Clutch’s Neil Fallon Talks Upcoming Album, Weathermaker Music + More
Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show. He spoke about the expectations and creative process for the band’s next album and also opened up about the band’s Weathermaker Music label. Check out the chat below:
Earth Rocker was arguably Clutch’s best album. Neil, what expectations does that set for making new music?
Well, I guess there are two answers to that because we already finished recording our next record. It is in the process of being mixed right now. And I do recall that when we first started writing I kind of had a bit of a head game going on trying to preoccupy myself with upping the bar, and that only kind of created problems because that’s just unneeded pressure. Then I realized we never really thought that way when we were making Earth Rocker, so then I just kind of let go — and once I stopped fretting about that, it became a much easier record to write.
You’re Maryland guys and you went to Texas to work on this album. How does location and environment influence your creative mindset?
I think it has a huge influence on it, and that’s one of the great things about touring. Something you can be exposed to things you wouldn’t otherwise. I can think of one case in particular on this record. There was one song that we had written the last minute, and I hadn’t written any lyrics about it and then I had to come up with something on the spot. It is all about some imaginary stay in the locale we were at in Texas at the time.
The last album, going into it you were admittedly influenced by Motorhead and Thin Lizzy. What were you listening to you that might have affected the sound of the next album?
Well, that’s hard to say. I think in a lot of ways it is similar to Earth Rocker because we started writing it very quickly after we started touring for Earth Rocker, whereas in the past Strange Cousins from the West was four years before Earth Rocker. So, I think there is a lot of similarities. It may even, as whole, be faster than Earth Rocker. The songs might be more succinct than Earth Rocker. But at this point I have heard it so many times that I can’t make heads or tails or it at this point.
Clutch songs are abstract stories. What nonmusical storytellers influenced your lyrics?
Oh boy. Let’s see. I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy as far as novels so and Phillip K. Dick is probably the biggest influence because I’m a sci-fi fanatic — and the way he addresses artistic inspiration and insanity, and kind of unreality and reality all meeting at a crossroads in a plot line is something that I try to emulate every once in a while in a three minute song — usually failing miserably — but he is a huge influence in a non-musical nature.
Clutch has its own label, Weathermaker Music. Lionize was the first band you’ve released that’s independent of any other members in Clutch. What do you have to hear to bring a band into the Clutch roster?
Well, we have to hear musicianship, first of all, and I think, probably, of equal importance, is work ethic. Meaning getting into your van or RV or whatever, and just road-dogging it. That’s what it’s really all about, and these days I think that is more important than ever. I don’t envy bands coming up these days because there is such an embarrassment of riches because of the internet, but Lionize is an example of a band that has no problem living in a van in order to make things happen. I think as a band, Clutch, we appreciate musicianship regardless of the genre. I think that matters more than anything else.
Music is predominant in you life. When you’re not playing it, you’re writing it or listening to it. How has music changed as a companion to you compared to when you first discovered it?
I think when I first discovered it as a teenager and then finding the group of kids that also liked the same kind of music I like, it was a bonding thing. You had your little scene and your little enclave and it went hand in hand with developing an identity in growing up into a young adult. It took me on an adventure that I’m very grateful for, but now I think there’s a great deal of humility that comes along with that because I look at the larger picture of not just heavy metal and rock n roll but also jazz, blues, etc. I see how insignificant our band is in this process but at the same time I feel very grateful that I’ve been able to participate in it in any way. It’s been an education, I think.
See Clutch on the road with Mastodon. That tour runs through May. Really long tour for you guys.
Yeah, we try and do about four weeks. We get tapped out after that these days. It’ll be easy because we know Mastodon very well and we get along with them splendidly and that always makes a tour fly by.
Thanks to Clutch’s Neil Fallon for the interview. Catch the band on tour this spring at these stops. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.