Review of Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Well all our year end posts have put me a bit behind on things but better late than never I suppose. On Sunday, December 27th I was at the 9:30 Club to see Clutch play along with Crobot and Valkyrie. There was a film crew there so it is very likely that this show, or at least parts of it, could wind up on a future Clutch video.

I got there early to make sure I could catch Valkyrie. The band is from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and is probably best known for sharing a guitarist with the band Baroness, Pete Adams. However it is Pete’s brother Jake Adams that is the driving force behind Valkyrie. The band’s sound is steeped in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with Jake’s vocals often pausing for several extended dueling guitar solos between the Adams brothers. Riffs abound and the chemistry between the brothers is as apparent as the fun they were having while performing on the 9:30 Club’s big stage. These guys have been something of a regional secret and it’s about time the word gets out about them. Hopefully this winter mini tour with Clutch will lead to bigger and better things for them.

The next band to play was Crobot from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. They’re a relatively new band, having formed in 2011, though they obviously see themselves as some sort of 70s throwback band. I’m generally ok with throwback bands but I’ve got to admit these guys just didn’t do it for me. I found their songs overly simple and the vocalist, Brandon Yeagley, was running around on stage striking poses like a coked up Steven Tyler. His voice was reminiscent of Geddy Lee, which is probably a good thing to some and bad thing to others, but honestly his stage presence was so annoying I quickly lost interest in not just him but the entire band.

Finally it was time for local favorites Clutch! This was the first time the Germantown, Maryland, based band would play to a local audience since the release of their latest album, Psychic Warfare, back in October. The album was well received and Clutch played the entire album throughout the course of the night, though not in order. A giant sized banner with the new album’s cover artwork hung behind Clutch while they performed their new songs with some older tunes thrown in throughout as well, and what a performance it was! The band hit the stage hot and seemed to fly through their set list without a whole lot of talking between songs. Clutch has really perfected their sound and live performance over the years and shows like this one make it obvious that they aren’t slowing down any time soon. Many bands at this stage of their careers start to lose a step or three but Clutch seems to only be getting better. It’s a rare quality that makes their energetic live shows special every time they play to their home crowd here in DC.

Below are my shots of the bands that night, you can click on any of them to see them full sized.

Valkyrie:

Valkyrie at the 9:30 Club

Valkyrie at the 9:30 Club

Valkyrie at the 9:30 Club

Valkyrie at the 9:30 Club

Valkyrie at the 9:30 Club

Crobot:

Crobot at the 9:30 Club

Crobot at the 9:30 Club

Crobot at the 9:30 Club

Clutch:

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

Review of Psychic Warfare by Clutch

Band: Clutch
Album: Psychic Warfare
Release Date: 2 October 2015
Record Label: Weathermaker Music
Buy CD ($9.79) or digital ($9.49) from: Amazon

Psychic Warfare by Clutch

Clutch has come a long way since their days on a major label. They show no signs of slowing down now that they release their albums through their own label, Weathermaker Music. DCHM writer Buzzo Jr breaks down the blue collar heroes’ latest call to arms in the following review of Psychic Warfare. Be sure to check out the music video at the end of this post.

For over 20 years Clutch has built up a dedicated cult following in the DMV area and beyond with their hard hitting brand of rock n roll. Now Maryland’s favorite band is back with their eleventh album Psychic Warfare, the much anticipated follow up to the immensely successful Earth Rocker from 2013. Like their previous album, Psychic Warfare is jam packed with high energy, blues driven stoner rock that’s begging to be played loud and is sure to get your head banging.

After a short intro track entitled “The Affidavit,” where frontman Neil Fallon’s deep voice asks the listener to take a seat and “Just start from the beginning,” the album gets off to a powerful start with “X-Ray Visions” which is filled to the brim with groovy riffs and hard hitting drum beats. The next track, “Firebirds,” is a song with an unbelievably catchy chorus aided in no small part by Neil Fallon’s fantastic vocals. Fallon is arguably one of the most charismatic and talented frontmen in music right now, with his deep, bellowing vocals and imaginative lyrics. His singing gives every song on the record its own sense of character; its own unique feel. Clutch start showing off their blues influences on the track “A Quick Death in Texas.” The blues laden riffs give off an undeniable ZZ Top vibe, but at the same time guitarist Tim Sult manages to inject his own style into the mix, perfectly blending melodic soloing with just enough grittiness in the riffs to ensure that at the end of the day it still sounds like a Clutch song. Tracks like “Sucker for the Witch” and “Your Love is Incarceration” has bassist Dan Maines utilizing his skills by laying down some infectiously funky bass lines that work in flawless unison with Sult’s guitar work. Fallon’s aforementioned lyricism is front and center during these two tracks, with great lines such as “It goes against my Catholic upbringing, I admit it, I’m a sucker for the witch!” or “As to the charges of gettin’ it down, Hey! Before the court, how do you plead? As to the charges that are laid before me: I confess, I am guilty in the first degree!” that are prime material for the crowds to chant along with the first time these tracks are played live.

The album comes to a slow interlude with “Doom Saloon;” an atmospheric instrumental reminiscent of the western inspired tunes on Earth’s album Hex; or Printing in the Infernal Method. The instrumental flows seamlessly into the beautiful “Our Lady of Electric Light.” The track is almost melancholy sounding with its slow tempos and clean melodies, and showcases Fallon’s vocal range by having him hold back his usual booming hollers in exchange for a reserved, southern croon. The tempo soon gets back into overdrive however with “Noble Savage.” Definitely the fastest song on “Psychic Warfare,” the track has the band playing at top speed with Fallon belting out lyrics like the life of his almighty beard depended on it, Sult letting solo after solo come loose, and Jean Paul Gaster beating his drum kit like it owes him money. JP’s drumming is the final piece of the puzzle that makes Clutch who they are. His drumming manages to work in influences from the area’s past music scenes such as the speedy kick pedal work found in the DC hardcore scene, and the simple yet effective beats found in gogo music. The next two tracks “Behold the Colossus” and “Decapitation Blues” continue on with the same great quality found on previous songs, with plenty of groovy riffs and foot stomping beats continuing to drive the album forward. Finally the stage is set for the closing track “Son of Virginia.” Clocking in at seven minutes in length, it’s their second longest track ever, surpassed only by the twelve minute “Dragonfly” from their Elephant Riders album which was released back in 1998. “Son of Virginia” is definitely what one would call an epic; starting out with a clean, southern tinged guitar line working in unison with Fallon’s ever so powerful voice that soon builds up into a tumultuous cascade of riffs and deep bluesy bellows, leaving us with the parting words of the album repeated as if it were a form of mantra: “Truly we are living in an age of wonder.”

While I think this album falls a bit short of Earth Rocker in terms of overall memorability, Clutch’s newest output is still one of the best records I’ve heard all year, from a local band or otherwise. Whether you’re already a fellow Clutch fan or this is your first time hearing about them, I highly recommend this to you either way. I can say with absolute certainty that I’m going to have Psychic Warfare playing on repeat for a good amount of time. And then probably Clutch’s entire discography. Pick up Psychic Warfare and turn up those speakers, because you’re in for a damn good time.

Big Ass Recap Of Winter 2012 Concerts

Well it’s been a while since I’ve written a concert review on here. I’ve admittedly been a bit hesitant due to issues surrounding my last one. I didn’t stop going to see metal shows and in this post I hope to start getting caught up on these concert reviews. In fact, this is going to be part one of a three part series of mega concert recap posts that should have me kicking it into high gear. This one will review metal shows I went to in late November through the end of December of 2012. Part two will cover January 2013 and part three will cover February 2013. Concert reviews are fucking back baby! And of course you can click on any of the pictures below to see more of my photos from that band. Now, on to the recaps…

We’ll start with the High On Fire show all the way back on Black Friday, the 23rd of November at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC. The first band I saw that night was Primate, a grind band featuring Bill Kelliher of Mastodon on guitar and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth on vocals. They were ok as far as grind goes. The highlight of their set for me was their cover of Black Flag‘s Gimme Gimme Gimme. Next up was the death/black metal band Goatwhore from New Orleans. They’ve got some mosh friendly riffs and all but they’re pretty damn generic and I can’t think of one thing about their sound that is unique or distinctive. They’re an OK opener I guess but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. Headliner High On Fire, led by Matt Pike of Sleep fame, came out ready to play and just tore the place up. The show became a sweaty mosh pit and their dirty sludge tunes sounded killer this night. They ended their set with my favorite song, Snakes For The Divine. That song has such a catchy opening riff! This show was a great metal way to spend Black Friday.

Primate:

Goatwhore:

High On Fire:

A week later, on Friday, November 30th, I found myself at Casa Fiesta in Washington DC for a bit of a mish mash of a show. There were a couple of local hardcore bands opening that I didn’t see. The first band I got to see was Biipiigwan, a sort of blackened sludge band from Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. They were good and created an interesting yet energetic atmosphere. Next up was Sofy Major, a noise metal/hardcore band all the way from France. I really enjoyed their set. It was energetic and dirty and I thought the songs had a lot of variation. The last band to play that night was Midnight Eye, a local metal band with clean vocals, though the guitar wizardry is the true highlight of this band. They write some damn catchy riffs and combine it with some very proficient guitar playing. I heard some of their new material live for the first time at this show and it blew me away! I can’t wait to hear studio recordings of the new songs.

Biipiigwan:

Sofy Major:

Midnight Eye:

The next night, Saturday, December 1st, I was back at the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington DC’s H Street corridor. The first band I caught that night was Hour Of Penance. They’re basically Italy’s version of Behemoth. If you like Behemoth you’ll probably like them too. Not the most original band, but they were a pretty good opener for the brutal line up this show had. The next band to play was Maryland’s own Misery Index. Since they’re a local band I’ve seen them a ton of times, though unfortunately this was the worst performance I’ve seen from them. Misery Index’s frontman and bass player, Jason Netherton, was not on the tour because he had been working on something for his PhD. That absence caused Mark Kloeppel to take over on bass and handle most of the vocal duties as well. This really thinned out the band’s sound and while they gave it a good go, it just wasn’t up to par with crushing shows I’m used to from Misery Index. Headliner Cannibal Corpse never disappoints and while I’ve seen them too many times to count over the years I never get tired of the insanity of their live show. Their lead singer, Corpsegrinder, is basically the living embodiment of Nathan Explosion, vocalist of the fictitious band Dethklok on the Cartoon Network tv show Metalocalypse. Quite the charmer, he dedicated the song Priests Of Sodom to all the women in attendance who “take it up the ass.” Corpsegrinder always gets the moshing going and even called upon the Chicken Man to lead the pit at one point. And the pit was rough for this show, just like it should be at a death metal concert! At one point I saw some kid, maybe 10 years old, stumbling around the mosh pit looking for a hat he had dropped. I pulled him out of the pit and alerted security, nobody seemed to know where his parents were. The kid didn’t even have ear plugs. Parent Of The Year award goes to somebody for that night. Anyways, the show was great, they played a few newer songs but kept the set to mostly songs from throughout their history, ending with the usual Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped Raped And Strangled.

Hour Of Penance:

Misery Index:

Cannibal Corpse:

The following Thursday, the 6th of December, I drove up to Baltimore to see Vomitor and Negative Plane play at Golden West Cafe in Baltimore. It should be noted that Golden West Cafe has a good beer selection for beer snobs as well as some great food (with many vegetarian options) and their kitchen is open late. The first band to play was Extermination Angel, a thrash/death metal band from Baltimore. I had seen them before but it had been a while. They never wowed me in the past but apparently they’ve been practicing a lot because they really sounded better than I remember them being. I was impressed, and it’s always nice to see local acts improving over time like that. The next band to play was Negative Plane, a black metal band from New York City that has something of a surf rock vibe to their guitar riffs. They were really good live. Their unique sounding riffage kept them interesting throughout their entire set and I think I enjoyed them more than the headliner. Not that Vomitor was bad. They are from Brisbane in Queensland, Australia and have been a force in the obscure underground death metal scene for years. I felt very lucky to get a chance to see them play live. Their set was brutal and gross (as you’d expect from a band named Vomitor) but their songs don’t have a whole hell of a lot of variation and after a while you kind of knew what you were going to get from each song. Still, they really got the crowd going and they were definitely worth the drive up to Baltimore.

Negative Plane:

Vomitor:

The next night, Friday, December 7th, a day that will live in infamy, I headed over to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to catch The Faceless. When I got there the Haarp Machine was playing and it only took me about 10 seconds to realize this was not something I could sit through. I headed to the back “Alchemy Room” at the venue and waited for Revocation to play. They were worth the wait, as always. Boston based Revocation is such a damn good band live. Their songs are fun and jam packed with catchy riffs. They’re pretty fun to photograph as well because of all the goofy faces and poses various band members make while they play. The Faceless was the final band to play. They’re a pretty talented band that made a name for themselves with their very catchy tech death sound however they seem to be moving into a more progressive style, particularly on their latest album, Autotheism. They’re pretty complex and can take a few listens to fully digest what they’re doing. They’re a talented band and their songs are pretty deep, but I still think Revocation was the better live show.

Revocation:

The Faceless:

On the following night, Saturday, December 8th (third show in three nights for those who are counting) I headed out to The Lab in Alexandria. The Lab is a rec room for some church that is across the street. As such, there’s no food and definitely no booze there. Regardless, it is a decent sized space with a nice big stage. This night I went to see a DIY death metal show with all local bands. I missed the first band, Shotgun Surgery, but I am glad I caught the second. Annandale’s Gradius is a death/grind band that has been getting pretty good. The band is really starting to get tight and you can tell it is from a lot of practice. The next band to play was Short Bus Pile Up. They’re a gore obsessed death metal band with song titles like Urethral Myiasis, Fecal Matters, Gagging On Dick and Ball-Peen Beating. Their sound is as brutal as you would expect it to be. They came up from Fredericksburg, Virginia to play this show and they definitely brought it. In fact, for the third show in three nights, I again thought the direct support band was better than the final band to play that night. Visceral Disgorge headlined this show. They’re a death metal band from Baltimore that is along the lines of Aborted and Dying Fetus. That kind of slamcore death metal isn’t really my favorite style of metal as I feel it’s been really overdone at this point, but they weren’t bad at it. They did get the pit raging and people seemed to really enjoy it. Apparently two of the members of the band are leaving so hopefully they’ll find replacements and keep the band moving forward. In all it was a pretty killer DIY death metal show.

Gradius:

Short Bus Pile Up:

Visceral Disgorge:

It wasn’t until the following Saturday that I went to my next metal show. This time it was a DIY house show at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia. The place is tiny but I’ve seen some killer bands there so I can’t complain. A black metal band from New York/New Jersey named Black Table was coming down to play the basement at the Cellar Door. When I arrived I found out that two bands from Louisiana were added to the show at the last minute. Sweet, bonus metal! The first band I saw was Mailbomber. They’re a two piece sludge from upstate Louisiana and they were alright. A good start to the show but not the high point of the night. The next band to play was Solid Giant, a sort of stoner/doom band from New Orleans. They were more polished than the previous band and I really liked them. I hope they come around to a place with a better sound system some time, I’d really like to hear them on a proper stage. The next band to play was Black Table. They have a woman who does vocals as well as play guitar however I thought their drummer stole the show. He was really punching it and putting some real force behind those songs. They were a good show and definitely worth coming out to see. Gradius played at the end of the show but since it was getting late and I had just seen them the weekend before, on a real stage no less, I took off just a couple songs into their set.

Mailbomber:

Solid Giant:

Black Table:

Two days later, on Monday, December 17th, I was at DC9 in Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Royal Thunder. They’re a female fronted quartet from Atlanta that sort of straddles the line between rock and metal. I had seen them in October at the Pig Destroyer album release show in Baltimore, but they seemed an awkward fit on that bill. However this setting was much better for them and they really killed it that night. Their sound is sometimes dirty, sometimes bluesy, sometimes catchy, and always pretty damn fun to listen to. Also, I have a funny story about this show. A friend of mine, who doesn’t go to a lot of concerts, was at the show with me and had her jacket tied around her waist. While the band was mid-song we were standing in front of the merch table, which Royal Thunder always has decorated with tea candles. At one point I looked over at my friend and saw a stream of black smoke raising up behind her and I quickly realized she was on fire! I quickly alerted her to the situation and helped put her out. She wasn’t hurt but the jacket was ruined. Hilarious!

Royal Thunder:

The following night, Tuesday, December 18th, I went to Empire in Springfield, Virginia to see Battlecross play on the final night of their tour. The tour was supposed to have Abiotic on it also but they had dropped off at some point due to mechanical problems with their touring van. I missed the first local opener, Animas, but I did get there in time to see locals Yesterday’s Saints put on another good performance. They’re sort of a melodic death metal band with vocals that alternate between clean and harsh. Also, their drummer makes some of the funniest faces while he’s playing. They’ve got some really catchy songs they’ve been playing for a while but I’m definitely ready to hear their new studio material, it should be out soon I think. Battlecross is a thrash metal band from Detroit who has a lot of youthful energy on stage. They were pretty fun to watch, even with the crowd being pretty thin for this show they still put their all into their performance. You could tell these guys were having fun playing together. They’re signed to Metal Blade and I could see them on a tour in the future with some other up and coming thrash acts like Sylosis and Holy Grail.

Battlecross:

As you have seen above, at this point I’d been to a lot of smaller shows and by the time Xmas rolled around I was ready for a bigger show. So on Wednesday, December 26th I went back to Washington DC’s U Street Corridor to see Clutch play at the 9:30 Club. The show was sold out but I got there early to be sure I could see the legendary Wino perform his solo set. Yep, that Wino, the guy who fronts Saint Vitus and has been in a ton of other important doom bands. This show was different though, just him with an acoustic guitar and a microphone. His solo stuff is nothing fancy but it is personal music that is often very heavy in subject matter. I really like his album Adrift and it was great to see him play some of those songs live. Dave Sherman, a local musician who was in Spirit Caravan with Wino came out and performed a song with him to end the set. The next band to play was Saviours, from Oakland, California. I didn’t like them at all and I found their music to be extremely generic. Each song seemed like a rip off of another greater band’s style. One song sounded like The Sword, one like Motörhead, one like Black Sabbath, and so on. The crowd seemed to like it though. The next band to play was Mondo Generator, a band led by Nick Oliveri who is most noted for playing bass in Queens Of The Stone Age and Kyuss. They were alright however like most of the spin-off bands from Kyuss, it makes you wish you were actually listening to Kyuss. The place was packed by the time Clutch hit the stage. This was the first show of the tour to support their upcoming album, Earthrocker. As such they came out of the gate fired up and the audience loved it. They played several songs from the upcoming album and they blended in to the set list (see it here) seamlessly with the older classics they played. I particularly enjoyed hearing the new song DC Sound Attack being played to a full house in DC. In all it was a great show and I’m hoping for a similar experience at their show in Baltimore with Orange Goblin in April.

Wino:

Saviours:

Mondo Generator:

Clutch:

The final metal show for me of 2012 was seeing Black Clouds and Warchild play at the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street in Washington DC. Black Clouds played first, they’re a mostly instrumental three piece from DC. They’re an atmospheric and very dark band that is more rock than metal really. They have a cool light show setup and they’re the kind of band that sucks you in early keeps you entertained the whole show. Their final song has a recorded spoken word part that is read by Neil Fallon, frontman of Clutch, that ends up with him repeating “everything is not going to be ok” over and over like a broken record. Next up was DC’s wildest metal band, Warchild. These guys sound like Kill ‘Em All era Metallica and party harder than Municipal Waste. Their catchy riffs get the pit going early and their vocalist, Rory Sheridan, came out on stage in a full Santa costume. These guys can’t keep their clothes on though and soon enough the entire band was showing off their extensive tattoo work on their upper bodies. Santa had gifts for those in attendance and pulled people out of the audience to open individually gift wrapped beers that were immediately chugged on stage. Warchild is always a great band to see live and I don’t hesitate calling them the most fun of any local metal band to see live. I highly recommend going out of your way to see these guys play if you ever get the chance.

Black Clouds:

Warchild:

Well, that’s it for part one of my big ass recap of this winter’s metal concerts. Well, at least the ones I’ve been to. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I’m excited to get back into writing about all the great metal shows that happen in this area. Be sure to check back next week for a new ticket give away and hopefully part two of this winter concert recap series. Stay metal everyone and remember, support the scene that you’re a part of!

Interview with Neil Fallon of Clutch

Neil Fallon, frontman for the band Clutch, was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to do an interview over the phone. We covered a wide range of topics such as the band’s new album, Earth Rocker, how being in the DC area has influenced Clutch, beer and even the Newtown massacre. You can read the 13 minute interview below or you can download it as an 12mb MP3 file here or stream it from Soundcloud by clicking the orange play button below. My words are in bold. Enjoy!

Hi, this is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’m speaking with Neil Fallon the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for the Maryland based band Clutch. The band’s tenth studio album, Earth Rocker, is set to come out in March 2013. So my first question for you, Neil, is what can fans expect from the new album?

Well I think as a whole this record is probably faster than most of our recent albums. Maybe compared to some other bands it’s not the fastest thing on planet Earth. For us it was definitely a step up in the tempo. And I think the other thing that kind of stands out about this one is the blues influences that we’ve been flirting with over the past couple records is more or less absent in this record which didn’t really happen intentionally until we looked back at it. As a whole it’s just much more of a straight up rock and roll record.

Now do you have a specific date for the album release yet? I know it’s coming out in March. Do you know what day exactly?

Right now it is planned to come out March 19th.

Awesome. This will be the second studio release for Clutch on your own label, the Weathermaker Music label. Why exactly did you guys decide to ditch say a traditional label and instead create your own and put your own music out this way?

Well we’ve tried it many many times with many different iterations with labels and just to be frank about it the major labels are in the business of selling platinum records and even a gold record probably in their eyes is considered somewhat of a failure. Clutch is a band that, we’re happy to be a touring band and continue to do what we do but I don’t think we’re that band and we never were. But in the 90’s it did give us an opportunity to do a lot of touring, tour support and kick down a lot of doors that way to eventually put us in this position that we have now. And because of the internet and how easy it is to connect with people it’s very easy to cut out a lot of middle men and sell directly to the people that want to buy our records. It’s more work and you can make mistakes but if something goes wrong you know who to blame and it’s a lot easier to fix. And I think if any artist is in a position to do this, you know whether they be a writer or comedian or it doesn’t matter, you’d be foolish not to. Because it just makes more sense. I don’t see why you would subscribe to the kind of antiquated model of a major label. I think some people look at that as some kind of patron or home but we never certainly thought that way.

So has it changed the way you put your albums out, like the way you record it or anything like that as well?

Um, I don’t want to say it complicates it but we have to kind of wear both hats. You know on one hand we want to be the band and say well we want this amazing package. We want this to fold out. We want to do this, we want to do that. But at the same time we’re also the label and we’re looking, well that’s going to cost X amount of dollars, that’s going to cost Y. So we have to kind of find a happy compromise between those two. We certainly haven’t changed any of the writing aspect of it, or the recording. We haven’t tried to cut corners because of it. If anything it’s made our ability to do cool packages easier because it’s much more cost effective. But other than that not a lot has changed. It’s going very well.

Well you talk about the packages, you guys put out the Blast Tyrant, you re-released it with some bonus material and stuff. A whole nother disc actually. Are you planning on doing that with any of your other older albums in the future?

Well we’ve kind of exhausted that. Blast Tyrant and Robot Hive/Exodus and Beale Street were out on a label called DRT that was the last label we were signed to before we went out on our own. And to make a long story short they just stopped paying us our royalties and we had to go to court to get the money. We won the case but they still couldn’t pay us so in lieu of paying us what we were owed we were awarded those masters for those records. It was sort of a windfall to Weathermaker to get these three records back and we could re-release them. But the ones prior to that when you’re talking about Pure Rock Fury and Elephant Riders and the self titled, maybe in the distant future those records will revert back to us just because of the terms of the contract will expire. But that’s not on our to do list because trying to talk to Sony’s lawyers is like launching a spacecraft.

So no hope for an Elephant Riders vinyl any time soon?

No, sadly. That would be a great thing to do though but you never know. I mean, I think 25 years is going to come around quick for all those records. So, I’ll never say never but just not in the immediate future.

In September of 2011 you guys played a free acoustic show at the Red Palace in Washington, DC and I was there and it was pretty awesome getting to see you guys up close in a really personal setting like that. Do you ever miss playing venues that size or do you have any plans to play some smaller shows like that again any time soon?

I find at those smaller clubs the energy and intensity is much more concentrated. It seems easier to play a room like that than it would be a much larger room. Having said that, the 9:30 Club‘s pretty big but still has the character of being a small room in a lot of ways. When we go to Europe we play much smaller clubs there than we do here so they haven’t gone away. And playing acoustically is a good exercise because it’s a bit terrifying because you can hide behind distortion and you can hide behind gain but when you’re playing at a lower volume it’s a much more honest representation of what you’re doing. But it’s a good learning exercise.

Ok now that show was also a promotional tie in with the New Belgium Brewing‘s Clutch Dark Sour Ale. And it was a delicious beer but it was a very limited run. And I was wondering do you have any idea if they’re going to make any more batches of that or maybe you’re going to make another Clutch beer at some point down the road?

Well I would certainly hope they would entertain doing it again. I know somebody actually contacted them just a week ago and was trying to start up a petition to make that a regular brew over there, which we would be over the moon about if that was the case. But we don’t really have any say in it because it’s all New Belgium’s doing. We’ve got a lot of friends in breweries around the country [that] come to shows and drop off beer and if any one of their breweries wanted to do something like that I’m sure we would jump at it.

That’s awesome. I actually know a few guys at local breweries here in the DC area that are fans of yours as well.

Yeah we seem to have a lot of fans that work in the beer industry which is a good problem to have.

Yeah those are not bad friends to have.

No.

You guys played the Artscape in Baltimore this year. What did you think about the crowd there and the experience of the show there? I know that’s probably a different audience than what you’re used to. Did you feel you won some new fans there or maybe you were just playing to a bunch of soccer moms with their kids or how did you feel about that show?

I felt good about it. I mean I had that kind of trepidation beforehand cause I was looking around saying “Well this is a bit out of our element” but when it came time for us to play there was certainly a large contingent of Clutch fans there that came and helped support the band as they always do. It’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone. You can’t always preach to one’s own choir day in and day out. It was fun. It sounded good where we were at and the weather cooperated and it’s nice to do something like that, kind of a casual more stripped down family affair than let’s say your gnarly nightclub half past midnight.

Now you guys have a show coming up at the 9:30 Club on December 26th and it will be the first show of a short US tour here before you head over to Europe in 2013. You guys have played the 9:30 Club many times over the years. The last time I think was when you did the live DVD in 2009 that you shot there. Does performing there have any kind of special meaning to you guys?

Well I consider it my home club as far as when I want to go see bands play that’s where I might want to go see them. And we’ve been playing there for as long as the band’s existed and even when the 9:30 Club was at it’s former location. And I saw a lot of good shows there growing up even before I was in Clutch. It made a big impression on me. So that club’s near and dear to my heart and having been around the country to see what most night clubs are like I can safely say that we’re fortunate that we have this club because it really is one of the best in the country if not the world. To be able to call that our home club, if that’s the case, then even better. I have nothing but good things to say about the people that run that as well.

The first time I ever saw Clutch live it was at the 9:30 Club and that was in 1998 when you guys were playing with, I think Slayer headlined and the opener was an at the time unknown System Of A Down. Now those other two bands are considerably different than your sound. Do you remember anything interesting from that show or just the tour with those guys?

I remember that tour well because I got to watch Slayer every night. And we became friends with System Of A Down and I’d still consider them friends after all these years. They worked hard and you know have been enjoying the benefits of that labor. And Slayer, they were gentlemen. I’d heard stories about the Slayer crowd. I’d seen Slayer crowds before I went on tour with them but it was actually not nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be. That was an excellent tour. I had a good time on that one.

All four members of Clutch have been with the band since you guys formed in 1990. So I was kind of curious, what’s the secret to keeping a band together like that for so long?

A collective fear of getting day jobs is one. A sense of humor. I mean there’s been feast and famine but I think because we never talked about what kind of band we wanted to be we couldn’t really fail because we never set up a goal. And just a love of playing live music. I mean even if we were having troubles with the label or something was amiss in our camp we could always play live and I think if a band has that in their corner as part of their identity they can go as long as they see fit.

Alright now how did you guys actually settle on the name Clutch?

We were huge Prong fans and we liked the sound of the name Prong. We also we fans of a local band in DC called Swiz and we liked that name too. The mono syllabic thing I guess was really tickling our fancy at the time. And I know we’d intended to change the name at some point because we just kind of threw it on a flyer because we needed to and then maybe it was just a mixture of laziness or people started coming to our shows and we thought well it’s kind of too late to change the name, just keep it as it is. Who actually suggested it? I couldn’t tell you at this point. I know it was probably spoken about in the basement of Tim’s [Sult, lead guitarist of Clutch] parents’ house.

Now do you think being from Maryland and the greater DC area in general has influenced the sound of Clutch and the general direction of the band over the years?

I think we’ve been pretty fortunate to grow up here. Washington DC of course has a legendary music scene. Both harDCore and punk rock and metal, we listened to all those things growing up weather it was Bad Brains or Pentagram or Fugazi and Minor Threat. I know Jean-Paul [Gaster, drummer of Clutch] is a huge gogo fan and I think that’s informed his playing. And DC, you’re close enough to other cities you can go see shows outside your town but it’s not overrun so much like you find in New York and LA where you just get completely lost in the shuffle. It’s a manageable sized city. So I think that definitely played a big part in helping us out in the beginning.

So are there any bands from the greater you know DC, Baltimore and Virginia area that you’re a fan of right now?

Well let’s see here. Well we do quite a few shows with a local band from Wheaton called Lionize. Which they’re much more of a rock band. Initially they had a big reggae influence in their music but as they progressed they’re becoming much more of just a hard rock band. I’m a big fan of theirs. They’re good guys. Um let’s see who else? There’s another band called Black Clouds which is really good. I did some work with them not too long ago [specifically on their track Santorum Sunday School]. I know they play around. Those are the first two that come to mind immediately.

I’m actually going to see Black Clouds soon. They’re playing the Rock & Roll Hotel on December 29th.

Oh no kidding.

Yeah. With Warchild.

Oh dammit when I’m out of town, of course. That’s usually the way it goes.

Now there’s one thing that’s kind of been all over the news and stuff. In Newtown, Connecticut last week there were 20 children and seven adults who were murdered and I’m not asking for any kind of political statement here or anything but I was just kind of wondering if you had any kind of comment you’d want to make on that national tragedy.

Well I guess all those politics and things go right out the window for me because I’m a new parent. I have a two and a half year old son and just trying to even begin to relate what that must be like is impossible and in this day and age with the internet everybody’s got free advice on how to do things better. I just kind of opt to keeping my mouth shut and just letting this work its way out but like other people something’s got to give. I don’t think there’s any quick fix solution to it obviously but it’s no longer acceptable that that’s just a thing that happens here.

Well I know it’s kind of on a low note, but that’s for taking the time to speak with me here Neil. I know you’re hard at work mastering the album Earth Rocker right now and it’s pretty cool that you took the time out to let me speak with you for a minute and I can’t wait to see you guys play at the 9:30 Club on the 26th.

Yeah stop by and say hi if you have a moment.

I definitely will in fact I should be photographing you guys from the photo pit I think.

Ok, well I’ll see ya right there.

Keep an eye out for the guy in the Abraham Lincoln in King Diamond corpse paint shirt on cause that’ll be me.

Haha, alright that’ll be hard to miss.

Well thanks and have a good evening here and I’ll see you guys soon.

Alright, take it easy.

Have a good one.

Bye.

Clutch ticket give away

Clutch at the 9:30 Club

If you’ve been naughty and all you are getting from Santa is switches and coal then you’re in luck: Maryland’s hardest rockers, Clutch, are coming to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday the 26th of December! Since this is the season to be giving, DCHeavyMetal.com is going to give away a free pair of tickets to this very concert to a lucky one of you readers. To enter just leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me why you want to see Clutch at the 9:30 Club. Maybe you want to go because you’ve never seen them live or perhaps you want the chance to hear some new songs from their upcoming album Earth Rocker or maybe you just want a good excuse to get the hell away from visiting relatives. At 5pm EST on Friday, December 14th, 2012, the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from the winner in 24 hours then I’ll randomly pick another person to get the tickets. Please don’t enter if you cannot attend. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If the contest is over when you read this or you simply can’t wait to find out if you win the contest you can buy tickets from Ticket Fly for $29 here.

Most of you should be familiar with Clutch’s music even if you don’t have any of their albums. Their music has been featured all over the place (as evidenced here) such as during NFL football highlights on Fox, on the TV show the Walking Dead, in various movies and video games and the Vancouver Canucks even use one of their songs when celebrating a goal being scored! You can bet they’ll be playing a bunch of their classic songs at this show and if we’re lucky we’ll get to hear some new tracks from their upcoming album Earth Rocker as well. Mondo Generator is a band with close ties to Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age, and at various points has featured members of both of those bands. They should be a great support act for this show. Saviours comes from Oakland, California but they’re not an old school thrash throwback by any means. They play some rockin sludge metal and it should be awesome seeing them on the 9:30 Club’s big stage. And be sure to get there early because the opening act is the solo project of Wino, aka Scott Weinrich, who has been a main member of a few bands you may have heard of such as Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and Shrinebuilder. I hear that for this show Dave Sherman will be joining him as well so perhaps we’ll get to hear a couple of Spirit Caravan songs. Now listen to these classic tunes by the four bands playing while you leave a comment to enter the contest. Good luck everyone!

DC Metal Spotlight On Metal Underground

I was asked to write a guest post for one of my favorite metal news websites, MetalUnderground.com, and it went live on the site today. They have a weekly column called Unearthing The Metal Underground where each post explores a different area’s underground metal scene. They asked me to write the one about underground metal in Washington DC and let me pick three bands to go into detail about. I chose to write about Ilsa, Midnight Eye and Borracho for this post, however if the post gets a decent response they said they might let me write another about Northern Virginia or Baltimore or even another DC post. So feel free to leave a comment there or share it with people on Facebook or something if you enjoy it and maybe I’ll get to help expose more of our kick ass local acts to a national audience! You can read the post on Metal Underground here:

http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=72050

Also of note, I had one of my recent videos of Clutch playing a new song at the Red Palace posted on Blabbermouth.net on Saturday, you can check out that post here:

http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=163735

And one more thing, and it’s totally unrelated and is really just shameless promotion hardly related to my site, but some good friends of mine have been in a non-metal rock band for years and I have finally convinced them to play a live gig. I got them booked at the Velvet Lounge this Wednesday, the 28th of September and I certainly recommend checking them out. They hit the stage at 9pm, and are playing with the Megaphone Barons and Electric Grandmother (bands I admittedly don’t know much about). Again, they’re not metal but they are a damn good band, and they have three guitar players! You can check out the event’s Facebook page here but even if you can’t go feel free to check out the Garage Hoppers on Facebook here. Ok, I think that’s enough blatant non-metal promotion for one post. Stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Recap of Clutch and Suplecs gigs

On Sunday the 18th of September I had two shows I was trying to catch live. The first was a special free show that the Frederick, Maryland based band Clutch was holding at the Red Palace. This show was listed as a special five song acoustic set that was part of a promotional “release party” for their own beer, Clutch Dark Sour Ale, from New Belgium Brewing. The show was originally scheduled for Monday August 29th but it was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. This night everything seemed to work out ok though. The people from the Colorado based craft brewery, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, were mingling in the audience who had gathered. I have bought a few of the Clutch beers already, and they’re actually pretty damn good. They’re dark but with a sour taste that builds up the further you get into the 22 oz bottle, sort of like how some spicy foods’ heat builds up with the more of it you eat. It’s not a fruity sour though and is not actually very sweet at all (which I think is a good thing). I recommend trying it if you can find yourself a bottle. At this concert however, they were selling the bottles for $20! I still had a bottle in my fridge at home that I bought for $7.99 at Total Wine so there was no way I was going to fork out that much cash just to drink one at the Red Palace. Hell, even Clutch’s Neil Fallon said on stage that he was drinking a competitor’s beer.

Clutch at the Red Palace

The show started with the one of the guys from New Belgium Brewing taking the mic on stage and introducing the band as well as presenting them with the bottle that had serial number 10001110101. That’s the name of one of the songs on Clutch’s 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus. The guys then went into their setlist, starting off with and “acoustic” version of The Regulator. While guitarist Tim Sult played an acoustic guitar, they were all using pick ups, pedals and amps, so don’t think this performance was something like those old MTV Unplugged specials. What made the show cool was that the Red Palace only holds about 200 people, and Clutch is a band that usually plays much larger venues, they had just played at the HFStival the day before at Merriweather Post Pavilion. However this night the band played their five song set and pleased the crowd by having Tim plug in his regular guitar before playing a new song, apparently titled Newt. They played a few more songs, sort of a best hits style thing with songs covering their back catalog and ending with Elephant Riders. In all they played for about an hour and it was a fun show and a great chance to catch Clutch up close.

Clutch at the Red Palace

When Clutch had finished I didn’t linger around for too long since I had another show to catch at the Velvet Lounge. I made a stop at the 9:30 Club‘s basement bar for a quick bite to eat just before they closed their kitchen. Apparently they had some Mexican band playing upstairs named Molotov, but luckily the 9:30 Club has a separate door on the side of the building you can enter the bar at if you don’t want watch the show. The bartender down there was wearing a Clutch shirt and he said he was pissed he had to work that night because he had wanted to see the show at the Red Palace. Anyways, I had a nice panini and an organic oatmeal stout and then I walked around the corner to the Velvet Lounge.

The Velvet Lounge had a pretty sweet line up this evening. They haven’t been getting a lot of metal shows of note lately but this one definitely stood out on their calendar. The headliner was the New Orleans based sludge band Suplecs and they were touring with the Columbus, Ohio band Lo-Pan. Shows at the Velvet Lounge tend to run late but even so I missed the first band on the bill, Weed Is Weed from Maryland. The band has two former Spirit Caravan members in its ranks, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom. I hope to catch them another time. The first band I saw play at the Velvet Lounge that evening was Lo-Pan. I’ve never seen a band’s lead singer stand all the way to the back of the stage before. I mean way back, he was even behind the drummer. Despite their strange stage positions, they were pretty good live. They made for a good opener act on this kind of tour. They wrote their set list on pages torn out of some porno magazine, certainly the most graphic set list stationary of the night.

Lo-Pan at the Velvet Lounge

After Lo-Pan finished their set local act Nitroseed performed. Typically an instrumental band, they played several of their songs with lyrics at this show. I’d never seen them live before but I was very impressed, certainly worth checking out if you see them listed as an opener at an upcoming show. Also, it turns out their drummer, Phil Adler, also plays in the local doom band Wooly Mammoth. Their music had some good energy and they kept the momentum rolling forward throughout their set. They finished up and the last band of the night was next, Suplecs.

Nitroseed at the Velvet Lounge

Suplecs is from New Orleans and they mentioned many times between songs that they were excited to be playing in front of a DC audience as they were big fans of the DC doom metal scene. The band was good live, they had some high energy parts but also slowed it down for a few songs. Their songs really had a dynamic range to them that many sludge bands simply don’t have. This kept the show interesting and fresh throughout their set, which is a really good thing after watching three bands with a similar sound earlier in the evening. They mentioned that this was the first time they played their song Pissing In The Wind on the East Coast. They closed their set with a cover. After all their praise for DC’s metal scene I thought for sure they’d play a Pentagram or Spirit Caravan song, or something similar at least. Nope, they played Working Man by Rush. Totally out of left field if you ask me. It was ok but really didn’t seem to fit into their set that well. Regardless, I will definitely go see them again if they come through the area another time, and you should too!

Suplecs at the Velvet Lounge

If you’d like to see more images from the bands I saw that night you can see them on my Flickr page here. And be sure to check out all the videos below of Clutch, Nitroseed and Suplecs. The first four are Clutch. The first one is acoustic and the second is their new song. The last two videos are of Suplecs, the last of which is their Rush cover. Thanks to the guys in King Giant for the beers and thanks to you for reading all of this. Stay metal everyone!

Clutch acoustic:

Clutch’s new song:

Clutch with extended drum solo:

Clutch with guitar solo:

Nitroseed:

Suplecs:

Suplecs covering Rush: