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Jean Paul in Modern Drummer

Posted: 10/02/2018
Jean Paul made the cover the November 2018 edition of Modern Drummer magazine, and is the subject of the cover story/interview. Link to full article/interview below.

"It took twenty-four years, thousands of road miles, and eleven studio albums—on four different record labels, no less—before the Maryland-based alt-rock band Clutch scored their first number-one album, 2015’s Psychic Warfare. It was the second release on the band’s own label, Weathermaker Music; the first, Earth Rocker, had cracked the top ten on Billboard’s rock charts two years prior, a strong indication they’d made the right move by going it alone. “When we finished our deal with DRT in 2006, we realized we needed to make our own label,” says the band’s staunch yet affable drummer, Jean-Paul Gaster. “And even if we sucked at it, it was going to be better than any label we’d dealt with up to that point.

“Every time we got dropped,” Gaster goes on, “we just focused on the music. We knew that if we continued to record, there would be opportunities to play. And if that meant driving 3,500 miles in a van, then that’s what we did. It’s been a slow build, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.”

Clutch is one of only a handful of rock bands to make it through the major-label meat grinder of the ’90s and early 2000s intact. And not only did they survive without suffering significant casualties—vocalist/guitarist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines, and Gaster have been the core of the band since forming in 1991—but they’ve also remained eternally hip, cultivating a steadily growing audience of dedicated fans who never miss a chance to experience the band’s unique brand of hard-nosed, groovy, witty, blues–inspired rock. Whether you dig all the way back to Clutch’s 1993 full-length debut, the hardcore-leaning Transnational Speedway League, or drop the needle somewhere on the more progressive- and funkier-sounding sides of 1995’s self-titled release or 1998’s The Elephant Riders, you’ll no doubt land on something with an infectious, fist-pumping riff and body-rocking groove.

The band explored more straightforward, driving beats on 2001’s Pure Rock Fury, and 2004’s Blast Tyrant helped introduce Clutch to a wider audience when the single “The Mob Goes Wild” was included in the popular videogame Rock Band 2 and the deeper cut “The Regulator” appeared in an episode of the post-apocalyptic television series The Walking Dead.

Adding organist Mick Schauer to the group for 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus, JP and company showcased their blues influences by covering Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Gravel Road” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talking?” Clutch continued to explore the slinkier, groovier side of things on 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion before returning to a more stripped-down aesthetic on their ninth album, Strange Cousins from the West.

While most bands tend to chill out later in their careers, Clutch cranked the intensity level to a new high for their tenth album, Earth Rocker, which was released in 2013 after the band toured in support of hard-rock legends Motörhead and Thin Lizzy. The chart-topping Psychic Warfare followed suit with an edgy, ferocious sound that gives the entire record a sense of urgency, from the up-tempo rocker “X-Ray Visions” to the sludgy closer “Son of Virginia.”

When it came time to make their twelfth album, Book of Bad Decisions, Clutch packed up the band truck and headed down to Nashville to spend a few weeks at Sputnik Sound with award-winning Nashville-based producer Vance Powell, whose raw, organic style of recording—as heard on hit albums by Jack White, Chris Stapleton, and others—appealed to Gaster and his bandmates, who were looking to make a more sonically aggressive and live-feeling album this time around."

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