Matt Hinch of Hellbound.ca recently conducted an interview with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster of Maryland rockers CLUTCH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Hellbound.ca: It’s been said that “Earth Rocker” is your fastest and heaviest album to date. What was the impetus to move in that direction a little bit?
Gaster: There’s definitely a few things. One of those things was going on tour with MOTÖRHEAD. Watching those guys play every night was very inspiring on a number of levels. I think we toured with THIN LIZZY not too long after that and it was on that tour that we realized there was really a lack of just straight-up rock and roll records coming out these days. So I think we wanted to make something that was, front to back, a very focused kind of a recording. A very efficient kind of recording. One that had good energy from the very beginning to the end.
Hellbound.ca: Going into the studio with that mindset, was your preparation any different?
Gaster: I think we were more selective of the kinds of parts that we wanted to have in the songs. I think we were more selective of how the tempos were. We were definitely a lot more focused on this record in the writing process. We actually talked about the kind of record we wanted to make. And that hadn’t really happened before. Generally, we just get together and just jam and our favourite things are the ones that end up being on the record. This time, I think we wrote the same way but I think we really edited ourselves more and I think we had a real vision of what kind of record we wanted to make much sooner than we had with other albums.
Hellbound.ca: For a long time you bounced around on labels almost every album. Was that part of the reason behind starting Weathermaker Music?
Gaster: Yes. Over the years, the labels have always been a source of great frustration for us. And that holds true for when we were on little tiny independent labels all the way through to when we were on the major labels. That struggle was always the same and it was basically that the label was never satisfied with the amount of records that we sold.
Hellbound.ca: They couldn’t grasp the intangibles.
Gaster: Correct! I think they would see the band touring and we had a very solid touring fanbase and we would sell a consistent amount of records album to album. And I think the label saw that and they’d get excited about that and they thought to themselves, “Well, surely this band can sell this many tickets and can sell 100,000 records. With any kind of help at all we can make this a gold band or even a platinum band.” It didn’t take them long to realize that it’s tough work to sell real music. Radio stations are skeptical about playing new things. I think that had a lot to do with our battles with the labels, because back then, it was just all about getting your song on the radio. If you could do that, the sky was the limit. So it’s really nice not to have to deal with that part of the business. We still talk about business and spend time on that part of what we do, but it’s a lot more fun. It’s easier and not nearly as stressful. And none of the fights that we used to have. It allows us to think about music and not about what some guy at the label is gonna say.
You can read the entire interview at www.hellbound.ca.