Beer and Burning Rubber

Hey, this is Charisma live with Jean Paul Gaster, killer drummer of the band Clutch. Let’s do this, baby!

Charisma: So, are you guys on the road touring as we speak?

JP: We are. We just started this afternoon actually. We are in beautiful Morgantown, W. Va. The crowds are always fun here.

Charisma: So, I gotta ask, where did you get the name Clutch?

JP: At the time, we were sort of into one-syllable names like Prong or Helmet, and we came up with Clutch. I think we came up with it about two minutes before we played our first set.

Charisma: So how does your writing process work?

JP: The whole thing is pretty wide open. Sometimes it will start with just playing a groove on drums, or one of the guys brings over a riff or one of the guys brings over a whole song… We try to keep it pretty organic. We try not to fall into any kind of pattern, ya know. We just try to keep things as fresh as we can.

Charisma: Do you have any kind of pre-concert rituals? And what about after the shows?

JP: Personally, I try to hit the _____ for a few minutes and maybe have one or two beers. More than one or two and it starts to get a little sloppy. I’m not saying that I don’t ever have more than two beers, but then you start playing with fire.

Charisma: So what is your opinion on free music?

JP: A few weeks ago, I didn’t really care because record labels are very skilled at not paying their artists. So a lot of times you’ll hear these people crying about how you have to pay the artists, and the artist isn’t getting paid for their records. When the reality is most artists don’t ever see any royalties anyway. The people who receive money from the very get go are the record labels. It didn’t used to be bother me all that much. It still doesn’t because I think most Clutch fans are willing to buy a record anyway, ya know. They might hear it from one of their friends or go to one of the sites and download a song or two or even a whole record, but I think for the most part our fans will go out and buy. The one thing that has changed for us considerably is that we are now in the process of starting our very own record label. So that is a prettying exciting thing for us, and, obviously, we want people to buy records.

Charisma: Tell me about the biggest lessons you have learned and what you would advise other bands about.

JP: Don’t drink too much before you go on stage, and work hard. There’s a lot of things that can distract a band sometimes, but learning you instruments, making records and playing your shows, these are all things that you have to do. And a lot of bands sometimes focus on things outside of this sometimes.

Charisma: Have you ever wanted to give up music and try something else?

JP: Well, you get frustrated with anything, I’m sure, regardless whatever your profession is, whether you’re a house painter or an airline pilot. I think there’s going to be times where you think, “Man, I just can’t do this anymore,” but at the end of the day, this is what we do. We’ve done this for coming up on 17 years now. I’m here to play drums, and I’m going to do it until I can’t play drums anymore!

Charisma: OK, I’ve got to know what the rumor of the KFC chicken was all about?

JP: That was like 12 years ago. We had a bio that came out and said we ate fried chicken on every Sunday. And I think the reality of it was on Sunday afternoons we were on tour with Marilyn Manson of all bands. We just got in the habit of ordering KFC.

Charisma: So, how do you guys keep pushing forward?

JP: I think you just need to focus on the music. If you make that your primary concern, everything else just sort of falls into place. I’m blessed to play with three very talented individuals and guys I consider my friends, too. I feel that is a very unique situation. At the end of the day we have always concentrated on the music and making records. And that is sort of what really got us through the good times and the bad.

Charisma: Each Clutch album is so distinct sounding, would you agree?

JP: Each Clutch record is definitely a different record just because of the way we make our songs. Almost by default stuff kind of happens differently. We’re on tour, our heads are all in different places, and we are listening to different music at the time. And that’s kind of how it all goes down.

Charisma: Who are some bands that totally kick ass?

JP: We toured with Motörhead last year, and that was pretty much awesome. That’s definitely one of the coolest tours we have ever done. And it was inspiring to see Lemmy every night. He’s a guy that has been doing this since before I was even born. Tonight we have a band on the bill called Dub Trio, three guys from Brooklyn that have a sort of very unique kind of sound and approach to the way they make music.

Charisma: OK. Late summer 2008, you have a DVD coming out?

JP: Yes, and that is going to be coming out on our own label, Weathermaker! This DVD was filmed over the course of a few shows last year. And right now we are in the process of putting together the final pieces. That is going to come out in August, so we are pretty excited about that!

Charisma: Thank you very much for the interview. It has been a rockin’ pleasure. Go out there tonight and kick some ass! One last thing, where can we follow up with Clutch?

JP: Look for out record label, Weathermaker, and check out Thanks so much.

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