Clutch w/Orange Goblin, Lionize & Scorpion ChildPop/Rock
Germantown MD | Rock
Forget whatever you thought about Clutch. Earth Rocker crumples up the bad categories that have miscast them for years — stoner rock, post-hardcore, metal, grunge — and leaves no question about what they are: a damn good rock and roll band.
Earth Rocker is a solid, straight-up rock and roll album, exactly what the band had in mind for their tenth studio album, now that their Weathermaker Records label is fully up and running. “It might be the best Clutch album that has ever existed,” says guitarist Tim Sult.
It's a concise, efficient album. That was the point, says drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. “We really tried to reign in the jam aspect of the band. We like to improvise a lot, but this album, we really wanted stuff mapped out. We wanted to go into the studio fully armed to make a really powerful record.” “I'm excited about its succinctness, and how balls-to-the-wall it is,” says frontman Neil Fallon. “The length of an LP is optimal for enjoying a body of new music, approximately 40- 45 minutes. There's something to be said about Side A and Side B. It's more cinematic, and that was the approach.”
The album began taking shape when Clutch toured with Mötorhead, then Thin Lizzy. Revisiting those two favorite bands, they were able to apply their own experience as musicians to better understand the dynamics of their heroes. “The songwriting process happened around the time of those tours, so that really sank into our writing,” Sult recalls. “Maybe people expected us to go more acoustic or bluesy, but this album definitely showcases a riffs-in-your-face kind of style. These songs ended up being faster and a bit more rocking.”
“Overall, we wanted the album to pick up the pace a little bit,” bassist Dan Maines explains. “Songs developing at a faster tempo led to a very straightforward songwriting approach.”
That songwriting simplicity is also indirectly a result of the Basket Of Eggs EP issued two years ago with the Weathermaker re-release of Blast Tyrant. “That acoustic stuff represents a new style of writing for us,” Maines says. “It kind of forces you to strip down what you're playing. We had almost two years to spend on the writing process, and we had a lot of ideas. Having two years allowed us to trim the fat.”
Clutch are passionate students of rock and roll, and music in general. Gaster's love of a good shuffle brought that rhythmic approach to nearly half the album. Professor Longhair's “Bald Head” — notably the loping style of Earl Palmer's swinging eight notes — was a direct influence on Earth Rocker. So was Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey, also a shuffle monster.
“When you hear a light shuffle, or the brushwork on 'Gone Cold,' at first it can be a head- scratcher,” says Fallon. “But when you join in, you will be taken to a place you wouldn't have gone by yourself.”
Fallon's reputation as a clever lyricist will likely grow once people hear Earth Rocker. His approach is similar to writing fiction. “You've got to do it convincingly. There's a bit of theater to it, in a way. The four minutes a song is being recorded or performed, I can convince myself that I'm an expert on whatever subject I'm singing about, even if I don't know exactly what it is.”
“There are some tips of the hat to rock and roll history in the lyrics that I enjoy singing because they reference the album in a bigger picture. 'Rocket 88' is considered the first rock and roll song that used distortion. That lyrical reference on 'Crucial Velocity' kind of fuels Earth Rocker as a whole with that back story. It's American myth, even though it really happened.”
Not everything on Earth Rocker is strictly vintage rock and roll. Maines made sure his love of the aggression and minimalism of Bad Brains and Fugazi was applied to these tracks. “The simpler the better, and I really tried to keep it streamlined and a little more focused.
Whatever came to mind first was pretty much what I stuck with throughout the whole recording process. I didn't feel the need to try to over complicate the parts.”
The influence of their favorite bands might have inspired Earth Rocker, but continuous growth as players also affected the album. “You wouldn't have a song like 'Earth Rocker' five years ago,” Gaster insists. “We've continued to grow on our instruments, finding our own voices. Hopefully, you hear that on the new songs.”
Behind the scenes, Earth Rocker is also a result of an inordinate amount of preparation for Clutch. The album was entirely plotted out before recording even started at The Machine Shop in Belleville, NJ, with veteran producer Machine. “In the past, we would go into the studio and write,” says Fallon. “That never worked out to anyone's satisfaction. It was really important to do a lot of pre-production, knowing exactly what we would be doing when we went into the studio. It was crucial that we did all that prior to hitting record.”
“It was so mapped out that we weren't even in the studio together. You had to take a lot on faith. But once you know a part inside and out, you can move on to worrying about performance. If you're trying to remember it, then you're not playing from the heart — you're playing from the brain. That always sounds stale on playback.”
The Earth Rocker sessions were largely based on faith for Sult, a guitarist more attuned to riffs than solos. “I would have never expected to be playing as many solos,” he says. “On this album, they definitely had more of a direction than they usually do. It definitely took a lot more concentration, but I walked away from this album liking them more than I have on any other album.”
“I just decided to trust the producer this time and not try to second guess too much. Having Machine there really helped. He's very opinionated on what it should be, as far as performance goes. He definitely pushed us in a direction we normally wouldn't go.” It was Machine's idea to replicate the flow of their live set with the running order of Earth Rocker. “He kind of made a set list of songs we do live at festivals,” Fallon explains. “He wanted to reproduce that energy in an album. He pointed things out to us, bringing us back to listening to ourselves as a fan would, to make an album that could be played beginning to end at a show, and everyone would dig it.”
“There's a certain energy to our shows that we've had difficulty capturing on tape,” Maines admits. “I think this record comes closer to really capturing that energy of Clutch live. It's a very balanced album. There's no B-side material. It's an album of A-sides. That sounds pretty bold and confident, but that's the way we feel about Earth Rocker.”
London England United Kingdom | Rock
Heavy Metal is not just about music: it's a way of life, a motivating mind-set, a positive force and an inspirational belief system. It's the most exciting, life-affirming noise that exists on this planet of ours, and London's indestructible masters of the furious form are Orange Goblin. Not just the UK's reigning champions of balls-out, party-starting, booze-fuelled metal, but one of the very best live rock bands of all time, the mighty Goblin have been a permanent and universally admired fixture on the British metal circuit for the past 16 years. And now they're back, with A Eulogy for the Damned, their seventh and best studio album. A thunderous tour-de-force of gargantuan riffs, subterranean rumble and electrifying energy, it is the album the band have been threatening to make since they first crawled, with crumpled beer cans in hand, from the grubby Soho shadows back in the mid-90s.
Inspired by the gods of hard rock, heavy metal, punk rock and underground extremity, from Sabbath, Motörhead and Thin Lizzy through to Celtic Frost, Danzig and Black Flag, Orange Goblin were initially seen as major contenders amid the mid-90s stoner rock explosion, but it soon became apparent that this band had much more up their collective wizard's sleeve than red-eyed boogie and flapping flares. In fact, over the course of their roller coaster career, the band have proved themselves to be one of the most consistent and persistent forces in modern heavy music, amassing a catalogue of albums that rivals anything released during the same period. From the rambunctious, heads-down exuberance of their Frequencies From Planet Ten debut in 1997 through to the multi-genre bonfire of insanities that was 2007's Healing Through Fire, Orange Goblin have always kicked arse, always written songs that hit home like a stage diver's boot connecting with your forehead, always delivered the rampaging heavy metal goods while meaning every last riff, beat, solo and bellow.
But it is as a live band that Orange Goblin have founded their formidable reputation. Long renowned as skilled crowd-pleasers and party masters, the band have toured all over the world and shared stages with countless big names, including Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols, Down, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dio, Monster Magnet and many more. They have headlined sell-out shows at New York's revered CBGB's, Los Angeles' notorious Troubadour and the legendary Underworld in Camden, London. They have also blown fields full of minds at such prestigious festivals as Sonisphere, Download, Hellfest, Bloodstock Open Air, Roadburn, Dynamo, Maryland Death Fest, and High Voltage. An Orange Goblin show is a guaranteed good time...all you need to do is get the beers in, prepare your neck muscles for maximum punishment and surrender to the sound of a grand heavy metal institution letting rip at full throttle.
A lean, mean hard rocking' machine...the eight-legged tag team of frontman Ben Ward, bassist Martyn Millard, guitarist Joe Hoare and drummer Chris Turner have reached a new peak of creativity and one-two-fuck-you intensity on A Eulogy For The Damned. This is the album that deftly encapsulates everything that is exhilarating and admirable about this most dedicated and humble of British metal wrecking crews and that deserves to propel Orange Goblin to the front of the British metal queue. They're back and the party is starting all over again. Whose round is it??
Ben Ward - Vocals
Joe Hoare - Guitar
Martyn Millard - Bass
Chris Turner - Drums
Silver Spring MD | Rock
For a band with so little pretense, sometimes it can be easy to forget just how much the respected DC quartet Lionize has accomplished since their inception in 2004. From being the first band to play both Bonnaroo and the Vans Warped Tour in the same year to their five full-length albums to virtually non-stop touring year after year, the groove-heavy rock group has dared to do more than most bands could ever hope to accomplish. On the release of their most recent album, Superczar and the Vulture, produced by the famed J. Robbins and their first on Pentimento Music Company, the band showcases their live sound in a way that they have never done before, allowing the listener an unprecedented look at the experience of hearing the songs played live in front of them.
“Superczar was the first time we were really intent on capturing the sound of the band live. We had done so much touring in the interim between records that our style had begun to change quite a bit,” says bassist Henry Upton who established the group in 2004 with vocalist/guitarist Nate Bergman and keyboardist Chris Brooks. Drummer Mel Randolph completed the current line-up when he joined the band in 2007. Upton goes onto explain that on the new record, “our influences crystallized and we had a greater sense of identity… we also tried to create “song suites” for the first time on this record, where there’s 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted music, something more ambitious than we’d done before. It’s definitely the most complete, distinct Lionize record so far.”
Doubtless, the band’s long tenured members and extremely heavy touring schedule have contributed to the evolution of their distinct brand of dark reggae-infused rock. “Having the same group for so long has led us to be able to open things up musically. We get along shockingly well,” muses Brooks. “Touring has a way of making you a better player at your craft, and as a band. It has allowed us to build a reputation for ourselves as being a great live show and really cutting deep into improvising,” says Randolph. All of this makes it obvious that for the members of Lionize, music is not only a passion but an integral part of who they are. “We really are just 4 guys who get together in a basement and jam. Whatever comes out of that is where we will go. As a band we never really try to discuss the direction of the sound or songs, we really just play what we think is the grooviest and heaviest jam we can, and let the music take us forward,” claims Bergman.
This straightforward approach embodies the hard-working, every-man ethics that are at the very heart of Lionize, and has led to both critical acclaim and an ever-growing fan base for the band. Bergman continues, “The shows keep getting bigger, and the tours get better. More and more people continue to spread the word and come out.” Chimes in Randolph, “Our fans are very loyal. They range from their mid-teens to upwards of their late 40s. It’s cool having a wide spread of generations as fans of our music.”
Yet as they grow, long-time fans of the band have nothing to fear. “As cliche as it is, the more things change, the more Lionize seems to dig its heels in and make the music we want to, the way we see most fit,” says Bergman about their fierce, uncompromising nature. But you can always guarantee that no matter what, the guys will continue to create a powerful sound uniquely their own. Affirms Randolph, “Crowds will hear the name ’Lionize’ and kind of expect more of a straight-ahead reggae style from us, but there is a lot more to our sound. We’re always mixing it up, and making it funky!”
With their heavy touring continuing throughout the foreseeable future, one can be assured that Lionize’s incomparable sound will only continue to grow stronger with each show and audiences will persist in being impressed by a band which, as one critic said, makes even the most notable musicians “shake their heads and wish they’d thought of that.”
Chris Brooks - Keys
Henry Upton - Bass
Mel Randolph - Drums
Nate Bergman - Guitar
Tim Sult - Guitar
No matter where they play, when The Child take the stage they bring the noise. Their sound heralds back to early 70’s hard psych-prog (Sir Lord Baltimore, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun, BANG) with a modern twist of metal and doom. For those who have witnessed the band’s live set words like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and James Gang spring from their lips. Layering high-energy, heavy twin-guitar riffage over a pounding rhythm section with a singer that’s a cross between Robert Plant, Ronnie Dio and Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon has built the group a passionate, dedicated and rapidly growing fanbase.
Scorpion Child are from lots of different places, not only logistically but musically. “We’re from St. Louis, Austin, Wichita, and Houston,” says lead singer Aryn Jonathan Black describing the band’s roots. “Our influences are diversified as classic rock and 80’s thrash metal to old school southern delta blues along the lines of Blind Willie Johnson, Lemon Jefferson and Willie McTell.” The five-piece call Austin, Texas home since forming in the summer of 2006. The music world may be crowded, but there’s always going to be room for The Child’s frenzied freakouts and dark melodies,that flashback to the boneyard of classic rock.”