Clutch: Interview with Neil Fallon

FLmetal was lucky enough to score an interview with Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon, we sat down together to discuss the latest DVD / CD release "Full Fathom Five: Video/Audio Field Recordings" which the band is currently on tour supporting. Being a complete Do-It-Yourself band, these guys are a testament to how hard work and determination can eventually pay off. Bands, get our your pencils and take notes!

Riding the Clutch

Matt: You guys are currently out supporting your new DVD release “Full Fathom Five: Video Field Recordings”, isn’t it a bit strange for a band to be touring in support of a DVD?
Neil: The fact of the matter is that even if the DVD hadn’t been released we would probably be out on tour anyway, everything sort of lined up all at the same time. We’re going out playing shows regardless of wether or not we have albums out or not, so I guess, since we put the DVD out it was something kinda cool to do. This will likely be the last extensive U.S. tour we are going to do for quite some time. After this tour we’re going to hole up at home for a while.
MW: You guys have been relentless on the road throughout the years, I’m assuming you guys probably need a break?
Neil: Yeah, I mean look at that guy! (pointing to a TV screen with Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones) We love performing live, but there also comes a time when you have to step back and evaluate where you are at. I also find it really hard to write while we are on the road, I enjoy writing in my basement at 1:00 in the morning.
MW: About the "Weathermaker" label you guys created to distribute the new DVD and CD; I imagine this has got to be an exciting experience for the band being the "creators of your own demise" so-to-speak?
Neil: Yeah! Maybe we’re setting ourselves up for disaster!? You know we’ve put out on our own label per-say, but it was just kind of a name, sell it on the internet kind of thing. This time around we actually have a paid staff working for us and a contract with the distributor. We initially planned to have a much more extensive launch, but we had a huge hiccup with our former label DRT (which the band is currently involved in a lawsuit with). It looks like things are starting to settle down and we will be able to advance in the way we’ve been meaning to. Things have just been delayed for about 5 months. The thing is with "Weathermaker" is that we have no interest in signing any other bands because we don’t want to be the guys on the other side of the desk. In this day and age, it’s easy to cut out the middle man because of the internet. It used to be hard, because you’d have to know a bunch of people. These days you could communicate with a distributor in Germany right now.
MW: Was it easy for you guys to hook up with distribution? For a lot of young labels that can be a really big hurtle.
Neil: It wasn’t hard for us because I think distributors know how many records CLUTCH is going to sell. We don’t say "Hey guys our next record is going to be platinum"! We know that’s not going to happen, but we do know that we are going to sell "x" amount of records, and they can make plans accordingly. If it’s an honest business plan you can still make it work for everybody. Record labels are always kinda hedging their bets to sign 10 bands, 9 of which the label will drop because the 10th band went multi-platinum and paid for everything 10 times over. It’s just something we’ve learned along the way.
MW: Are any of your side projects set to be released through "Weathermaker"?
Neil: Bakerton Group will (the instrumental alter ego of the band), and that’s really just it. Those are the two entities that make up "Weathermaker". I’ll never say never, but right now we’re just taking very baby steps because we are all learning to do it.
MW: It seems that all of you are involved in side projects outside of CLUTCH.
Neil: We’re musicians, I mean that’s what we do. I think it’s good to play with other musicians because you can get in a comfort zone when you have jammed with a group of guys as long as we have with each other. It’s great because you can almost have a telepathy musically because you are so in-tune with each other, but at the same time it’s easy to become complacent because it’s so easy. Jamming with other people is fun and a great crash learning experience.
MW: You guys have definitely been together longer than most bands.
Neil: Yeah, it’s kinda frighting when I think about it.
MW: It’s pretty cool that you guys have been able to stick it out for that long and actually make a living at this.
Neil: It wasn’t overnight for us to be where we are, but at the same time I consider ourselves very fortunate that this is what we do for a living. I don’t have to worry about having a job when I go home, and for me that is success.
MW: (Referring to the Food Network show "Ace of Cakes" and his sister Mary Alice’s role on the show) Are you sick of cake?
Neil: The last piece of Duff’s cake I had was for my wedding back in ’99, maybe I had a piece of leftovers between now an then. It looked like Duff knew what he was doing when he presented that cake. Duff also made a Rickenbacker cake for Dan’s wedding about 8 years ago. I love the cake, but I think I could do without the Fondant, it’s kinda gross.
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