CLUTCH Drummer On Band's Musical 'Freedom': 'We Can Do Whatever We Want At This Point'

September 14, 2019

Prior to CLUTCH's performance at the recent Psycho Vegas festival in Las Vegas, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster spoke with Shawn SixX of the Boston radio station WAAF. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On his passion for books:

Jean-Paul: "It's okay for rock 'n' rollers to read books. Especially here out on the road, there's a lot of down time, so I find myself reading more out here on the road than I would at home. I like to practice, too, so I practice quite a bit on the road as well. But all that stuff is good, man — it's good for your brain."

On his doom fandom:

Jean-Paul: "I think as a musician, those first things that you see and you hear — those first bands, those first records, those first shows — they are really instrumental in creating your musical DNA. Speaking specifically about drums and drumming in the doom metal style, Maryland had quite a doom metal scene when we were coming up. I think one of my very first shows where I was able to go up and really watch the band up close was a band called ASYLUM, and they later turned into a band called UNORTHODOX. The drummer in that band was a drummer called Ronnie Kalimon. He was a fantastic drummer, and one of the things that really impressed me was the way he played his ride cymbal. He had a very specific ride cymbal bell, and the way he hit the rhythm on that bell was kind of unique. I was never really able to cop that Ronnie style, but I always hear that in my head, so I use a lot of the bell in my playing... That show in particular really made an impact on me. I was just starting to play drums, and watching this guy do his thing... I really have a soft spot for bands that have a very heavy sound, but also display some sense of dynamic and some syncopation in the playing and some rhythmical things. I think people sort of associate doom with this thing that's just sort of sounds like a concrete truck going down the road, and to some degree, that's true, but there's a lot you can do within that music. Bill Ward is a great example of that. He blew me away as a kid, because I was listening to this band that I thought was so brutally heavy, but I heard stuff in Bill Ward's playing that reminded me of stuff that I saw on TV when I was a kid watching THE BUDDY RICH BIG BAND or Gene Krupa. As a young drummer, 15, 16 years old, making that connection that the dudes who play in these super-heavy bands... there's a tremendous amount of swing. For me, that's always been fascinating."

On whether it's difficult to remain creative over time:

Jean-Paul: "I don't think so. In fact, I feel like the more I learn about the instrument and the more I learn about music, maybe the easier it is to create, because you have an understanding of where the music came from and you can draw influence from people. You can draw influence from different styles and different genres and add them into the mix... You can dig a little bit, and then it gives you fresh ideas. Then you can take those concepts and apply them to what you do in your normal, everyday band."

On the group's 2018 album "Book Of Bad Decisions":

Jean-Paul: "I think 'Book Of Bad Decisions' was unique in that we did cover so much ground. Previous to that, we always tried to make records that had different-styled songs and different textures, but I think we were very successful in that regard on 'Book Of Bad Decisions'. We were able to cover a lot of musical territory. I think probably one of the main reasons we were able to be successful at that was that we really spent a lot of time on that album. We wrote for a year... Over the course of the year, I think we were able to stretch in a lot of different ways."

On where CLUTCH will go next:

Jean-Paul: "I don't have an answer for that right now. [Laughs] We're still sorting that out... Each record that we've done, I think we've sort of grown a little bit as a band. Our fan base has grown, but we've never had that moment where we've had this smash hit that defined the band's sound at an early stage. I think there's a tremendous amount of freedom in that, because we can kind of do whatever we want at this point."

CLUTCH is continuing to tour in support of "Book Of Bad Decisions", which was released in September of 2018 via the band's own Weathermaker Music.

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