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Music / Clutch

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The rockin' crew as of 2011. From left to right: Jean-Paul Gaster, Tim Sult, Dan Maines and Neil Fallon.

Clutch is a hard rock/heavy metal band from The Beltway area of the eastern United States. Known of their blending of styles between heavy metal, blues, and punk (among others), and their out-there lyrics, Clutch has developed a strong cult following in North America.

Originally dismissed as Helmet wannabes due to stylistic similarities (being a Post-Hardcore/Noise Rock styled Alternative Metal band), Clutch developed a unique, distinctive sound over the years. Among the noticeable changes is lead singer Neil Fallon's vocal development from guttural growler/shouter to a more nuanced, bluesy sound.

Clutch has never broken through big-time in the mainstream, although many of their songs have managed to become ear worms. Their songs have appeared in the following media:

  • "Escape From The Prison Planet" was the credits song in Escape from L.A..
  • "Mob Goes Wild" appeared in an episode of Jackass (Bam Margera additionally directed the music video)
  • ""Impetus" appeared on the soundtrack of Tony Hawk's Underground.
  • "10001110101" was in Prey (2006)
  • "Electric Worry" was used for the Left 4 Dead 2 commercials.
  • "Cypress Grove" was used in an episode of Ace of Cakes (Fallon's sister is a cake maker on the and the band appeared in the episode where they were made a cake that looked like their signature orange amp).
  • "The Regulator" was used in an episode of The Walking Dead.
  • "Immortal" appears Hitman: Contracts
  • The band themselves put "Mob Goes Wild" and "50,000 Unstoppable Watts" on the Rock Band platform though Rock Band Network.
  • Plus many other video games, NFL broadcasts and various radio shows have used snippets of their songs for bumpers. They may be one of the most heard groups that no one knows the name of.

Studio Albums:

  • Transnational Speedway League (1993)
  • Clutch (1995)
  • The Elephant Riders (1998)
  • Jam Room (1999)
  • Pure Rock Fury (2001)
  • Blast Tyrant (2004)
  • Robot Hive/Exodus (2005)
  • From Beale Street to Oblivion (2007)
  • Strange Cousins from the West (2009)
  • Earth Rocker (2013)
  • Psychic Warfare (2015)
  • Book of Bad Decisions (2018)
  • Sunrise on Slaughter Beach (2022)

Clutch provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alternate History: Their 3rd album, Elephant Riders, takes place in an alternate version of the Civil War where elephants were used in place of horses.
  • Audience Participation Song: Several, but "10001110101" and "Mob Goes Wild" especially.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "Subtle Hustle"
      I got your number!
      I'll steal your thunder!
      I got your mother's maiden name tattooed on my arm!
  • Basso Profundo: You'll know you're listening to Clutch the instant you hear Neil's unmistakable booming, boisterous and ultra-macho vocal delivery. When the group first started out he was a Guttural Growler.
  • Blues Rock: From their self-titled onwards they've moved onto a heavily blues-influenced hard rock sound.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Most of their first album and EP, though fan favorites "El Jefe Speaks," "Rats" and especially "A Shogun Named Marcus" will slip into their live sets.
  • Careful with That Axe: Parodied on the rap metal song (for real, Neil has surprisingly good flow) "Careful With That Mic".
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Most explicitly, "Escape From the Prison Planet" and "Animal Farm" (see below). Other references include Bob Lazaar, David Icke ("Oregon"), MJ-12, the Skull & Bones society, Atlantis and The Men in Black.
    Couldn't give a damn bout JFK!
    Everything is conspiracy!
  • Cover Version: "Electric Worry" is one half cover and one half original.
  • Destructo-Nookie: "In Walks Barbarella," though it's implied the narrator didn't even get to the "nookie."
    When it was over, all I had to show
    Big bill from Motel 6 and a broken nose
    From east of Needles to eternity
    Space truckin', son, ain't what it used to be
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Transnational Speedway League and the two EPs preceding it have a much more aggressive sound than their later work, though Neil Fallon's trademark wacky lyrics are still present.
  • Epic Rocking: "Binge and Purge," to the point its banned from their live setlist, due to the crowd getting too violent at the apex (ie, best moshing time) of the song.
  • Election Day Episode: The narrator of "How to Shake Hands" declares he is destined to become President of the United States, and runs a campaign where he promises, among other things, to put Jimi Hendrix and Bill Hicks on the currency and publicly disclose the existence of UFOs. Of course, he wins.
  • Mind Screw: Some of their lyrics go beyond bizarre and seem to be attempting to create their own mythos.
    • Oregon
    And so it was that I, a wayward throw back to the Mesozoic, was enslaved as a circus freak to entertain you drunken monkeys. But Fate still had her twisted sense of humor and granted me safe passage to southern Florida, where over the past three hundred years I have been breeding with an unheard of efficiency. Soon my progeny will rise up and say "HAIL DRACO, king of the dragon men!"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Hot Bottom Feeder." A groovy hard rock number recounting a recipe for Maryland-style crab cakes?
  • Noise Rock: Early stuff up until their self-titled effort. Like Helmet, they offered a much heavier take on the genre.
  • Post-Hardcore: Same as Noise Rock above.
  • Protest Song: "Mob Goes Wild"
  • Shout-Out / Song of Song Titles:
    • Rising Son refers to Captain Beyond and the song "Dancing Madly Backwards".
    • An inversion is the band Robot Lords of Tokyo, who took their name from a line in their song "10001110101," which also makes reference to the "temple of Syrinx", which is a nod to Rush's 2112.
    • "Cypress Grove" contains the line "Holy Diver, where you at" in the chorus.
    • Subverted in "50,000 Unstoppable Watts." The shout of "Anthrax!" does not refer to the band, but to the actual disease.
    • "Milk of Human Kindness" has the line "Helter skelter! Run for shelter!"
  • Uncommon Time: The intro and chorus to "The Elephant Riders" is in 7/8 and the bridge alternates between 4/4 and 5/4.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: They have a couple of songs that are straight-up Blues instead of their usual Hard Rock or Blues Rock, most notably "Gone Cold" and "Our Lady of Electric Light".
  • Too Dumb to Live: The "nasty Yankee mannerisms" of the narrator of "A Quick Death in Texas" get him shot and stabbed by a hardware store owner who found out he slept with his wife. In response, he tries and fails to keep his wounds from getting infected, steals a horse from a saloon, and then returns to the very same saloon he stole the horse from, ultimately resulting in his being wanted all over Texas. "All on account of his lack of common manners," indeed.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: If their lyrics aren't an outright Mind Screw, they're downright incomprehensible. "X-ray Visions", for example, sounds like a funky cover of a schizophrenic rant.
    Next thing that I did was tap out Morse code
    With a wooden nickel on the receiver of the phone
    Before I could complete it, I was quickly overtaken
    By the angry spirits of Ronald and Nancy Reagan!