shorty's new album is fantastically badass, sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard and it’s Shorty’s third in an inspired trilogy of blistering blues-guitar drenched albums for Alligator Records.
B.B. King has been playing the guitar since he was a young man growing up in Mississippi. Interested early on in a variety of American music styles including gospel, country, blues and jazz, King (born Riley King) soon became attracted to the six-stringed instrument that he would later refer to, when speaking of his own, as "Lucille." He began to emulate guitar pioneers such as Django Reinhardt, Lonnie Johnson and, later, electric guitar innovator T-Bone Walker. Soon King traveled to the music epicenter of Memphis where he located and learned from blues guitarist - and relative - Bukka White. After a stint as a disc jockey and performer in Memphis, where he took on the name B.B., a shortened version of his "Beale Street Blues Boy" DJ moniker, King set out for the road. In the early 1950s, his music career took off as he brought his ever-expanding catalogue of R&B chart hits from city to city, becoming one of the genre's most prolific artists. More than 60 years later, King's guitar sound is one of the most distinctive in all of music. His subtle, yet soul-bending guitar lines and signature singing voice has helped make songs like "Three O' Clock...
If you were thinking about avoiding Bader Field in Atlantic City the weekend of June 23-24 because you’re just not a fan of heavy metal music, you may want to reconsider your decision.
Along with a new Orion Festival news ticker added to the band's site, Metallica has added a Damage Inc. stage that will feature "lots of cool, heavy, thrash and punk bands."
The second of four musical events has been revealed for Bader Field with the band Phish announcing on its web site a summer tour that includes a trip to Atlantic City for three nights of performances on Friday, June 15, Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17.
This weekend's party is bringing you The Hot Tub Fringe Stage, a sick metal playlist we've compiled for your enjoyment — and some gnarly pictures of some of the greatest heavy metal hairstyles throughout the ages.
"[Atlantic City's] location was really central. You’ve got good facilities, it’s not, you know, like 39 miles on some two-lane country road — that kind of vibe, you know, so it’s just the fact that it’s practical, there’s a lot of facilities and since we’re not doing like a camping thing we thought it would be good to be close to infrastructure so the fans do have like the backbone of a place like Atlantic City at their disposal."
"It’s cool to get up with Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, you know, Doug E. Fresh, who leads the pack with the most shows each year, and everybody’s catching up. So it’s more than just a show, it’s kind of like checking who weathered the storm, who has stood the test of time, and it’s about a second coming coming back around because [hip-hop] music of today is not what it was yesterday."
The band 311 doesn’t have to record another album. The veteran pop-rock group could tour and pack venues for the foreseeable future and, in recent years, has been going out without product to push.
If you’re into rock, blues and a touch of southern raunchiness, it doesn’t get much better than ZZ Top. The Texas trio has been playing music for close to 40 years together (unbelievable!) and — as last year’s Live From Texas release showcased — ZZ Top still cooks like a mother.
Best Albums of 2012