Clutch has rock, funk and metal ingrained in its DNA

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Hovering between the lines of hard rock, funk and metal, the Maryland-based act Clutch is going to blur the edges a little more with its fall album.

“It’s a little more dynamic than Earth Rocker,” drummer Jean-Pierre (J.P.) Gaster says about Clutch’s previous effort. “Earth Rocker is very straight forward, and on that record, we really attempted to make a collection of songs that played themselves all the way through.

“These songs a little more varied in tempo and feel. We touch on some blues stuff and some punk-based stuff that we didn’t get to on Earth Rocker.”

Clutch is in the process of mixing the album, but Gaster was just as stoked to talk about his band’s tour with Mastodon, a one-two punch of genre-crossing rock that hits Marquee Theatre on Thursday, April 30.

“I’m excited about coming back to Arizona,” he says. “But I’m really excited about coming back to Arizona with Mastodon.”

Gaster spoke with College Times about the new record and how he prepares for the tour grind.

College Times: One thing I like about Clutch is the mixture of humorous and serious topics on your records. Not too many people can get away with “bebop alloobop awopshamboo and domo arigato if I got to” in a harder song.
Gaster: Thankfully we have Neil Fallon in the band who’s easily one of the most talented lyricists in rock ‘n’ roll today.

It’s sad that more people don’t know that.

The sound of the band is one that is kind of an acquired taste. It’s kind of jarring to them. Part of that is it’s difficult for them to categorize. It’s not metal, hardcore or (funk). It’s an amalgamation of all these genres and sometimes that throws people off. But the folks who do understand the band are very passionate about the music. We have a very devoted fanbase. We don’t take that for granted. We get out there and try to play as hard as we can every night.

It must be strenuous to play drums every night. How do you prepare for a tour like the one you’re doing with Mastodon?
I practice a lot, especially after we’ve been off the road for quite some time. There’s a level of physicality that is involved in the way that I play drums. I also get on the elliptical machine. But I spend a lot of time practicing. I shift my focus on what it is I’m working on to build up stamina. I tailor the exercises to prepare me for the tour.

You said that Clutch is a mixture of different genres. Does that reflect the tastes of the individual band members?
We are a product of how we grew up. The shows that we saw, the music we listened to, it wasn’t just hardcore. (Washington) D.C. gave us the opportunity to see a lot of east coast hardcore bands. But I’ve seen some very influential jazz players like Elvin Jones, Peter Erskine and Billy Cobham. It gets mixed around and becomes the DNA of the band.

CLUTCH AND MASTODON W/GRAVEYARD, Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe, 480.829.0607, luckymanonline.com, Thursday, April 30, 7 p.m. $30-$40

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