Maryland-based hard rock quartet Clutch is and always has been without question one of the hardest working bands in the music business in the 20 years they’ve been together. They have nine studio albums out, along with some official and unofficial live releases, and a couple of DVDs. The group also performs at least 100 times per year on average, and that includes sets by their instrumental side project The Bakerton Group on occasion.
At the dawn of yet another set of shows, where Clutch will be one of two main supporting acts for former Ozzy Osbourne axe slinger Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society as part of the two month-long Black Label Berzerkus Tour that runs from late September to late November, lead singer/rhythm guitarist Neil Fallon did the media rounds for interviews all last week and weekend. I was lucky enough to get one of them.
On the afternoon of Saturday, September 18, I reached Fallon by cell phone and spent 25 minutes chatting with him about all things Clutch–I was home and he was located in a quiet area in a local IKEA store, of all places. The singer was gracious, low-key, funny, calm and of course, VERY informative, perhaps more so than any other recording artist I’ve ever interviewed (that includes Julian Lennon, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford, and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others).
Highlights include Fallon talking about Clutch possibly releasing a (mostly) acoustic-based EP as a future release, naming his least favorite album he’s recorded, and telling me how he REALLY thinks about some of the band’s former record labels (and how they successfully sued one of them).
If you’re a huge Clutch fan and care to know a lot more about Fallon and this band, get comfortable, grab a drink or snack and enjoy this interview.
Let me just start by saying congratulations on 20 years of being together as a band with Clutch, and getting hand-picked by Zakk Wylde to be one of the two main support acts on his Berzerkus Tour. That’s a pretty big deal, wouldn’t you say?
Yeah, it’s gonna be a good tour. We’re looking forward to it. We usually these days don’t go out for that long, but this is a special occasion and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. [It] certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve been in the band for 20 years. It kind of donned upon me that this past August, I will have been in Clutch for more than half my life.
I’m sure that with all the bands you’ve played with over the years that you know and have kept in touch with Zakk over the years. But what was your initial reaction when you got asked to join the tour?