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Clutch

An interview with bassist Dan Maines

Clutch CD: Robot Hive: Exodus
Record Label: Weathermaker Music
by Tina Hall
January 2011

The members of Clutch come from Maryland and West Virginia. Metal fans may have caught them this past summer on the Berzerkus Tour Festival with Black Label Society. The band is situated to have a busy year. They are set to tour with metal legends Motorhead. Furthermore, Clutch and their record label Weathermaker Music are currently putting the finishing touches on the deluxe, double disc re-issue of their classic album “Blast Tyrant.” This limited edition release includes 25 total songs, over 97 minutes of music, brand new artwork, and a 10 track bonus disc with four new songs.

Maximum Ink: Can you tell us a little about your background and where you are from? How do you think it has influenced your musical taste and style? When did you first know you wanted to become a musician?
Dan Maines: The four of us started playing music together in high school back in 1989. Growing up in the D.C. area exposed us to some great music like Fugazi, Bad Brains, and The Obsessed, as well as go-go bands like Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. My brother had given me a Bad Brains cassette back in ‘87, which I wore out quickly. When I saw them play the 9:30 club, I was blown away and knew I wanted to be a part of that, so I bought a bass guitar.

MI: Who where some of your greatest influences?
DM: At the time the band formed, I was listening to a lot of heavy punk stuff like Nomeansno, Melvins, and Bad Brains. Eventually Jack Bruce, Geezer, and John Paul Jones were always in the back of my mind. I consider Charles Mingus to be the greatest bass player of all time.

MI: Can you tell our readers a little more about Clutch? How would you describe its sound?
DM: The only requirement for our music is that it must be heavy. Always. Our first year as a band was spent playing with hardcore bands so we were labeled hardcore. Then we played with metal bands and were labeled a metal band. Then we put congas on our records and people called us funk-metal. I just say we’re a rock band. The main element is always rock. Black Sabbath meets James Brown meets Uptown Rockers meets Mississippi Fred McDowell.

MI: Your members come from Maryland and West Virginia. How does it feel to go from there to touring the world?
DM: By junior high school we were all living in Maryland. I knew Neil from the neighborhood and met J.P. and Tim in high school. By the time we started writing songs for our third album, “The Elephant Riders,” we had a band house in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. By that point I knew that being in a band was what I wanted to do for a living and have been doing what I can since then to make sure that never changes.

MI: Are you looking forward to the upcoming Motorhead tour? Did you ever expect to be opening for them?
DM: I’m very excited for this tour to start. We opened for Motorhead in Europe along with Crucified Barbara in the winter of ‘06. That was a total blast, and I have nothing but high expectations for this tour. Lemmy is a legend, and I’ll have the opportunity to watch the band play every night, so yes, I’m looking forward to it.

MI: What can fans expect to see at a live show?
DM: We don’t spend a lot of resources on lights and props, but what you do get is four guys playing heavy music with an open mind for jams. We try to play different sets of songs each night to keep an opportunity for experimentation on stage.

MI: Do you prefer to work in the studio or on the road?
DM: I always prefer the live show. Making recordings of songs is a necessity, but the show is what we thrive on. A recording is just a snapshot of what the song is on that particular day, and some songs never stop evolving.  On the other hand, the studio can be a great place for songs to be born or to take unexpected turns in direction.

MI: What was it like to open for Black Label Society? What did you learn from that whole experience?
DM: BLS was a great opportunity for Clutch to play in front of some new ears. As similar as our music may be to each other’s music I felt like there were a large percentage of people who may have heard of Clutch as a name, but not actually heard much of our music before. It was interesting to see dramatic changes in the audience’s reaction to a particular song. We really got along great with the other guys in BLS, and eventually had some nice “low end” jams during our set with their bassist J.D.

MI: Why was the name Clutch chosen?
DM: Because the name Belt sucked.

MI: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
DM: Playing Wii boxing with the family. I’m also slowly learning how to play drums … slowly.

MI: What projects is the band working on currently? Where can fans go for the latest information?
DM: We’re just wrapping up a recording session with J. Robbins which will end up on the “Blast Tyrant” re-issue double CD. The first disc is the original album which has been out of print for a few years. The second disc will feature the acoustic session we’re doing with J. Robbins along with songs we recorded just prior to the Blast Tyrant recordings. The acoustic stuff is re-workings of older Clutch material. It’s scheduled to be released in the late spring. And later in the year we will be releasing all three of our re-releases on vinyl. All things Clutch can be found and discussed on our website.

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