Earlier this year I found myself standing in the photo pit of Rochester’s Dome Arena going absolutely crazy watching Clutch perform. I couldn’t believe the energy and intensity of a band that has been going strong since 1991. I knew I needed to find out more about one of my all time favorite bands, so I reached out to Guitarist Tim Sult to pick his brain on the history of Clutch and what the future holds for one of the best bands in Rock music today.
How’s the tour going so far?
Tim – So far so good. We’ve only had one show so far, so it was kind of a little bit of a warm up. But it was great.
You guys have been around for a long time. With Countless tours, Do you ever feel like there are off nights? Or every time you go on stage you just become energized regardless of how you’re feeling?
Tim- Well, I mean, I probably am a little more critical on myself personally. Than maybe other people in the audience would actually notice. You know, if I miss a note or something that no one can even hear, it’ll get me down a little bit. Even though after 25 years I realized it really truly doesn’t matter. But you know, every once in awhile, I’ll feel like it’s not our best show ever. But you know, some nights it’s the BEST SHOW EVER. It’s really all about the crowd and the crowd having fun. You know? It doesn’t really matter if we’re playing sloppy or playing great. It’s all about the crowd enjoying the music really.
Is there a particular show in your mind through your career that you think is the best show you ever played? Some that after you were like “Wow, that was awesome!”
Tim – There’s been a few of them. We did a really, really small show the first time we ever did a headlining show in Copenhagen, Denmark. We played a super small show. I don’t remember how many people were there. Probably somewhere between 10 and 30 people. I remember that show. It still sticks in my head as being particularly awesome. Every time we play Hellfest in France, the metal fest they have in France, it’s for some reason, those shows are absolutely mind blowingly great. Yeah. Those were probably my, that sticks out in my head off the top of my head, best memories.
Are the fans crazier in Europe than they are in the United States? Or is it just like it just depends on the venues really?
Tim- Yeah. I mean, I don’t think they’re necessarily crazier over there or over here. You know, as we get older, a lot of our fans get older. They have no interest in coming to a concert and going in the pit, or trying to stage dive or anything like that. They just want to sit there and watch the music and listen to the music. Yeah, I would say over the years our shows just in general have gotten way more mellow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Mellow as far as like the pit goes and people trying to stage dive and moshing and acting stupid. You know?
I remember I saw you guys with Primus this past year in Rochester. You were amazing! I thought how high energy your show was, because, previously had never got the chance to see you guys live. But I saw you and I just thought to myself, “How can they keep this energy up for so long?” How do you still feel charged up? The crowd was going crazy too!
Tim – I had absolutely no idea that Rochester had such an awesome venue. That was my first time ever going there. But yeah, I mean, for us really, it’s just all about trying to write new music and look forward to the next tour or the next recording. You know, we’re actually all pretty mellow guys. I don’t know how our music comes out sounding so high energy, but it certainly does. I don’t really know how to explain that too much, but I think we just keep up the energy and the desire to want to be here and want to do this by just trying to remain creative. You know? You know, try to play a little bit of a different set list every night. Make everything a little bit different. Play some more improvisational jam sessions during the set. That always keeps things interesting for us. Quite honestly, the longer the band goes, the more easy it seems to get.
Do you find that in your songwriting? I mean do you guys usually just jam together as a band for awhile? Or does somebody come and say “Hey I got this idea that I kind of have. Do you guys want to try to do it?”
Tim – Yes. It’s all those things. You know, everyone in the band has ideas for songs. Everyone in the band comes in with ideas for songs. We also just get together and jam out ideas as well. You know, squash out new ideas together. That’s also another big part of why we’ve been able to go so long is because we’re all equally artistically invested in the band. You know? It’s not like it’s just one person’s project that a couple other guys are going along with for a couple years and then are going to leave and go do something else.
Have you ever had a song or something that you really were pushing, but it kind of got voted down by the rest of the guys?
Tim- Nope. Never.
Tim- We’re pretty much all on the same page as far as that goes. Once we get the songs done, you know we never really … I mean, if there’s an idea that we can tell is really not the best idea for a song ever. It’s just not really happening, we dump it immediately. We just dump it immediately. We, since the beginning of this year, we’ve been getting together and working on songs for the new album. I would guess that we probably only used like 10 to 20% of the ideas that we actually lay down at this point. Yeah. It’s great, because we have a great rehearsal stage. We have time to get together and jam. It seems like with the writing process for this album, we’ve actually, we’ve managed to come up with more ideas than we’ve ever had for any other album.We’re whittling that down. Finalizing that up right now. Getting it down to whatever 14, 15 solid songs. Yeah. That’s really what keeps us going, is just continue to write new music.
I think I’ve read that next year you are definitely planning on the new album right?
Tim – That is correct. We’re going into the studio on January 3rd to start the recording process.
When you guys are out on tour with other bands and playing shows with them every night, do you guys ever draw inspiration from each other? I mean, there’s obviously collaborations that can occur and things, but has there ever been a time where you were like “I really would like to do a project with that musician.” Or, “I’d really like them to do something with us.”
Tim – No Not really, we play with so many bands. I mean, at one point, do you know Wino? He’s the guitarist of The Obsessed who is the opening band on this tour actually. We had him come in and play a couple songs. I think just one actually ended up on the album on our album “Pure Rock Fury”. He plays one or two songs on that. Also on that album, we guested with Leslie West from Mountain. If you know that old seventies band, They did Mississippi Queen. Do you know that song?
Yes, of course
Tim – He co wrote a song called Immortal. Okay, also … We did, we have an instrumental band that we do sometimes called The Bakerton Group. Actually this is the only person we ever met on tour that we brought into the band. On the Sounds of the Underground Tour, not only was Strapping Young Lad on there, Opeth was on there also.We became good friends with their keyboard player. He actually joined our project that we had going called The Bakerton Group. He plays on the album El Rojo, which was I guess technically the second Bakerton Group album and last one that we put out in 2008 I believe. There you go. That’s the answer to your question right there. We met him on tour, brought him into the band. He’s actually played several shows with Clutch in Europe as well too.
Are there any bands out there that you absolutely love touring with?
Tim – That I love touring with? Well, we’ve done a lot of shows with Corrosion of Conformity. I just like those guys personally and I love their music so much. I love touring with them. This band Lionize that we tried to help out a lot back a few years ago. I loved touring with those guys. Cool. Those guys are, they’re definitely dedicated. They have been out there doing it for years and years and years now. They’re just finally starting to be able to do some super cool stuff on their own.
I’m really definitely looking forward to seeing you guys in December at Upstate Music Hall with Devin Townsend.
Tim- Oh yeah. You can’t go wrong up there. I’m sure it’ll be somewhere around 14 below, but other than that-
Ha! Yeah. Most likely.
Do you enjoy playing shows in Central and Upstate NY? Or do you prefer bigger markets like NYC or Boston?
Tim – Well, I mean, you know Clutch has always been a band that goes and plays smaller towns. I think that’s really helped us out a lot. I mean, the fact that we were going to Albany, Rochester, Buffalo back in the early days and not having the biggest shows ever. But they were always all right. We never really had a problem with New York itself. I personally live in West Virginia, so it reminds me a lot of West Virginia but without the Southern accent.Every show we’ve ever done up in Albany has been awesome. We definitely did some early shows back around Albany, Syracuse area that were very violent. It was very violent back in the nineties for sure. But it seems to have mellowed out. I like the fact that there’s less violence at our shows nowadays.
Alright, that about does it with my questions. Thank you so much for your time man.
Tim- Awesome. Thanks for having me.
You can catch Clutch on Tour with Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed at the following dates:
For more on Clutch check out: