(PCM) Always one of our very favorite bands to catch live, Clutch put on an incredible performance at the inaugural Food Truck & Rock Carnival held at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, NJ. Currently, Clutch are gearing up for the October 2 release of their eleventh studio album “Psychic Warfare” released via their own label Weathermaker Music. “Psychic Warfare” serves the perfect follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed “Earth Rocker” which debuted at #15 on the Billboard charts when it was released back in 2013.
We were thrilled to hear some new tracks making their way into the band’s live set and if these songs are any indication of what’s to come with the new album, we are sure to have yet another phenomenal release from Clutch!
We caught up with Clutch bassist Dan Maines to chat about the recording process for “Psychic Warfare”, changes in the music industry, upcoming touring plans and more!
On adding in new songs to the live performance
DAN MAINES: We opened last night at The Shindig Festival with two new ones and all together we had about six new ones in the set.
On reading feedback on social media about the new music
DM: I come across that stuff, but I don’t search for it. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in all of that, but we do like to play our newest stuff whenever we have the opportunity, sometimes even before we record songs we will play it live. That’s more for our benefit than anything else, just to see if the song has legs and if it’s something that we need to put on the back burner. It’s definitely something that keeps things fresh on our end.
On the difficulty of crafting a set list and adding in new material
DM: As a musician that is the stuff that you are going to be most interested in playing and I think it’s a good exercise for all of us to kind of gauge where the song is and what needs to be changed and it keeps us thinking about the music. It’s too easy sometimes to fall into this automatic mode, especially if you are playing the same set list over and over again night after night. Sometimes you catch yourself not even paying attention to what it is that you’re playing and that’s when mistakes are made.
On the recording process for “Psychic Warfare”
DM: We worked about with Machine, who is the producer we used for Blast Tyrant” back in 2004 and then we used him again for “Earth Rocker” and things went really well for us on “Earth Rocker”. I think we felt more comfortable working with Machine for that record than we did for “Blast Tyrant”. I think it was a bit of a shock when we did “Blast Tyrant” because his methods are pretty unorthodox and we just felt more comfortable with him by the time we got around to doing “Earth Rocker”. I think that made the process for “Psychic Warfare” a lot easier because we had made the decision to go with him very early on in the process, so we had the opportunity to bring him down to our studio in Maryland a couple times for an extended period of time just to work out the songs and that was a big help. So, by the time we got into Texas we had not only all the songs written out, but we had played them live for at least two or three weeks before we went into the studio.
When we got into Texas, we just set up the gear and really just kind of belted them out. There was really only one song, it was “A Quick Death In Texas”, that we had ideas and riffs for, but it was really written in song form in his studio in Texas.
On the ways Machine challenged the band during the recording process
DM: His recording style is very different. Normally, you get a band and you set everyone up in the same room and you have everything mic’d and you push record and just play that song over and over again until you get what everyone agrees is the good take. When we did “Earth Rocker” it was very different. We recorded one instrument at a time, we recorded the drums and once the drum takes were done, we recorded the bass and then moved on to guitars and that was very unusual for us, maybe not for other bands, but for us it was kind of an unusual way of doing it. But, when it came time to do “Psychic Warfare”, we really expressed our desire to do it as more of a live setting recording process, so he was very flexible with us on that and he allowed us to set everything up and we recorded it as a band. It was much more of a live approach to recording than with “Earth Rocker”.
On the imperfectly perfect sound of the live recording style
DM: When you have music being recorded into a computer and you have it laid out in front of your eyes and you can see the imperfections, it’s too easy to cut that aspect of recording out and only listen with your ears. It’s something that can both be a crutch and a useful tool, you just have to be able to reign yourself in and use it for the benefit of the music.
On upcoming touring plans and release day for “Psychic Warfare” on Oct 2
DM: We have a tour that starts on October 3 and it’s mostly an East Coast and Midwest tour. We go out to California for a couple of festivals, but we’ll be going back out early next year to hit a lot of the markets we don’t do in October. We’ve got a UK and European run in November and then we have our usual week’s worth of shows between the 25th and the 1st of December.