How can a band that is over 15 years old and eight albums deep into their career be included in a section that deals with new bands? 

For Clutch, hailing from Germantown, Maryland, they can be included in this section because while they have legions of devoted fans and seem to constantly pop onto critics' "best of" lists, they seem to purposely stay away from the spotlight.  Instead choosing to remain that small cult-favorite. 

But that may all change in a few day, as they will be exposed to an entirely new fan base when they bring their brand of heavy, blues-based rock to the stage in hot, sweltering Manchester, Tennessee at Bonnaroo.

Formed in 1991 by Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Clutch has kept their original line-up together since then, the only change being the recent addition of Mick Schauer (organ) in 2005.  Originally they started as a metal act, but quickly began to evolve their sound, moving from the hardcore stomp of Transnational Speedway League and Impetus, to the more blues based sound of their most recent albums. 

Their latest release, From Beale Street to Oblivion, echoes the long history of the blues that calls Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee home, with its deep soulful licks and down-home outlaw rock riffs.  This does not mean that they now play with any less ferocity or rage than they used to; it has just evolved into a thoughtful intensity. 

This intensity may still scare some in hippie nation though.  Fallon’s insightful and thought-provoking lyrics cover everything from history to mythology to social concerns, adding a nice contrast to the inspired groove they lay down.

Thinking of taking a walk over to catch their set at Bonnaroo, but unsure what to expect, or perhaps a bit scared or intimated by the band’s perceived ferocity? 

Don’t be. 

Think of the North Mississippi All-Stars waking up on the wrong side of the bed and spending the entire day with a gigantic chip on their shoulder, and you should begin to understand where Clutch is coming from. 

As lead singer Fallon says, “Musically, we’ve become much more of a rock ‘n’ roll band now, as opposed to being a metal or hardcore one.  Our style is riff oriented, with a swing.  It’s never been a calculated move; we just followed our instinct, and that is leading us closer to those bands to whom we listened to in our childhood.  Bands which are now termed ‘classic rock’.”   

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