by Amy Harris
Dynamic, Maryland-based Rock band Clutch has been grinding
across the world for over 20 years. In that time, the band has seen
great success across 10 studio albums and has had songs featured across
different forms of media, from television to movies to video games.
Clutch is performing at Columbus, Ohio's Rock on the Range
fest as the final act on the Jagermeister Stage this Saturday at 5:45
p.m. CityBeat was able to get some time with Dan Maines, the
band’s bass player, to preview the show and talk about the longevity and
progression of an independent Rock band. Click here for full info on
this weekend's Rock on the Range.
CityBeat: What has been the highlight or best touring moment of the last year?
Dan Maines: Highlight? We had a really good show in
London last European run. We did a good show at the Coco. London is one
of those cities for us that has grown quite a bit. Just within the last
year the clubs we have played have doubled in size. The last show we
had there was probably around 1,500 people, but that was by far the
biggest headlining London show that we have had. We are getting ready to
go back there next month and we are going to be playing a different
club that has a capacity of about 2,300 people and it looks like that
show may sell out. We have been having some really good luck and some
great shows all over the place. It has been a really, really good year
for us touring.
CB: Do you feel the Rock scene is bigger in
Europe than it is here in the U.S.? Do you feel like the fans are more
engaged with Rock music today?
DM: I do feel like just your straight-ahead Rock &
Roll band is doing better nowadays than 10 years ago. I don’t really
have an explanation for it. We have been doing this for 20 years now and
we really haven’t changed the formula much, but, for whatever reason, the
past few years things have picked up for us and I think people are tired
of going to see a band they have heard on the radio and they like a
song and then they go to a show and the band never delivers. People are
tired of that mentality. They want to see good music. They want to see a
band that can pull off on stage what they put down on tape in a studio.
CB: It’s tough when you show up and it
doesn’t sound the same. It is fantastic when bands deliver live and I
think that is what really grows the audience over time.
CB: Your band has been together with same
lineup for over 20 years. It is like a marriage. What is the secret to
keeping the band together?
DM: I think we all have the same personalities.
There is not an ego with any band members and we all have similar goals (for) what this band is all about. We are not one of these bands that is
ever going to cater to other people’s expectations. We just do what we
want to do. We just write songs we want to write. We are a band that
really enjoys playing shows. We really enjoy going on the road and
touring. That is one thing that breaks down a lot of bands for the most
part. Touring is not an easy thing to do. You have to go for it. I have
seen a lot of good bands who just couldn’t stick together because of the
stresses of touring, which are overwhelming for one person or another.
We have always been eager to play as many shows as we can. Without that
mentality, we probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have. We
aren’t the kind of band that is surviving on a particular song we wrote
that gets played on the radio. We are a traveling band. I don’t really
have a secret recipe for keeping the band together. We are just very
fortunate to have been able to do it and we will continue to do what we
CB: Is it still fun for you to be on the road?
DM: It is still fun. Playing shows is easily more
enjoyable to us than being in a studio. Even when we are at home and
writing the material, that is always a good time, but you are eager to
play the material for an audience and that is what we exist to do.
CB: What makes you laugh the hardest when you are on the road?
DM: I don’t know, maybe seeing people who might be
seeing us for the first time and get caught up in the moment and try to
sing along with Neil without actually knowing the words. Sometimes it
can be as simple as what snacks our road manager decides to get for the
CB: Where do you think you will be in 15 more years?
DM: Hopefully doing the same thing and not really
paying attention to how many years have passed. Doing what we are doing
but on a larger scale and going to places we haven’t gone yet.
CB: Who knows where you will be going by then, maybe outer space.
DM: Hopefully it will be something more local, like South America.
CB: What is the name of the first band you were in?
DM: Oh, that’s embarrassing.
CB: Oh, I want to hear.
DM: I guess the first band was called Moral
Minority and that was myself with a couple other members of what became
Clutch, but that was the high school incarnation of my first band and it
was probably six or eight months later when Clutch was formed.
CB: Were your parents supportive?
DM: Always. They never really gave me a hard time
about it. They never really laid down a lot of expectations to whether
they wanted me to go in one direction or another, and they have always
been very supportive of the band. Obviously now, but even way back in
the beginning when we were traveling in a van getting stranded in
cities on the other side of the country and figuring out ways to get
back home. They never once said, “Maybe you should consider doing
something else,” and I really appreciated that.
CB: What bands are currently influencing you?
DM: I have been listening to a lot of Galactic
lately. You know what I have been listening to, I don’t know how recent
it is, but Public Enemy still makes records and it came as a surprise to
me that they are still doing it. What is more surprising is they are
still making great records.
CB: I photographed Public Enemy last Sunday.
Flavor Flav still jumped six feet in the air across the stage. It was
unbelievable. Not only are they making records, they are touring and
killing it. It was crazy. That is what everybody should aspire to do.
You guys have your own record label. What are the challenges
of releasing your own music?
DM: We have tried to keep the challenges down to a
minimum from the very beginning and just try to make it strictly an
outlet for Clutch music. Nowadays, it is not that difficult to take this
DIY approach to putting out music. Recording costs have come down a lot
and the overall costs of promoting and marketing a record have gone down
a lot because you have tools like the internet, where you can do so many
things for such a low amount of money that the actual costs of
producing a record, manufacturing and distributing it is not that high. It is just being in a position that we are luckily in where we have
relationships with people who kind of help fill in the blanks in areas
where we are not experts. It has worked out well for us over the last
five years, putting out a couple live CDs and two studio CDs. Who knows
what could happen in the future? It could come to a point where it goes
beyond the scope of Clutch. Right now it is just putting out Clutch
related material. We have also put out side projects for various members
of the band. We have John-Paul, who has been working with a band from
Sweden called King Hobo, and hopefully those guys will have something
that we can put out on the label. We have tried not to get overambitious
with the releases and taking it very slowly.
CB: What can the fans expect at Rock on the Range next weekend?
DM: Four bearded men playing Rock music. We will be playing a lot of material off The Earth Rocker. I
think on this tour we have been playing, on average, six songs out of
16 off the new record. We probably won’t be playing 16 songs at Rock on
the Range. We will probably have a shorter set, so it is harder to
predict what we will be playing. We are definitely going to be playing.
It will be a heavily Earth Rocker loaded set for sure, and some of the classics thrown in as well.
CB: You guys change your set list every show, right?
DM: We try to. We have this system. We actually
take turns writing the set list. Last night was Neil’s night, so tonight
would be Tim’s night. It is something we can do that keeps things less
monotonous and kind of keeps us on our toes and makes the sets more
enjoyable for us, which is going to be more enjoyable for everybody else
CB: If you could trade places with anybody for a month who would it be and why?
DM: That’s a tough one. Maybe George Porter Jr.,
the bass player (from New Orleans Funk legends, The Meters). He is a
huge influence on me and just definitely a hero. It would be nice to
spend some time in his brain and steal something.
CB: Do you play any other instruments?
DM: No, I barely play bass.