CLUTCH's JEAN-PAUL GASTER: 'In The Early Days, Working With Labels Was Always A Source Of Great Frustration'

December 28, 2019

Since 2008's "Full Fathom Five" live LP, all of CLUTCH's albums have been issued via the group's own label, Weathermaker Music. Speaking to Metal Express Radio why the Maryland rockers haven't worked with an outside record label in more than a decade, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster said (hear audio below): "In the early days, working with the labels was always a source of great frustration. We bounced around from label to label quite a bit in the first half of our career. You end up thinking about a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with making music or playing music. And as soon as we started our own label, all of a sudden, that was no longer an issue. The music can work hand in hand with the business as well."

He added: "The first [studio] record that we released on Weathermaker was 'Strange Cousins From The West' [2009], and each one of the records that followed after that, we learned a little something about how to release an album and how to set it up. For us to be able to chart the way that we did [with 2018's 'Book Of Bad Decisions' album] is incredible, and then when you take into account the state of the industry these days, we were extra proud of that."

Asked if the members of CLUTCH are heavily involved in the business side of running their own record company, Gaster said: "Certainly. We're very hands-on. We handle everything front to back. And by that, I mean when I'm home, I'm at the warehouse shipping out vinyl to Germany and the U.K. … It is work I do not mind at all doing. It's very fulfilling. And I know that very few bands do that and are capable of doing it, and for that reason, we're very proud of it."

According to Gaster, Weathermaker "serves as an outlet" for CLUTCH and associated side projects. "We have THE COMPANY BAND; we have THE MOB," he said. "I released a side project with some friends of mine, a band called KING HOBO. And so that record came out. I've also got another side project I'm doing called SPY MACHINES. And that's coming out probably first half of next year. That'll probably be a digital release only."

He continued: "It's a way for us to get music out there. The intention is not to sell a million records at all; it's just to be able to have a place for our creative outlets. … It's for CLUTCH, first of all, more than anything. But being able to release stuff… You have a system there in place, and so, it's just more about putting the songs into the system and getting them out into the world so that people can hear it."

CLUTCH recently released a David Brodsky-directed video for its cover version of ZZ TOP's "Precious And Grace". The track, along with CLUTCH's previously issued rendition of the Willie Dixon 1950s classic "Evil" (later recorded by CACTUS),will be included on a collection of newly recorded songs, "Weathermaker Vault Series", to be made available in the coming months.

CLUTCH's latest album, "Book Of Bad Decisions", was released in September 2018. The record sold 26,000 copies in America during its first week of availability, giving the group its third consecutive Top 20 album on the Billboard 200.

"Book Of Bad Decisions" was completed at Sputnik Sound studio in Nashville, Tennessee with producer Vance Powell.

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