Legendary rock band Clutch have been a popular name in both hard rock and metal circles for over 20 years. Ever since their self titled second album, the band had developed a signature sound which contains catchy riffs, blues and southern rock influence and bizarre lyrics. While this sound would continue throughout their career, the band would also experiment with many different styles including hardcore, stoner rock, blues, folk, heavy metal and many more.
Last year Clutch, released an album called Psychic Warfare. This album reached number one on the Billboard Rock Charts, a first for the band. Now in 2016, Clutch are one of the many bands set to play this years Rock Carnival. This is a fest that will play from September 30th to October 2nd in Lakewood, New Jersey and contains other greats such as Overkill, Alice Cooper and Monster Magnet. I recently had the chance to speak with guitarist Tim Sult, who talked touring with Motorhead’s Lemmy as well as his thoughts on the state of rock music today.
Can you tell us a bit about Rock Carnival?
Well this our second year playing. I don’t know if they are doing it this year, but last year we had about 50 food trucks. It’s always fun stuffing your face after the show. The fest asked us to play again this year and we get to play with Alice Cooper, which is always fun.
Last year the food truck area was open to the public and was next to the concert instead of part of it. That section was free and then the concert was admission only.
Any acts you excited to share the stage with besides Alice Cooper?
Well we are on tour with Zakk Wylde right now, he’s always fun to play with. Any fest with Monster Magnet, Blue Osyter Cult, Overkill and Twisted Sister is a good fest to me.
Clutch really tends to jump genres…
To us it doesn’t really feel like style changing. As far as songwriting goes we try not to repeat ourselves. We don’t want to write the same songs over and over again. It could have been easy to restrain ourselves and keep writing songs in that style, but that would be boring. We always wanted to write different songs. To us when we get in a room and jam, our stuff doesn’t feel much different than our old stuff. It might to the listener though. To us its always been the same approach to songwriting. We weren’t trying to be a hardcore band and then a stoner rock band, it was just a natural evolution as we got into more styles of music.
I noticed that two things that have never changed with the band are the guitar tone and signature nonsense lyrics.
I think the template for the whole band was pretty much set on or second self titled album. It’s got the riffs, it’s got the bluesy stuff, acoustic stuff, and jammy stuff. I think that record set the standards for the Clutch sound. That is why I don’t get it when people say we changed so much. So many future elements were on that second album.
Whats the inspiration behind some of the bizarre stories the band’s songs tell?
Neil writes all the lyrics to the songs and luckily hes a great story teller. His lyrics are over the top and out there. He knows how to write great fiction stories that people latch on to. “I Have The Body Of John Wilkes Booth” is a song that lyrically, hasn’t been done before. We are lucky to have someone in the band who could weave those weird Americana tales. I’m as much a fan of Neil’s lyrics as the average Clutch fan. It’s always to fun read the stories behind these songs.
Your last album, Psychic Warfare, made it to number one on the rock charts. Were you excited when this happened?
Yes, it is great to get that recognition. It’s our most successful album to date. It even made to number eleven on the Billboard Album Charts. We never expected to be more successful this late in our career.
Yeah it is pretty cool to chart that high especially considering there aren’t many popular rock releases nowadays.
There aren’t many hard rock bands putting out music today that is too exciting. Graveyard is a very good band. They have four albums as of now. They are one of my favorite newer hard rock bands. Rival Sons are pretty good too. The Shrine is also pretty rocking.
I know you guys have toured with Motorhead in the past. Did you get to meet Lemmy? How was he in person?
He was super cool and mellow. Neil talked to him more than I did. He told Neil that our song “Electric Worry” is our “Ace of Spades”. Touring with them was great. It was like looking into a crystal ball and seeing your own future.