Americana Roots: Clutch

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  Long-time cult favourite Clutch is the sound of Robert Johnson, the Drive-By Truckers, and Black Sabbath fighting in a dark, back-alley after a long night of drinking.

Name: Clutch.

For Fans Of: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Wilco, 13th Floor Elevators, Drive-By Truckers.

Hometown: Germantown, Maryland USA.

Band Members:  Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Dan Maines (bass), Tim Sult (guitar).


Discography:  Transnational Speedway League’ (1993), ‘Clutch’ (1995), ‘The Elephant Riders’ (1998), ‘Jam Room’ (1999), ‘Pure Rock Fury’ (2001), ‘Blast Tyrant’ (2004), ‘Robot Hive/Exodus’ (2005), ‘From Beale Street to Oblivion’ (2007), ‘Strange Cousins from the West‘ (2009), ‘Earth Rocker’ (2013), ‘Psychic Warfare’ (2015), ‘Book of Bad Decisions’ (2018)

Background:  Clutch belies the perception of what a roots and Americana based band must sound like.  There reliance on the roots of American music and the way they interpret it allows them space to create their own sonic universe that straddles the oh-so-too thin line between the harder almost metal edge mined in their early years, to the raging punk-fury that inhabited their music for so long, to the deep roots-blues-stomp that purveys their work today.  Think of the Drive By Truckers waking up on the wrong side of the bed and spending the entire day with a gigantic chip on their shoulder and you should begin to understand where Clutch is coming from.

Clutch has long been one of the most overlooked live bands today, and while they have maintained a legion of devoted fans, they seem to purposely stay away from the spotlight, instead choosing to remain that small cult-favorite.

Formed in 1991 by Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Clutch has kept their original line-up together for their twenty-year duration.  Originally starting as hardcore metal act, they quickly began to evolve their sound, moving from the hardcore stomp of ‘Transnational Speedway League’ and ‘Impetus’, to the more blues based sound of albums like ‘From Beale Street to Oblivion’ that echoes the long history of the blues that calls Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee home with its deep soulful licks and down-home outlaw rock riffs.  This does not mean that they now play with any less ferocity or rage than they used to, it has just now evolved into a thoughtful intensity.  Fallon’s insightful lyrics that cover everything from history, to mythology, to social concerns add a thoughtful contrast to the inspired groove.  As Fallon says, “Musically, we’ve become much more of a rock ‘n’ roll band now, as opposed to being a metal or hardcore one.  Our style is riff oriented, with a swing.  It’s never been a calculated move; we just followed our instinct, and that is leading us closer to those bands to whom we listened to in our childhood.”

What They Do Live:

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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