Interview with Dan Maines of Clutch
Tell us a little bit about how things have change both for you personally and as a band.
To be honest, things really haven’t changed much for us band. We’re still doing the same thing that we did when we first started out which was getting together, writing new materials, recording albums and going on the road. The business side of it has changed a bit… quite a bit actually over the years. When we were first starting out, it was the early 1990’s and that has pretty much the hey day I think for bands in this style of music sort of being approached and courted by major labels because you had bands like Nirvana suddenly becoming a multi-million business and a swarm of bands kind of got swept up in that frenzy and it’s the complete opposite nowadays. The business side of things has changed quite a bit and in response to that we have created our own record label and this has become the home for anything Clutch. As far as the creative side of things, it is still the same four guys with the same attitude that we had when we first started out and as far as how our music gets out to people…that has changed but we’re still road dogs and we still like to play shows and travel the world.
Tell us about your side project – the Bakerton Group.
The Bakerton group started in 1997 and at a time we were living in the “band house” in Virginia and our routine was pretty simple – wake up in the morning, have some breakfast and start jamming. Around that time Neal (lead singer) made a personal move to Denver, Colorado for a couple of years and the Bakerton Group was just kind of born from not having somebody putting words on top of the music we were writing at that time. The way we usually work is music comes first and then Neal will put vocals on the music. We thought it would be a fun exercise to see what would happen if we started writing music without the intention of putting vocals on top of it and that really kind of opened up a new avenue. It was really helpful in the long run as far as expanding the sound of Clutch. It was a fun exercise just to kind of not think of a song as far as if it’s going to be a verse or chorus section. Eventually Neal moved back to the area and when we started listening to the instrumental stuff that we have been writing, it was very intriguing and it made sense just to kind of pull him in and make it a four-piece band, but maintain the idea of it not really for the most part having vocals. Although, since then we have recorded one song that has just a very small vocal. It was an exercise that was a lot of fun for us to do. We had some fun in the past doing shows where we would have the Bakerton Group open up for Clutch. It was a way to really just kind of have some fun and was started just right after finish writing and recording The Elephant Riders album. That was pretty dense and complicated process because we were going through label changes. We thought we had recorded the album in its entirety and then we had to move over to a different label who had us record the album again at different studio. So it was a long process and the Bakerton Group was just kind of just a release from that.
Did you guys ever incorporated any of the Bakerton Group songs into the Clutch setlist?
We have in the past but to be honest things has been moving so quickly with Clutch and our material lately so we just really haven’t had the time, but it’s always in the back of our minds.
What was your favorite album to record and what made it your favorite album?
The first one was a lot of fun just because it was a whole new experience for us. Up until that point we just have been recording locally in Maryland and suddenly we had Atlantic Records interested in us and they gave us a pretty decent recording budget. At the time we were really into bands like The Melvin’s and there were some recordings coming out of San Francisco that really interested us sound-wise and so we got into our van and went out to San Francisco. I don’t think we played any shows on our way out but we definitely had some adventures getting out there. We decided to take the scenic route and…. I’m just glad we made it all the way to the West Coast. That was a fun time… our first time being in a “national-level” studio and recording those songs – a lot of those songs we have been playing already at our shows but half of the stuff we just kind of wrote. I know vocally Neil probably came up with probably 50 percent of the lyrics on that record just an hour prior to recording it. It was a very fresh experience for us. Every record definitely has it’s own personality and something about it that sets it apart from the others for each of us. I am definitely very excited about this new one that we have recorded as well. We went back to the work with the producer who produced our previous record . He just moved studios, he used to be out of the New York area which was really convenient for us being in D.C. but he just recently moved to a spot outside of Austin – in the middle of the desert. It is a pretty cool spot – it’s the kind of place, no matter where you are on his property you can’t really see any other side of civilization.
That kind of helped you as a band as it is more quite and remote area that can help you focus a little bit more on what you are going to do.
Yeah, it does give you that vibe and he built this really cool barn that was specifically designed for his studio. I think it came out really well. We did a few weeks worth of shows after Christmas and ended the whole run in Texas and we just went straight into the studio and spent four weeks just getting the basic tracks down. The majority of each song and we were doing overdubs up here in Maryland. It’s moving along and we are really excited about where the songs are going and looking forward to playing on the road.
Do you guys have an exact release date for your new album?
We don’t have a release that yet but it is going to be late summer or early fall I would imagine. It’s going to come up sooner than I think.
Clutch is coming to Denver on May 3rd to Red Rocks – tell us a little about what your previous visits to Colorado have been like as a band. Where did you guys play; what is your favorite place to play; and anything crazy you have seen out here?
I think a lot of our fan base are aware that Neal (lead singer) lived in Denver and I think they kind of adopted him as kind of a “hometown figure”. We have always had great shows in Denver and I am really looking forward to playing at Red Rocks. We have been there before. I having being racking my brain since morning to figure out who we were there with. I can’t recollect. It might have being on a Slayer run….we did a tour with Slayer and System of a Down in the late 90’s. I don’t know…..it might have been with Bad Religion…it was 20 years ago.
Best concert you ever attended – not one you played in but that you were in the crowd for?
I have had some really good concerts at home back in the day. One of my all time favorite- The Bad Marines… having an opportunity to see them many times here in the D.C area. One of my first shows ever was at the old 9:30 Club. I knew of them and I had their self-titled cassette…that was pretty much my soundtrack every day. This was during the pre-internet era so I didn’t really know what to expect other than what I would hear from friends or read about in magazines….it was insane. It was literally as close to a riot as I ever being in. It was a positive energy, but it was still at that time in my life where I would consider it shocking, terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Another old show that I can recall was pretty mind-blowing was another D.C show in the late 80’s. They were a Canadian band – No Means No from Vancouver. Its two brothers – a bassist and a drummer and a revolving guitar player. They are a really cool progressive-punk band and they were a huge influence and the bassist was a huge influence on me as far wanting how to pick up the bass and learn how to play. I saw them at the D.C Space Club in 1988 and it was insane – just to be able to be at a club, I was probably one out of about 150 people there. Just being that close to a band that I respected that much to just basically be 10 feet from this person and watch every move they make was good time.
Clutch has joined Mastadon for their Missing Link Tour and will be coming to Red Rocks on Sunday, May 3rd.
Tickets are still available at axs.com
Price: $25-35 / Day of show: $40-45
All ages show – doors open at 6pm