27 years in the rear-view mirror, still accelerating
July 11, 2019
The Clyde lets out the Clutch on July 16.
It seems hard to believe when Clutch guitarist Tim Sult refers to their 27-year history, but in fact Clutch has been around a long time. Formed in Maryland in 1991, the band has now released a dozen albums and has toured extensively.
This year they’re trying a few new things, including a tour with Killswitch Engage which will bring them to The Clyde this month. Also new is a recent digital release, a cover of the Willie Dixon classic “Evil.” The song is the first in a series of digital releases, a project Sult called “an experiment,” but it doesn’t signal the end of album releases for the band.
Focus on Digital — for now
“At this point we’re putting out a series of digital releases and not putting out a physical product,” Sult said. “We thought we’d try something a little bit different. But as for digital versus physical product, we do still think it’s worthwhile to put out physical albums. For bands like us that have been around awhile and have an older fan base, they still like physical albums. And a lot of them still like CDs, not just the vinyl albums. So we’re doing these digital releases now, but that’s not Clutch saying they aren’t putting out physical product anymore or that these songs won’t someday end up on an album.”
Dubbed The Weathermaker Vault Series, the releases include a couple of covers (a ZZ Top cover is coming later in the summer) as well as new versions of Clutch favorites, songs Sult said have evolved over time, making new recordings closer to what fans have been hearing live.
“Some of our songs have taken on a new life as we’ve played them live over the years,” he said. “I think a lot of our songs are better now than when we first recorded them. Our sense of arrangement is better, and guitar-wise there were earlier recordings that the guitar parts were layered on top of each other, and I’ve taken all of those parts and made them into one now. There are also songs where we had keyboards, but we don’t have keyboards live, so we’re recording them in a way that better reflects what fans have been hearing live.”
Although they worked with producer Vance Powell on their 2018 hit album Book of Bad Decisions, which required the band to record in Nashville, Clutch stayed closer to their Maryland home for the Vault Series. Home base for Clutch is Frederick, Md., centrally located for band members who live in nearby towns.
When told another performer from Maryland, Joan Jett, was also visiting Fort Wayne this month, Sult shared an amusing anecdote.
“I met Joan Jett last year at Riot Fest, and she has a totally New York accent,” Sult said. “She sounds like she could be a member of KISS. But when I was in junior high or high school, there was a kid in my class who insisted — just absolutely insisted — that Joan Jett had been his babysitter when he was younger. So when I met Joan Jett at Riot Fest, I asked her about that. And she said that she had lived in Maryland during that time and did babysit.”
With new digital releases scheduled to appear every four to six weeks, Clutch has already been playing the new material so Sult assured there will be no surprises for those who have been seeing them live.
But what they are doing to keep things fresh is touring with different bands from those they may have in the past. Sult said they built their reputation from doing that and enjoy continuing the tradition.
“I’m excited to be playing shows with Killswitch Engage,” he said. “We haven’t performed with them before or even really been around them, so that’ll be nice to collaborate with someone new. We basically were both going out on tour and looking for someone else to tour with.
“We’re doing something similar later this summer with Dropkick Murphy. It’s great to go out with another band with a big fan base, and then our fan base might also get to hear bands they haven’t before, too.
“That’s why Clutch is here in the first place. We toured with bands who had a big fan base, and eventually we were able to develop a fan base of our own. It helps to keep it fresh and new to play for a bunch of people who haven’t seen us play live and maybe don’t really know our music that well. It’s always fun and new and challenging to play, not only for our fans, but for people who don’t really know us.”