Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interview: Going Deep Into All Things Clutch With Singer Neil Fallon

Maryland-based hard rock quartet Clutch is and always has been without question one of the hardest working bands in the music business in the 20 years they’ve been together. They have nine studio albums out, along with some official and unofficial live releases, and a couple of DVDs. The group also performs at least 100 times per year on average, and that includes sets by their instrumental side project The Bakerton Group on occasion.

At the dawn of yet another set of shows, where Clutch will be one of two main supporting acts for former Ozzy Osbourne axe slinger Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society as part of the two month-long Black Label Berzerkus Tour that runs from late September to late November, lead singer/rhythm guitarist Neil Fallon did the media rounds for interviews all last week and weekend. I was lucky enough to get one of them.

On the afternoon of Saturday, September 18, I reached Fallon by cell phone and spent 25 minutes chatting with him about all things Clutch–I was home and he was located in a quiet area in a local IKEA store, of all places. The singer was gracious, low-key, funny, calm and of course, VERY informative, perhaps more so than any other recording artist I’ve ever interviewed (that includes Julian Lennon, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford, and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others).

Highlights include Fallon talking about Clutch possibly releasing a (mostly) acoustic-based EP as a future release, naming his least favorite album he’s recorded, and telling me how he REALLY thinks about some of the band’s former record labels (and how they successfully sued one of them).

If you’re a huge Clutch fan and care to know a lot more about Fallon and this band, get comfortable, grab a drink or snack and enjoy this interview.

Let me just start by saying congratulations on 20 years of being together as a band with Clutch, and getting hand-picked by Zakk Wylde to be one of the two main support acts on his Berzerkus Tour. That’s a pretty big deal, wouldn’t you say?

Yeah, it’s gonna be a good tour. We’re looking forward to it. We usually these days don’t go out for that long, but this is a special occasion and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. [It] certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve been in the band for 20 years. It kind of donned upon me that this past August, I will have been in Clutch for more than half my life.

This is a short excerpt of an article that was first published in full at Blogcritics Magazine

Friday, September 10, 2010

Music Review: Megadeth - Rust In Peace Live (CD + DVD)

Between Megadeth lead singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine's recently released memoir, lead guitarist Chris Broderick's Guitar World columns, and another mammoth world tour by the band itself, fans have certainly had some golden opportunities to get their fill of the heavy metal titans this year.

The original 22-show long North American leg of the 2010 Megadeth World Tour in March provided a special treat for longtime fans, a live performance of the band's entire seminal Rust In Peace album, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Several other classics rounded each live set, of course.

The sold out March 31 show at the Hollywood Palladium was filmed and recorded, and now this week, released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray as Rust In Peace Live (on Shout! Factory). This review looks at the CD and DVD options.


A live recording that is 74 minutes long seems like a long concert. But with a fast-paced metal band like Megadeth, an hour and approximately fifteen minutes of ripping rifftastic metal goes by in a flash and leaves you wanting more. That is, of course, a good thing.

An audience of mostly young males leads the "ME-GA-DETH!" chants shortly before Dave Mustaine graces the stage to say "Good evening," a few more words, and then gets right down to business with the rest of the four-man clan.

The one-two punch of "Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due" and (the UFO-themed) "Hangar 18," followed by the war-based "Take No Prisoners" is a relentless trio of metal classics unmatched by any other opening set of songs in the band's catalog. And the sell-out hometown Los Angeles crowd ate up every bit of it.

The engineering and mixing of this performance is outstanding, as the listener is able to hear all instruments evenly, and also pick up various audience chants and sing-alongs very clearly. Take "Hangar 18," where the crowd spontaneously shouts "ME-GA-DETH!" along to drummer Shawn Drover's three accented beats during the extended solo section.

The only (minor) issue one could pick out is the lack of volume on the backup vocals to (personal favorite) "Tornado of Souls," which was otherwise a showstopper in and of itself here. But that was perhaps due to the way founding Megadeth bassist David Ellefson sang them more than the way it was mixed (by Ryan Greene). By the way, after being away for several years, Ellefson rejoined the band he co-founded shortly before the tour, and he sounded right at home throughout. At one point in the show, you could even hear a fan yell out "Welcome back!"

This is an excerpt of an article that was first published in full at Blogcritics Magazine