When they debuted in the early '90s, Maryland hard rock workhorses Clutch combined elements of funk and metal inspired by Faith No More and Led Zeppelin. Through the decades, they built a devoted fan following through constant touring and hit alt-rock crossover albums, starting in the late '90s with Clutch and The Elephant Riders and extending into the 2000s. By the 2010s, the veteran quartet reached new heights, achieving late-era success with 2013's Earth Rocker and 2015's Psychic Warfare, which both peaked in the Top 15 of the Billboard 200.
Formed in 1991 in Germantown, Maryland, the group included Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums). They built a local following through constant gigging, and after just one 7" single (the classic Earache release "Passive Restraints") Clutch were signed by EastWest Records. Their debut LP, Transnational Speedway League, followed in 1993. A self-titled album appeared two years later and afforded Clutch some mainstream exposure. They jumped to the larger Columbia label for 1998's Elephant Riders, and many thought the group might join its sonic cousins Korn and Deftones in the alternative metal winner's circle. That didn't quite happen. But it didn't matter, because a quality fan base continued to thrive for Clutch. Pure Rock Fury appeared in 2001, and the similarly uncompromising Blast Tyrant came three years later as their first for DRT Records. Their seventh full-length, Robot Hive/Exodus, followed in 2005 and featured the first lineup change since the early '90s, the addition of organist Mick Schauer.
Clutch's numerous side releases included a groove-based album (2000's Jam Room) as well as Live at the Googolplex and the rarities record Slow Hole to China, both issued in 2003. Also issued in 2005, Pitchfork & Lost Needles combined Clutch's 1991 Pitchfork 7" with unreleased demos and early tracks. In the fall of 2006 the band hit the studio with producer Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Melvins) to record its next album; the resulting From Beale Street to Oblivion appeared in March 2007. In 2008 Clutch released a CD/DVD compilation of live tracks from shows in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Sydney titled Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008 on their own label, Weathermaker Music. The band followed up in 2009 with Strange Cousins from the West before delivering its tenth album, Earth Rocker, in 2013. Buoyed by the success of that album (their highest-charting release ever) and eponymous lead single, Clutch continued their relentless touring through late 2015, when they released their 11th album, Psychic Warfare. Topping the rock/hard rock charts, the effort landed just outside the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, making it their highest-charting effort to date. They promoted the album with another extensive tour that carried them into 2018, when follow-up Book of Bad Decisions was released. ~ John Bush