Published Mar 15, 2013Maryland-based groove rock veterans Clutch are heading back our way with their latest studio album, Earth Rocker, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2009's Strange Cousins from the West. In a recent interview with Exclaim!, frontman Neil Fallon explained where the band wanted to go with the upcoming effort musically, as well as shed some light on the album's lyrical theme, which serves as commentary on the current state of rock'n'roll.
Fallon says that for Earth Rocker, Clutch's tenth album, the band wanted to make a faster, heavier record than some of their previous releases. "I think the one thing that we talked about was we just wanted to make a faster record and a more efficient record, and I think that's really the only guidelines that we had."
He continues, "We had wrote a couple fast songs and we realized we were having fun playing those songs, and it kind of threw a bit of cold water on our face because when you're a band for 20 years it's easy to get into a comfort zone. We usually play between 95 and 100 beats per minute and that's all well and good, but sometimes you've just got to push yourself a little bit. I know Tim [Sult, guitarist] had mentioned that he felt like his guitar tone was getting too clean and he wanted to gain it up."
However, Fallon says that they didn't deliberate too much on how they wanted Earth Rocker to sound.
"I think the best formula is just kind of going in and seeing what comes out, almost like automatic writing, you can call it automatic riffing. You get into a room and just play what comes out of your hands and trust your heart and your gut and not try to over-think it too much because that's usually when self-editing happens and recalculation occurs, and I don't think that's ever good music."
Lyrically, Fallon says that each song on Earth Rocker has its own idea. "It's by no means a concept record, but one thing that I was thinking about during the writing of this record and I think creeps into songs here and there, was just about rock'n'roll and the state of it now — that it's so easy.
"That's great that you can put your band on the internet, you can buy guitars easy, you can find new bands in the comfort of your home. But I have a bit of a romantic nostalgia for the days, I wasn't even alive then, but the '50s when it was forbidden, you know, when records were being burned. I'm not saying that was a good thing, but there is something appealing about the danger of it. And even later on in heavy metal, when Jello Biafra and Dee Snider and Frank Zappa had to go before Congress to testify against the PMRC."
Pointing specifically to the album's title track and "The Face," Fallon adds, "The older I get the more I think about these things because I think a lot of people, especially young kids, just think that this is the way things are and perhaps even take it for granted, myself included.
"'Earth Rocker' is more of a self-motivational speech. We say a phrase called 'full-time jammer,' which we use to describe somebody who's decided to dedicate their life to rock'n'roll, come hell or high water. 'Full-time jammer' just had too many syllables, so I went with 'Earth Rocker' — it flows better."
Earth Rocker is out March 19 via their own Weathermaker Music. See Clutch's upcoming North American tour dates here.