Clutch Set Sept. 7 Release for Book of Bad Decisions; “Gimme the Keys” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

clutch (Photo by Dan Winters)-1400

All along in the recording process for their new album, Book of Bad Decisions, and particularly in a behind-the-scenes video series they’ve put out that you can see in its entirety on their website, Clutch have talked about capturing their live energy in working with producer Vance Powell and I think the newly-posted record-opener “Gimme the Keys” bears that out. No doubt the record has its ebbs and flows in terms of push — I don’t know if Clutch‘s listenership would let them put out an album without a blues song on it if they tried — but “Gimme the Keys” is a kick in the ass from start to finish and makes an excellent intro into what still has pro-shop studio clarity but maintains a stage-born vitality that’s as signature Clutch as Jean-Paul Gaster‘s drum fills. First taste? I dig.

You can dig too if you feel up for streaming the track at the bottom of this post. Album’s out Sept. 7 on Weathermaker Music; preorders up now. Details follow courtesy of the PR wire:

clutch book of bad decisions


Maryland rockers CLUTCH have announced Book of Bad Decisions as the title of their new studio album.

Book of Bad Decisions, CLUTCH’s 12th studio album is scheduled for a worldwide release on September 7th, 2018 via their own Weathermaker Music label.

The album was recorded at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN by producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) and consists of 15 new tracks.

“With Vance Powell as producer we were able to make a very different kind of an album. The songs feel as if they could jump out of the speakers!” says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. Bassist Dan Maines seconds that when he says “Recording in Nashville with Vance Powell gave us a new and fresh approach towards making an album that truly captures the live energy of Clutch in a way I don’t think we’ve done before.” Guitarist Tim Sult adds “Laying down guitar tracks with Vance was fun and inspiring. Going through and trying out his and his engineer, Mike Fahey’s collection of vintage amps was one of my favorite recording studio experiences. I think the outro solo of “Emily Dickinson” turned out particularly great.”

The album cover was designed by renowned photographer Dan Winters.

Book Of Bad Decisions track listing:
1. Gimme the Keys
2. Spirit of ’76
3. Book of Bad Decisions
4. How to Shake Hands
5. In Walks Barbarella
6. Vision Quest
7. Weird Times
8. Emily Dickinson
9. Sonic Counselor
10. A Good Fire
11. Ghoul Wrangler
12. HB Is in Control
13. Hot Bottom Feeder
14. Paper & Strife
15. Lorelei

The first single from Book of Bad Decisions is “Gimme the Keys” and will be released May 18th, 2018. The accompanying lyric video was created by David Brodsky.

The song is about the band’s first tour back in 1991, a time where they began to cut their teeth in the live music business, dealt with show cancellations and incidents on the road. One particular show in a shed surrounded by cornfields in Lawrence, Kansas ultimately turned ugly over a missing microphone and accusations brought by drunk and gun-toting security people at the end of a long day. “Gimme the keys they can keep the guarantee | Gimme the keys and get the hell out of dodge” is a reflection of the mood of that night.

Pre-ordering the new album Book of Bad Decisions starts May 18th at

This single is the first of four to be released over the next couple of months as an instant gratification track when pre-ordering the album at:

iTunes (
Amazon (

All album formats (CD, 24-page book with CD, 2xLP Standard Black, Limited Colored 2xLP, and 2xLP Picture Disc) will have the same 15 tracks. In addition Weathermaker Music will release two very limited 7” Picture Discs.

“I’ve never been one for nostalgia,” says Neil Fallon, “I’ve always shied away from it. But after 27 years of this, I realize that there is a wealth of stories to look back upon as lyrical fodder. As the saying goes, ‘You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.’ Not all the songs reference our collective experience as a band, but ‘Book of Bad Decisions’ seemed like an apt name for these various chapters, whether factual, fictitious, or somewhere in-between.”

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “Gimme the Keys”

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Friday Full-Length: Clutch, Blast Tyrant

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Clutch, Blast Tyrant (2004)

Some records have the songs. Some the sound or the production. Some are pure performance. With Blast Tyrant, it’s everything. There simply wasn’t a level on which it didn’t work. The previous two Clutch albums, 2001’s Pure Rock Fury and 1998’s The Elephant Riders — yes, I know 1999’s Jam Room was between them; I’m trying to make a point — had run a gamut of presentation for the band’s signature heavy, funky grooves. The Elephant Riders was smoothed out, with a radio-ready sheen (sadly, radio was in the process of collapsing at the time) to its fuzz that both Jam Room and Pure Rock Fury answered back by being rawer affairs entirely. Blast Tyrant, which marked the first collaboration between Clutch — vocalist Neil Fallon, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, bassist Dan Maines and guitarist Tim Sult — and producer Machine, as well as their first of three albums issued through DRT Entertainment, which was founded by, among others, Derek Shulman of classic prog rockers Gentle Giant.

That Blast Tyrant followed Pure Rock Fury is important, because at that point, and especially with the band’s departure from Atlantic Records, I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect from Clutch. They’d just gone from “The Soapmakers” to “American Sleep,” and somehow, they’d split the difference with songs like “Mercury,” “Profits of Doom” and “Cypress Grove.” Apart perhaps from their landmark 1995 self-titled, Blast Tyrant might be the most front-to-back album they’ve ever produced. Each song leads the listener into the next so perfectly, whether it’s “Mercury” at the outset or “Worm Drink” picking up from the more subdued vibe of “The Regulator” (still my favorite song to see them do live) and renewing the party atmosphere and momentum honed up to that point. Blast Tyrant wasn’t the moment Clutch came into their own, but it was the moment when, as a mature band both on stage and in the studio, they seemed to realize the full extent of their power. Clutch at Maxwell’s in Hoboken supporting Blast Tyrant? One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Hands down. Hands down.

And there’s no letup on Blast Tyrant. The album’s characters — “La Curandera,” “Worm Drink,” “Promoter (Of Earthbound Causes),” and so on — are hooks unto themselves, but “The Mob Goes Wild” made itself an immediate classic, and even later cuts like “Army of Bono,” “(In the Wake of) The Swollen Goat,” the quickie jam “Weathermaker” that would later become the name of Clutch‘s own label, Weathermaker Music, through which they’d start releasing albums with 2009’s Strange Cousins from the West, and the superfunk-heavy of “Subtle Hustle” — a hidden gem if ever there was one; one of the record’s most infectious hooks and they stuck it way down toward the end — or the acoustic-laced “Ghost.” Seriously, I feel like I could just go on naming tracks and let them simply argue for themselves — and they would, make no mistake. That’s the thing about Blast TyrantFallon had never been in such command as a frontman. His lyrics had always been a highlight of the band’s work, but lines like “Now who will toast our noble host who has this morning given up the ghost” seemed to show a new level of attention to detail. Likewise, Machine was able to capture a “bigger” Clutch sound than they’d ever had before, but it was still clear and nuanced. Each note from a Sult solo came through. The bounce in Maines‘ bass. Each pop in Gaster‘s snare. These things were treasures, both to established Clutch fans and those who came along to discover them later thanks to the band’s relentless touring.

It’s interesting that the second half of “(Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera” and jammy closer “Wysiwyg” — the latter more reminiscent of offshoot project The Bakerton Group — featured keys (as did others throughout), since by the time the band returned in 2005 with Robot Hive/Exodus (reissue review here), they’d have brought organist Mick Schauer on as a fifth member of the band, which he’d remain on the subsequent and likewise blues-informed From Beale Street to Oblivion in 2007, departing before Strange Cousins from the West. The three DRT albums — Blast TyrantRobot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street to Oblivion — were re-released by Weathermaker in 2011, with Blast Tyrant receiving the special attention of including the Basket of Eggs collection of acoustic reinterpretations and demo tracks for songs like “Cypress Grove” and “La Curandera.” Obviously, given the legacy Blast Tyrant had earned on the part of fans in the intervening seven years, that was special attention well earned, and it’s noteworthy too that when Clutch were looking to head in a different direction after Strange Cousins from the West, they returned to work with Machine on 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) and 2015’s Psychic Warfare.

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Clutch have a new record coming out later this year produced by Vance Powell (Jack White, Red Fang, etc.). Once again, no idea what to expect. Once again, no doubt it will kick ass. That’s pretty much how it goes.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It’s Friday, right? Probably should’ve asked that at the start.

Being that it’s Friday (I checked), I’m flying out to London tomorrow night. Not that that happens every weekend, just this one. I’m a week late for Desertfest, sadly, but I’m headed over because The Patient Mrs. is taking a group of undergrads on a study-abroad trip and The Pecan and I get to tag along. I’m already going to go see Elephant Tree at The Black Heart on the 16th — or, you know 16 May, as it were — but if anyone knows anything else I need to hit I’ll be there through the 22nd, so please drop a line.

So between baby and travel and baby and travel and baby and travel and baby and travel, I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be able to do each day. Of course I’ll make it as much as I possibly can, but even though I’ve been to London before, this is actually the first overseas airplane trip The Patient Mrs. and I have taken together since… (pauses to ask her)… at least nine. We’ve done more travel separate inside the US and out, but yeah, it’s been a while since we hopped a plane together and crossed the Atlantic. I think last time we were in London together, Blast Tyrant had just come out.

My notes for next week are pretty vague. More so than usual. But here’s what I’ve got so far:

Mon.: Amorphis review.
Tue.: Witch Mountain review.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Bong.
Thu.: Elephant Tree live review.
Fri.: Mr. Bison album stream.

Alright y’all, time to start doing laundry so I don’t go to the plane both with-a-baby and a foul-smelling mess. At least pretend I have it together for a little bit. You know how it goes.

Some potential news coming as regards August. And no, I don’t mean Psycho Las Vegas. I’m going to that. I’ve already said so. Something else.

Thanks for reading and please have a great and safe weekend. More Monday. Forum and Radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Clutch Announce Spring Tour with Red Fang, The Bronx & Fireball Ministry

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

One of these days — probably not today, but maybe tomorrow or the next day or the day after — Clutch are going to start putting out the details about their next album. I’m talking about things like the title, the songs that’ll be included, the cover art. It’s gonna happen. Hell, there might even be video. Mark my words, we’ll get there, and I’ve got a feeling once audio starts coming out from it, this one’s going to be a banger. After two records in a row with Machine at the helm, they’ve switched up producers and I wouldn’t be surprised if that as a significant effect on the outcome of the album as a whole. Clutch‘s studio work has always had that as a factor. Think of the differences in sound between Elephant Riders and Pure Rock Fury. Or Strange Cousins from the West and Earth Rocker.

Anyway, a new Clutch record is going to happen, and if you’re not stoked, get that way. The Maryland foursome just announced a quickie Midwestern run with The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry for the Spring. Maybe a warm-up for a larger tour? Maybe a lead-up to a second installment of their own festival? Maybe an album-release celebration? I have the feeling we don’t know all the details yet, but the PR wire brings what we’ve got to go on:

clutch tour dates


Clutch has just announced a string of Spring headline tour dates starting on April 27th in Chattanooga, TN. Supporting the tour will be The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry. Fan club pre-sale tickets will go on sale today, Tuesday, January 30th at 2:00 pm and will be available through Thursday, February 1st at 10:00 pm. Fan club tickets will be available at Password: fans1. Tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday, February 2nd at 10:00 am at local outlets as well as at and

The band is currently in the studio working on their new record with producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Old 97s, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Red Fang) at Sputnik Sound in Nashville.

Clutch, The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry Spring Tour Dates:
*Festival date
04-27-18 Chattanooga, TN The Signal
04-29-18 Jacksonville, FL Welcome To Rockville*
04-30-18 Athens, GA Georgia Theater
05-02-18 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
05-03-18 Birmingham, AL Iron City
05-04-18 Memphis, TN Beale Street Music Fest*
05-05-18 Lexington, KY Manchester Music Hall
05-06-18 Charlotte, NC Carolina Rebellion*

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “Electric Worry” Live at Starland Ballroom, Dec. 28, 2017

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Clutch Release Live at Googolplex Vinyl to Start Picture Disc Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

There was a while there when Clutch were putting out limited releases at an almost Melvinsian pace. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but offerings like Live at the Googolplex, Live in Flint, Michigan, and even Full Fathom Five are treasure troves of the band doing what they do best — kicking ass on stage. It’s the former that’s the occasion for this post, as Weathermaker Music has newly released a picture-disc version of Live at the Googolplex as the start of a three-record series that will continue with Jam Room and Pitchfork and Lost Needles before the end of the year. If you’re even a moderate Clutch collector — and no reason to not be, frankly — you don’t need me to tell you these will be gone if they aren’t already, so, you know, preorders and timeliness and whatnot.

Clutch hit the road next month with Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed. Dates and more info follow via the PR wire:

clutch live at the googolplex



Clutch and Weathermaker Music have prepared three very special Clutch limited edition vinyl collector picture discs. The first in the series, “Live At The Googolplex” [is available now].

Recorded in 2002 in Chicago, Montreal, Kansas City, and Columbus, OH. “Live At The Googolplex”, like all three releases in the series will be the first time these releases will be available as a picture disc vinyl.

The next two releases in the series will be “Jam Room” (scheduled for release October 27th, 2017) and “Pitchfork & Lost Needles” (scheduled for release November 24th, 2017).

“Weathermaker Music is releasing 3 limited edition picture discs” states frontman Neil Fallon. “The first will be Live at the Googolplex. That will be followed up by Jam Room and then Pitchfork and Lost Needles. All feature art from the original releases. For what it’s worth, I drew Medusa’s head for the Jam Room release. With a pen. And paper. This is your chance to own a bit of art history”.

All 3 in the series will be available at all major vinyl outlets and is available to pre-order now at

Clutch is set to embark on another leg of the Psychic Warfare World Tour 2017 starting November 29th, 2017 and running through December 31st, 2017. All tour and ticket info can be found at:

Clutch is currently in the throes of working on new material for a 2018 release.

Clutch, Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed Tour Dates:
Wed, 11-29-17 Greensboro, NC at Cone Denim Entertainment Center
Fri, 12-01-17 Myrtle Beach, SC at House Of Blues
Sat, 12-02-17 St Petersburg, FL at Jannus Live
Sun, 12-03-17 Fort Lauderdale, FL at Revolution
Tue, 12-05-17 Saint Augustine, FL at Backyard Stage @ St Augustine Amphitheatre
Wed, 12-06-17 Pensacola, FL at Vinyl Music Hall
Fri, 12-08-17 Baton Rouge, LA at Varsity Theatre
Sat, 12-09-17 San Antonio, TX at The Aztec Theatre
Sun, 12-10-17 Houston, TX at House Of Blues
Tues, 12-12-17 Springfield, MO at Gillioz Theatre
Wed, 12-13-17 Lincoln, NE at Bourbon Theatre
Fri, 12-15-17 Peoria, IL at Limelight Eventplex
Sat, 12-16-17 Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works
Wed, 12-27-17 Clifton Park, NY at Upstate Concert Hall
Thu, 12-28-17 Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
Fri, 12-29-17 Richmond, VA at The National
Sat, 12-30-17 Knoxville, TN at The International
Sun, 12-31-17 Columbus, OH at Express Live

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “Pure Rock Fury” from Live at the Googolplex (2003)

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Clutch Announce Winter Tour with The Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Few good times in life are as guaranteed as spending New Year’s Eve at a Clutch show. That’s just the way it is. The Maryland lords o’ groove will be in the company of fans in Columbus, Ohio, as well as in the company of The ObsessedClutch shows involving Wino also always open up the possibility of them doing “Red Horse Rainbow”; also good times — and The Devin Townsend Project. The latter would seem to be the odd man out on the bill, though I suspect there’s a good amount of crossover between audiences given Townsend‘s metallic roots fronting Strapping Young Lad and the general universality of Clutch‘s appeal. If nothing else, it’d be fun to watch Hevy Devy making fun of all the stoners in the crowd, which seems likely to be a regular theme for between-song banter at the shows.

His work of the last few years got more proggy-indulgent than really suited my tastes — pretty much since The Devin Townsend Band became The Devin Townsend Project; earlier outings Ocean Machine: Biomech, Terria, Infinity, Accelerated Evolution and Synchestra remain unfuckwithable in my opinion — but if you didn’t hear it, last year’s Transcedence was actually really good. Well worth chasing down.

One way or the other, cool tour. And as Clutch get ready in January to start recording their next album, it’s one more chance to get introduced to new material ahead of time.

From the PR wire:

clutch winter tour


Clutch has just announced Winter tour dates for the continuum of their Psychic Warfare tour. Supporting the tour will be Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed. Fan club pre-sale tickets will start at 2:00pm ET today, public stale starts 10am ET on Friday. Exclusive fan club pre-sale tickets and show info available here: The on sale date for the 4 Florida shows is TBD due to the hurricane in the region. Check the bands official website for all upcoming ticket and show info.

Clutch will be entering the studio in early 2018 to begin work on their 12th studio album.

Psychic Warfare is the latest and eleventh studio effort from Clutch. The disc debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, No. 2 on the Billboard Independent, No. 1 on the Billboard Hard Rock and Billboard Rock charts. Psychic Warfare was produced by longtime producer Machine (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die).

Clutch, Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed Tour Dates:

Wed, 11-29-17 Greensboro, NC at Cone Denim Entertainment Center
Fri, 12-01-17 Myrtle Beach, SC at House Of Blues
Sat, 12-02-17 St Petersburg, FL at Jannus Live
Sun, 12-03-17 Fort Lauderdale, FL at Revolution
Tue, 12-05-17 Saint Augustine, FL at Backyard Stage @ St Augustine Amphitheatre
Wed, 12-06-17 Pensacola, FL at Vinyl Music Hall
Fri, 12-08-17 Baton Rouge, LA at Varsity Theatre
Sat, 12-09-17 San Antonio, TX at The Aztec Theatre
Sun, 12-10-17 Houston, TX at House Of Blues
Tues, 12-12-17 Springfield, MO at Gillioz Theatre
Wed, 12-13-17 Lincoln, NE at Bourbon Theatre
Fri, 12-15-17 Peoria, IL at Limelight Eventplex
Sat, 12-16-17 Nashville, TN at Marathon Music Works
Wed, 12-27-17 Clifton Park, NY at Upstate Concert Hall
Thu, 12-28-17 Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
Fri, 12-29-17 Richmond, VA at The National
Sat, 12-30-17 Knoxville, TN at The International
Sun, 12-31-17 Columbus, OH at Express Live

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “A Quick Death in Texas” official video

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Live Review: Primus and Clutch in Boston, 07.23.17

Posted in Reviews on July 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

primus photo jj koczan

Primus and Clutch both played new material. Their tour together hit Boston’s let’s-make-this-all-artisanal-condos waterfront on a breezy Sunday night and the semi-open-air venue Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, with its sprawling white canvas over top, seats, high stage and crisp sound, was a suitable enough place to host them, if somewhat staid in a corporate-venue kind of way.

The crowd? Awesome. An eclectic mix of rockers, hippies, headbangers, couples, young and old. Parents were there with their kids — saw a dad and his son in matching Clutch work shirts, Grateful Dead tye-dye, the usual local-fahkin’-spoahts-khed logos representing, along with t-shirts for Inquisition, Slayer, a Meshuggah hoodie and so on. One dude brought his blankie and wrapped himself in it, another had hippie Hammerpants tucked into his Doc Martens because it’s 1994 all over again and not one fucking moment too soon. Brilliant vibe. Amazing to see all these people agree they were in the right pace.

And to be sure, they were. Early start with Clutch on at 7:45, but that worked for my old ass just fine. I had The Patient Mrs. along, and therefore The Pecan as well — he goes where she goes, what with that whole in-the-womb thing and whatnot — and was counting this as my son’s first rock show. He could hardly ask for a better warm-up gig to, you know, life.

The tour started July 17 and this was show number six, so Clutch were on form but still plainly getting settled in. The long-running Marylander foursome of vocalist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster are now two years removed from their most recent album, Psychic Warfare (review here), and though the set featured several cuts from that record — “Firebirds!,” “Noble Savage,” “Sucker for the Witch,” “A Quick Death in Texas” and “X-Ray Visions” — they seemed ready to move forward. From the stage, Fallon said their plan was to record in January and before they launched into the new song “How to Shake Hands,” he noted, “You don’t know the material, I don’t know the material,” which got a good chuckle out of the assembled masses. Then, of course, he and the whole band completely killed it.

Because that’s what Clutch do. At this point in their career, fans know what they’re getting when they show up to a Clutch gig, and while it was somewhat odd to see them opening for another act instead of headlining, and that showed itself in some of the tempos they worked with — that was easily the fastest incarnation of “Spacegrass” I’ve ever witnessed; it was like it was playing on 45RPM — their presence and their delivery are undeniable. Opening with “Cyborg Bette” and “Crucial Velocity” from 2013’s most righteous Earth Rocker (review here), they wanted nothing for momentum, and while speed would be the order of their time onstage, as emphasized with a one-two punch of Earth Rocker‘s title-track and “Noble Savage,” both proselytizing the same message of rock-liferdom, they wanted nothing for groove.

Along with the aforementioned “Spacegrass,” which always feels like something special when they break it out, “Escape from the Prison Planet” from 1995’s landmark self-titled was well placed in a multi-song nod to older-school fans — there were a few on hand, to be sure — that was excellently interrupted by a rendition of “D.C. Sound Attack” that snuck in a cowbell-laden jam at the end like it was sliding numbers facedown across a table: smooth and casual. “Passive Restraints,” which followed, might have pushed it on going way back, but you won’t hear me complain.

Fallon demands and rightly gets a lot of the focus in the band, and Sult‘s funk-infused riffing is second to none, but what an absolute joy it was to watch Maines and Gaster in the rhythm section. They don’t even have to look at each other. I don’t know if it’s possible to call them underrated, since Clutch has reaped plenty of acclaim in their time, but they might be anyway, and with Les Claypool and Tim Alexander in Primus still to follow, the evening-with wasn’t short on quality rhythm sections. Kind of the running theme of the night. But still. Whether it was “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Profits of Doom” early in the set or the tight transitions in “Electric Worry” near the end, they were on point to a frightening degree, and even a little flub in “Escape from the Prison Planet” became all-part-of-the-show-folks. The kind of bass and drums you would watch all night, even if there were no guitar and vocals to go with them.

So what about that new song? Well, despite Fallon‘s saying otherwise, they’ve been playing the politically-themed “How to Shake Hands” for at least a couple months now, and they all seemed to know it pretty well. Some of the lyrics felt tentative — a bridge about being born to be president reused the word “born” in a way that felt awkward and one expects will be revised before the track is final — but there was zero screwing with the hook:

“First thing I’m gonna do is go for ride in a UFO
Put Jimi Hendrix on the 20 dollar bill and Bill Hicks on a five note
Hot damn, the democratic process — what a time to be alive
I’m ready to give the people what they want
And what they want is straight talk, and no jive”

Needless to say, it was stuck in the head of all parties involved by its second runthrough in the relatively short, upbeat song. One to look forward to, to be sure. They’ve also been playing a song called “We Love a Good Fire,” but it wasn’t aired in Boston. Instead, they placed “X-Ray Visions” in the spot usually reserved for “One-Eyed Dollar” coming directly out of “Electric Worry.” A bit of a bumpy transition there, but credit to them for changing that up anyhow after years of doing it the other way. It was dark out by the time they were done, and Boston — hopped up as ever on lobster, beers and Chris Sale’s strikeout total for the season — was no less raucous than they might’ve been otherwise for it being Sunday.

I suspect my narrative as regards Primus is like many who showed up to see them. I’ve been a fan since I was 10 years old. I’ll be 36 in a couple months. One of the first CDs I ever owned was 1991’s Sailing the Seas of Cheese and I still have both that copy and my cassette and beat-to-crap digipak version of 1993’s Pork Soda as well. I remember staying up late to watch the video of “Mr. Krinkle” on Headbanger’s Ball — because Primus were no less unclassifiable by MTV back then than they are by anyone now — to the point that when they played it with the clip playing on the backing screens behind them, I had flashbacks. It had been more than a decade since the last time I saw them; I still knew “Sgt. Baker” by heart.

My central question going into their set was how jammed out it would be. Les ClaypoolTim Alexander and guitarist Larry LaLonde are gods to the jam-band contingent, and since Primus came back with the 2003 Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People EP — and really before that with Claypool side-projects like Colonel Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog BrigadeOysterheadColonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains, as well as the more recent The Claypool Lennon Delirium and Duo de Twang — they’ve very much worked toward that audience. Still, in partnering with Clutch for this tour, the weirdo stalwarts were embracing an entirely different crowd, so would they expand their songs with improv or cut back toward a more straightforward delivery?

I’ve long been of the conviction that if the language of “heavy rock” had existed at the time Primus were commercially flourishing in the way it does now, they never would’ve even been considered a heavy metal band. They never were one; even at their heaviest and despite LaLonde‘s roots playing in Possessed, they didn’t have the aggression behind the slapped-string punch of Claypool‘s bass or Alexander‘s drumming to be metal. Nor, I think, did they ever want to be. “Heavy rock,” as a concept, is more of a catch-all, and while I think it undersells both the unique nature of their approach and its progressive aspects, the path of their career and their turn toward jam-band affiliations might’ve worked out much differently had they not been so wrongly tagged for so long.

Was I thinking about this at the show? A little bit. They opened with a medley of “Too Many Puppies” sandwiched around “Sgt. Baker” before going into “Last Salmon Man,” which was a highlight of 2011’s Green Naugahyde, so a somewhat less jammy start had me thinking early they’d keep to basic structures, but as they moved through the 1995 mega-single “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” and “Southbound Pachyderm” — also from that year’s Tales from the Punchbowl — they began to unfold more of an open mood, and that would continue to flourish through a drum solo by Alexander that filled time while Claypool swapped to a stand-up bass to lead through Primus‘ take on “Candyman” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a film the entire soundtrack of which the band took on in 2014 on Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble.

That was probably the only moment of their set that left me cold, but I was in a clear minority in that regard. The druggy overtones were laid on thick and I guess if that’s your thing, fair enough, but as soon as I saw Claypool in his pig mask, I was waiting for “Mr. Krinkle,” and that came next, followed by “The Toys Go Winding Down” and the new song listed as “Seven,” which will reportedly be the title-track of their impending ninth album to be recorded sometime after this tour, presumably for release in 2018. By way of stating the obvious and offering the most critical insight one might hope to conjure as regards Primus more than 30 years on from their first getting together, I’ll say it sounded like Primus. That should be considered high praise as well.

A mellow and bizarro deep-dive followed with “On the Tweek Again” and “Mrs. Blaileen,” both again from Tales from the Punchbowl, but the Pork Soda monument “My Name is Mud” brought everyone back to ground and as the three-piece extended the jabs at the end before launching into “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” from Sailing the Seas of Cheese — another delightfully creepy video to remember while it played behind them — it was obvious they were coming around to the finale. And at that point, fair enough. They’d jammed, they’d rocked, they’d spaced out, been heavy, showed off a new song, gone obscure and dug into classics, all the while offering unparalleled performance and personality from the stage. Fucking Primus. They do not, contrary to any and all sloganeering otherwise, suck.

The residual high-school-stoner in me delighted in the nod to 1997’s Brown Album that came in “Golden Boy,” which started a three-song encore that rounded out with “Mr. Knowitall” — he is so eloquent; perfection is his middle name and… whatever rhymes with “eloquent” — and the march of “Here Come the Bastards,” Claypool taking the opportunity work in some last-minute shred in a bass solo before they finished out a couple minutes ahead of what was likely an 11PM curfew and the lights came up. People had been quite literally dancing in the aisles, a kind of friendly mosh took shape a few rows back, dudes jumping up and down and bumping into each other rather than throwing punches or kicks.

All in good fun, in other words — and that was the emergent spirit of the night. During either Clutch or Primus, one couldn’t help but smile at the proceedings, the surroundings, the weather, whatever. It all worked excellently and the two bands fed off each other’s strengths in a manner that, even thinking “hell yeah, this is gonna be a great show” beforehand, was a surprise. I expect as this tour rolls on for the better part of the next month, that complementary aspect is only going to grow more prevalent, and right on. If only they’d made a t-shirt with both logos. I’d have been all over it, and maybe even gotten one for my unborn son to grow into as well. Next time.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Clutch Working on New Album; Headlining Dates and Festival Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

So what are Clutch up to? A little bit of writing? A little bit of touring? Maybe hosting their own festival? All of the above, as it turns out. The ever-industrious Marylander groovemasters have announced a headlining run for May, starting in Asheville, North Carolina, and ending in Inwood, West Virginia, where they’ll host the first-ever Earth Rocker Festival. Lineup still forthcoming on that, but I’m of course curious to see who’ll be added to the bill and will do my best to keep an eye on it as we get closer.

In the meantime, vocalist Neil Fallon also states below that the band has started to put together material for a follow-up to 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here). He seems pretty realistic when he says it’ll more likely be a 2018 release — that’s about on pace; an album every three years, tour the hell out of it between — but it’s interesting to note the producer is TBA. Their last two outings were helmed by Machine, who also handled 2004’s Blast Tyrant, so more intrigue there as to whether they’ll go back to him or wind up working with someone else. Seems like we’ve got a while before we find out on that one.

The PR wire brings us up to speed:

clutch may 2017 tour


Clutch has just announced a string of headline tour dates for May. Supporting the tour will be Lucero and The Sword. The band is also pleased to announce their first annual Earth Rocker Festival at Shiley Acres in Inwood, WV on May 20th. Full line-up to be announced soon. Pre-sale tickets will start at 10am ET Wednesday, public stale starts 10am ET on Friday.

Ticket info available here:

“We did a whole bunch of touring in 2016” states the band’s front man Neil Fallon. “Right now, we’re cooling our heels and starting to kick around some riffs for the next record. We hope to be recording the LP come the end of the year. Where and with whom is yet TBD. At the moment though, we’re really just at the beginning phase of writing and we already have a surplus of ideas.”

“In other news, this Spring we will be hosting the first annual Earth Rocker Festival. It’ll take place in Shiley Acres, West Virginia. We played at Shiley Acres last year and it was a real blast. Our intent is to have a really diverse bill. If all goes as planned, Earth Rocker Festival will continue as an annual event, hopefully growing in scope over the years.”

On Record Store Day this past April 16th Clutch released a limited edition numbered etched vinyl 12 inch that included two previously unreleased tracks from the Psychic Warfare sessions: “Mad Sidewinder” and “Outland Special Clearance”. Psychic Warfare was produced by longtime producer Machine (Lamb Of God, Every Time I Die).

Clutch, Lucero and The Sword May Tour Dates:

05-10-17 in Asheville, NC at Highland Brewing Company
05-12-17 in Louisville, KY at Palace Theatre
05-13-17 in Grand Rapids, MI at 20 Monroe Live
05-15-17 in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Steel
05-16-17 in Providence, RI at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
05-17-17 in Port Chester, NY at The Capitol Theatre
05-19-17 in Norfolk, VA at The NorVa
05-20-17 in Inwood, WV at “Earth Rocker Festival” at Shiley Acres

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “A Quick Death in Texas” official video

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Clutch Announce Vinyl Repress for La Curandera Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

As Clutch continue their tour in support of last year’s Psychic Warfare (review here), the stalwart Maryland four-piece has announced a vinyl repress for their 2015 compilation La Curandera. The LP, which takes its name from a track from the band’s 2004 landmark outing, Blast Tyrant — their first collaboration with producer Machine, with whom they’ve now worked three times — first came out last year on a pink platter to help promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and features songs highlighting strong women characters from throughout Clutch‘s catalog.

The repress is available now, as the PR wire informs:



Clutch has just released its compilation album La Curandera on black vinyl today. La Curandera was originally released on Sept. 29, 2015 in a limited, pink vinyl edition for RED’s Ten Bands One Cause campaign to celebrate breast cancer awareness month. Due to continued demand, Weathermaker Music decided to re-release this album at this time on black vinyl.

La Curandera is a compilation of 8 tracks from Clutch’s vast catalog of songs.

“The track listing features characters that can only be described as formidable female protagonists” states front man Neil Fallon. “And to put this project over the top we are lucky to have the cooperation of world renowned illustrator Becky Cloonan who created brand new artwork fitting this cause.”

Side A
Track 1 Cypress Grove
Track 2 La Curandera
Track 3 Black Umbrella
Track 4 Struck Down
Side B
Track 5 Cyborg Bette
Track 6 Night Hag
Track 7 Oh, Isabella
Track 8 The Dragonfly (live)

Clutch continues their Psychic Warfare World Tour 2016. The band are headlining tour dates this month with Zakk Sabbath and Los Angeles based metal band Kyng. Including 2 festival appearances, the trek continues tonight in Raleigh, NC at Lincoln Theater Street Stage and conclude in Worcester, MA at The Palladium on October 30th.

Clutch Tour Dates
Clutch, Zakk Sabbath, Kyng 2016 Tour Dates:
10/11 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
10/12 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
10/14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
10/15 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
10/16 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
10/18 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
10/20 – Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
10/21 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/22 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
10/24 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note ** NO Zakk Sabbath
10/25 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
10/27 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theater
10/28 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
10/29 – Clifton Park, NY @Upstate Concert Hall
10/30 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “La Curandera”

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