Josh Rundquist of That Drummer Guy recently conducted an interview drummer Jean-Paul Gaster of Maryland rockers CLUTCH. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the release of CLUTCH's latest studio album, "Book Of Bad Decisions":
Jean-Paul: "It's been great so far. We pretty much hit the road after the release of the record and we've been playing these new songs out live, it's been a blast. Some of them we had to re-learn since we hadn't played them since January when we were in the studio. It's fun getting to know these songs again and playing them live and mixing them up with some of the old stuff. It's been great."
On CLUTCH's ability to play with a wide array of bands:
Jean-Paul: "That's kind of just been the way we've done stuff since the very beginning of the band. We've been pretty independent, self-reliant. In the '90s, there were a lot of, we were on major labels. We were bouncing around from one label to another. That was frustrating but I think it was a learning experience for us and we realized that you can't depend on anybody to make the band work. It's got to come from the band, so we still subscribe to that to this day."
On CLUTCH's independence:
Jean-Paul: "We're still learning. There are instances where we make bad decisions. [Laughs] It's a process. So, each time we're confronted with something that we maybe could have done differently, we remember that and try to learn from that."
On CLUTCH circa 2018:
Jean-Paul: "This is the best job in the world. [Laughs] I love being in this band; I love the guys in this band. We're very fortunate to have an incredible crew, a support staff that really helps us to make the shows happen in a smooth, comfortable way. It's very enjoyable. This is a great job and we don't take it for granted. It can be grueling at times and life on the road can be tedious at times, but at the end of the day, we're out here playing shows. It's the best job in the world."
On developing his own playing style as a drummer:
Jean-Paul: "I think a lot of that probably comes from having grown up in the Washington D.C. area and having been exposed to go-go music. Go-go music is a very specific kind of funk that happened in Washington D.C. and started in the '70s. Growing up in the Washington D.C. area, I was exposed to these go-go rhythms and this happened even before I was playing drums. This was me being in junior high casually getting into music, trying to figure stuff out. There would be these go-go rhythms that would be all around, whether it was going to a school dance just specifically to hear these go-go records because there was no way I was going to a school dance and dance with girls because I was a dork. I would go to hear these records by the SOUL SEARCHERS and EXPERIENCE UNLIMITED and JUNKYARD BAND. There was also a time when a lot of up-and-coming rap artists would sprinkle in go-go sounds. I'm thinking specifically of SALT-N-PEPA and other east coast hip-hop rap stuff; The Fresh Prince [Will Smith], he was another one. He took some of these go-go rhythms and made them into popular songs. These were rhythms that were around that I heard even before I started playing drums. Really that informed how I heard the drums. Once I got a set of drums when I was 16, these go-go rhythms were one of the things I tried to emulate along with playing to AC/DC and BLACK SABBATH. That would inform me as to how I would create my sound. Later on, I started paying attention to drummers like John Bonham [LED ZEPPELIN] who had incredible foot technique. But for me, really it all started with go-go and all these great drummers. There's Ricky Wellman, Brandon Finley, Ju Ju House. Phenomenal drummers with just beautiful bass drum technique."
On his playing on "Book Of Bad Decisions":
Jean-Paul: "I often spend time trying to figure out exactly what I might play in the studio. There are other times when I've spent many hours sorting out what exactly I'm going to play in these three and a half bars of a guitar solo. I've learned that no matter how much playing you do, at the end of the day, all that stuff just goes out the window. You play what comes naturally. Then always makes the process fun, too."
On his approach to the songs on "Book Of Bad Decisions":
Jean-Paul: "It became pretty natural toward the end of the writing process. When we first started, I really made it a point to play as neutrally as possible and by that, when these guys would bring ideas to the table, I would really make it a point not to stamp what I thought the rhythm should be on these particular tunes. I made it a point to find out what the tempo was right away, as soon as I did that, I played to a click and play very neutrally because I really wanted the rhythm to come from those guys as far as how the riffs work, vocally, how that would work. There were even times in the very beginning of the process, I just played the brushes. Even some of the heavier songs, I was playing brushes because I wanted the rhythm to develop naturally. Once I had a hold of how the flow might go or what people's cadence was, then I started to add more ideas and play a little bit more specifically. That was something I had not done on previous records. Just played super simply, super straight, until the song really starts to take shape, then start the specials in and a little bit of ornamentation in the sound."
"Book Of Bad Decisions" was released on September 7. The record sold 26,000 copies in America during its first week of availability, giving the group their third consecutive Top 20 album on the Billboard 200.
"Book Of Bad Decisions" was recorded at Sputnik Sound studio in Nashville, Tennessee. The album cover was designed by renowned photographer Dan Winters.
CLUTCH's fall 2018 "Book Of Bad Decisions" tour with support from SEVENDUST and TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN will wrap up October 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.