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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
A&E >  Entertainment

Clutch remains just that as the hard rockers support ‘Sunrise on Slaughter Beach’

April 27, 2023 Updated Thu., April 27, 2023 at 4:32 p.m.

After 30 years together, the members of Clutch still enjoy making music together. The band will headline a show Sunday at the Knitting Factory in Spokane.  (Dan Winters )
After 30 years together, the members of Clutch still enjoy making music together. The band will headline a show Sunday at the Knitting Factory in Spokane. (Dan Winters )
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Few hard rock bands that have been around for more than 30 years feature the same lineup. However, Clutch has never been close to losing one of its players.

“I think none of us have left because we don’t want to work real jobs,” guitarist Tim Sult cracked in a recent phone interview. “We’re staying with the band at this point because we’re all too old for real jobs.”

During the Maryland-based band’s early days, Sult worked at UPS, bassist Dan Maines was a welder, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster sold BMX bikes and vocalist Neil Fallon was employed by a seafood restaurant.

“We all remember what it was like to work and we’ve been fortunate enough to be in a band that does well enough that we don’t have to go back to working regular jobs,” Sult said. “But what’s kept us together is that we’ve remained creative throughout our run with this band. We’ve changed so much since we made our first album.”

When Clutch, which will perform Sunday at the Knitting Factory, formed, the group was heavily influenced by Washington D.C.’s hardcore scene. “All of these great bands, Minor Threat and Fugazi came out of an area that was close by and it had this impact on us,” Sult said.

The sludgy Melvins and the muscular Helmet also influenced Clutch. “The Melvins and bands like them from the Pacific Northwest had an effect on us,” Sult said. “The early ’90s was a great time for music.”

Clutch has morphed but its music retains the spirit from the era when punk broke after recording 13 albums. “Sunrise on Slaughter Beach,” which was released in 2022, is filled with urgent, swaggering alt-rock, which is often irreverent and occasionally menacing. “Sunrise” is an old-school album that features nine songs that take the listener in different directions while weaving a common thread throughout.

“I think there is a link between the songs on this album,” Sult said. “I think what we do stands out since so many recording artists are about releasing singles and making songs that sound similar. We go back to our roots when bands like Fugazi made real albums.”

Clutch fans tend to hit the road to catch the cult act since the band delivers a different set each night.

“Things change each show since every night a different person in our band comes up with the set list,” Sult said. “It makes it fun for us and for the fans, who are so dedicated.”

Clutch can play up to 70 different songs. “That’s a lot from our catalog but we like being able to pull out a deep cut,” Sult said. “That always feels good.”

The grind of the road takes its toll on the married father of three but Sult admits that he enjoys playing secondary markets. “I love how mellow cities are like Spokane,” Sult said. “We all like places where the air is fresh and there isn’t that congestion, which is so aggravating. I have zero interest in spending time in huge cities like Los Angeles and New York. Plus the fans are different in cities like Spokane. Places like your city tend to be more animated when we come to play. We feed off of that energy and the shows are usually better because of that.’ ”

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