Clutch combined elements of funk, Led Zeppelin, and metal with vocals inspired by Faith No More. Formed in 1991 in Germantown, MD, the group included Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums). They built a local following through constant gigging, and after just one 7″ single (the classic Earache release “Passive Restraints”) Clutch was signed by EastWest Records. Their debut LP, Transnational Speedway League, followed in 1993. A self-titled album appeared two years later and afforded Clutch some mainstream exposure. They jumped to the larger Columbia label for 1998’s Elephant Riders, and many thought the group might join their sonic cousins Korn and Deftones in the alternative metal winner’s circle. That didn’t quite happen. But it didn’t matter, because a quality fan base continued to thrive for Clutch. Pure Rock Fury appeared in 2001, and the similarly uncompromising Blast Tyrant came three years later as their first for DRT Records. Their seventh full-length, Robot Hive/Exodus, followed in 2005 and featured the first lineup change since the early ’90s, the addition of organist Mick Schauer. Among Clutch’s numerous side releases were a groove-based album (2000’s Jam Room), as well as Live at the Googolplex and the rarities record Slow Hole to China, both issued in 2003. Also issued in 2005, Pitchfork & Lost Needles combined Clutch’s 1991 Pitchfork 7″ with unreleased demos and early tracks. In the fall of 2006, the band hit the studio with producer Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Melvins) to record their next album; the resulting From Beale Street to Oblivion appeared in March 2007.
While the band has not recovered their previous radio airplay with subsequent releases, Clutch have accumulated a devoted cult following. The following has been cultivated by an ambitious touring schedule; the band often performs more than one hundred shows per year.
The band’s first live DVD, Full Fathom Five, and accompanying CD, produced/directed by Agent Ogden, were released in September 2008. A dual DVD set, also produced/directed by Agent Ogden, called “Live at the 9:30” was released in 2010. It featured a 90min live performance from the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC and a 90 min Road movie entitled, “Fortune Tellers Make A Killing Nowadays”. The band also released a remastered version of Slow Hole to China: Rare and Unreleased on April 28, 2009.
The band’s ninth studio album Strange Cousins from the West, was released on July 14, 2009. Songs from the album were played live on tour prior to the album’s recording.
On March 9, 2010, the band announced via its Myspace page, a 2 disc DVD set Clutch Live at the 9:30 via Weathermaker Music was due for a May 11, 2010 release. The set includes the entire December 28, 2009 show at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 club, which the band performed the entire self-titled LP. The second disc is to include a road movie entitled Fortune Tellers Make a Killing Nowadays, produced/directed by Agent Ogden, which is rumored to include material from as far back as 1991.
On May 10th, 2011, Clutch re-issued their 2004 album Blast Tyrant on Weathermaker Music. The new edition contained a bonus album known as Basket of Eggs, which includes unreleased songs as well as acoustic versions of previous hits. In its first week of release Blast Tyrant sold close to 3,000 copies nationally, landing it an upper echelon re-debut at #26 on the Billboard Hard Rock Top 100, more than 7 years after the original version debuted at #15. The re-issue also triumphed in the Northeast, where it broke into the Top 10 at the mammoth Newbury Comics retail chain as their #1 selling double disc.