Exclusive interview – hellfest.fr: CLUTCH [Neil Fallon (vocals)]
“It’s the first time I have to ask for my glasses during an interview, maybe I am getting old!”
Neil Fallon – Le Trianon, Paris – December 13, 2016
When you played Paris last year there were a lot of emotions, and you posted a statement on your Instagram account saying that the show you played at Le Trabendo was the most emotional of your life. What do you think about it today?
Well, you know, when people asked me what the most special show we have done, that’s the one that immediately comes to my mind. We have gotten to play great shows for a lot of people, and it has been great, but this one offered a different kind of self-satisfaction, because I can see these kids, and this look on their face, asking “what now?”…that Show was much for them than it was for us, it was a form of bonding. And that’s very valuable. There have been other shows where may be it was more private, like a death in a family when I felt a lot of emotions, but this show was definitely different.
How is it to play with « God » on drums in your band?
(laughter)…Well, we are very, very fortunate! It’s something I have been doing now with Clutch for 30 years, because I played with them from High School on. So I’m spoiled… Because he is my point of reference. Sometimes it’s a good exercise when I play with other drummers, because it reminds me of how good he is (laughing)…Everybody in the band locks in with each other. And to have that machine behind the kit pushes me to give my best!
What kind of memories do you have around Hellfest? Next year, it will be your 4th time taking part (2009 – 2011 – 2014 – 2017)
You know… it’s terrible to admit but my memory is so bad…and all these shows we have done are mixed up in my mind…So I’m embarrassed (laughing)… What I remember the most is the catering! Because the first time we were at Hellfest, we were very surprised by the high quality of the food. Lot of times when you play in a festival, they give you shitty food as a shit but when I walked to Hellfest’s catering, I said: “Wow!” Of course, that’s not why people are playing there, but rather for great music and great sound. And Hellfest is a great one for that!
Do you prefer playing on the Valley Stage which is under a tent with a “club atmosphere” and which will be over packed as it was in the past, or do you prefer playing on a Main Stage which is “open air”?
I would say both…Of course, we want as many people to see our band as possible, but when you have a closed environment, it seems to build up the pressure much better. That’s why we have continued to play in small venues and clubs for 20 years. Plus, on a big stage, I run back and forth too much and it’s more difficult to breath. On a small stage, I don’t run so it’s not as tiring.
Would you like to comment Hellfest bill for next year? Tell me what do you like or don’t like please?
I saw Deep Purple last year on stage at Rock Am Ring or Rock Im Park, I don’t remember exactly where, and they were outstanding. To read the rest of the line-up I have to put on my glasses (laughing)! I can talk about bands we have toured with: Opeth, the new record is amazing. Let’s see who else… Rancid I have never seen, and we are going to tour with Primus next year. We toured with Monster Magnet, and Baroness, and Red Fang, so all of those will be good! I have never seen Aerosmith and I grew listening to Public Enemy, so… It is a positive first glance!
When you play at Hellfest, do you have time to watch other bands?
Well, it depends on the time we are playing… I like to stay focused on our own set before the gig, and afterwards I go see bands.
In 2015, you have participated to the Missing Link Tour with Mastodon, Graveyard and Big Business. If you could do it again, what bands would you choose to tour with?
Oh wow… I’ll be honest, I have heard Mastodon’s new record, they just finished it, it’s unbelievable! So, I would like to tour with them again, one more time! And who else? Humm… There are so many good bands… We will go on tour with Primus next year, so I think that’s gonna be really good! Who else…let’s see, there is band that I just discovered called Mondo Drag, they are from California and put a lot of Deep Purple and Pink Floyd influences into their music. To tour with a band where you love the music is always nice! And we are open for anything.
What will be your main plans for next year with Clutch?
After the new year, we will take some time off. Three and a half months or so to slow down for a minute, and to start writing and thinking about the next record, which hopefully will be recorded at this time next year (early winter) and then to release a new record in the middle of 2018. We will of course do some touring next year too, obviously our US tour, and festivals like Hellfest in the summer time.
So a new album every two years is good rhythm for Clutch?
You know, it’s like exercising: you need to find a good rhythm, and if you stop exercising it is hard to get back into the groove again! (laughter).
Would like to tell us an anecdote you did not tell to anybody until this moment?
Oh… I am not going to do that publicly! (laughter). To be honest, we are pretty lucky and we don’t have a lot of drama to share… So, you want an anecdote, here it is: it’s the first time I have to ask for my glasses during an interview, maybe I am getting old (laughing)!
To finish this interview, do you have one last word for Hellfest fans?
I hope we will have a good time together at Hellfest. We have done a lot of festivals around the world, and Hellfest is easily, very easily one of the best!
Many thanks to à Stefan Koster (www.pro-rock.com)