Clutch bassist Dan Maines talks GWAR, new music, and owning their own label ahead of GWAR-B-Q set

by | Aug 13, 2015 | MUSIC

Clutch, a band whose name alone can inspire rowdy good times, is co-headlining GWAR-B-Q this year and to say we are excited is an understatement.

Clutch, a band whose name alone can inspire rowdy good times, is co-headlining GWAR-B-Q this year and to say we are excited is an understatement.

Since the early 90’s, the 4-piece mix of rock, funk, and punk has made RVAMag President John Reinhold bob his head and pound his fist pretty much non-stop, and when we got the chance to speak with the band’s bassist Dan Maines, Reinhold jumped at the chance.

With 10 albums under their belt, and the 11th, Psychic Warfare, set to drop in October, Reinhold had lots to talk about. But because of the GWAR-B-Q connection, we started with the band that’s making it all happen this weekend.

Maines said his first live show ever was a GWAR show in DC – he wasn’t as aware of the band musically but had heard of their legendary stage personas. Needless to say, even that early on, he was impressed.

“It was an awesome show, it really blew me away,” said Maines. Before long, him and the rest of Clutch found themselves on tour or opening for GWAR or Dave Brockie side projects like Ex Cops at venues around the east coast. He called GWAR a huge influence on the music scene and said he “obviously still is.”

But it’s the GWAR-B-Q we are all really excited about, and Maines is right there with us. He said he loved the energy of outdoor shows like this. “Its a completely different atmosphere,” he said. “It’s more of a party atmosphere outside, doesn’t matter what time you’re playing – it’s all good. And its great when they’ve got other things going on outside of the music.”

This weekends show will be the first Clutch show before they head out on tour to support Psychic Warfare. Maines said fans will hear at least a few new tracks during the set, something Reinhold was particularly excited about. Expect a sound similar to 2013’s Earth Rocker, according to Maines, who said they worked with the same producer this time around, The Machine (Lamb of God).

But things wont sound quite the same. Maines said The Machine had moved to a new studio since their last recording session. Instead of a traditional studio in New Jersey, they spent their time building tracks in The Machine’s new space, an old converted barn outside of Austin, TX.

“It was a nice change of atmosphere for us as opposed to being in a studio in the middle of a city,” he said. “We were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere.”

As for sonic-changes between albums? Psychic Warfare will “really showcase the different aspects of the band’s sound more,” according to Maines.

“We were going for a different tone,” he said. “With Earth Rocker we really had a mindset of just crafting a really stripped down, barebones kind of hard and heavy attack throughout the album. On this one, we wanted to do something a little different.”

Clutch has a long history of adding different elements to their songs: jazz, folk, keyboards and harmonica, lots of different sounds. And Maines said the new album will be even “a little more open minded this time around.”

Being around as long as they have, Clutch has seen and done just about everything in the music industry, and that crown wouldn’t be complete without a venture into creating their own label. Sure enough, in 2008, they split off and started Weathermaker music.

Maines said it was the “best thing we could have done.”

“It’s something, for this band in particular, that was desperately needed,” he said, clarifying owning their own label allowed them great freedom, but also added to the workload.

“We started out on a small indie label with our first 7 inch, then we were on Atlantic, and then Columbia – we did the major label thing. Then we tried the medium label/indie rout with CRT. Each one had its pros and cons, but I think, in the end, you really just need more than one person on the team who really believes in the band… to be our cheerleader,” he said.

“Luckily we were able to build a team multiple people who really helped move the band in a forward direction without being bogged down with a bunch of bands on your roster.”

Reinhold had seen Clutch on many occasion, and he’ll praise individual album tracks as well as live versions, noting that live, the band manages to make even 20-year-old tracks sound fresh. Maines said the key to not getting tired of old tracks is in the way they rehearse, or how they don’t rehearse for that matter.

“When we get together and we play we only really try and focus on writing new material,” he said. “When we get ready to go on the road, rehearsal really breaks down to just us as individuals going over music with headphones and just familiarizing ourselves with the material.”

Maines said thats the key to their live show success; they enter shows ready to take songs into new places, combining riffs where possible and developing creative transitions between new and old favorites.

“If there’s an opportunity to go from one song into the next, or take a section of a song and jam it out in a way we haven’t don’t in the past,” he said. “Thats one of the things we try and do in our sets, to keep it exciting for us and the audience”

“Also we don’t play the same set of songs every night,” he said. “Things like that really make a difference in how you play.”

Your chance to check out Clutch in RVA happens this weekend at the 6th Annual GWAR-B-Q, you can still pick up tickets here, and we’ll see you at Haddad’s.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

Topics: Clutch, GWAR-B-Q

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