Clutch Frontman’s Muse: Conversations and Closed Captions
Over the 19-year career of the formidable Clutch, one thing is for certain: New fans are drawn in by the uncommon lyrical and vocal stylings of frontman Neil Fallon. On stage, Fallon screams out poetry carrying the conviction of a drifter who’s seen the apocalypse just over the hill. And on paper, the lyrics still pack the same punch, which he revealed is the intention at the beginning of the writing process.
“I always approach lyrics like you’re writing a short story, and you’re lying. And that’s basically OK, and you can say whatever you want,” Fallon tells Noisecreep. “Opposed to the other way around, where you talk about personal experiences, and I exhausted those somewhere around 1992.”
Since the release of Clutch’s ‘Strange Cousins From the West,’ Fallon has been very open about the starting points for songs like ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and ‘Minotaur’ being from books like ‘Man Hunt’ by James L. Swanson and the eerie word play of horror writer Thomas Ligotti, respectively. But one of Fallon’s favorite ways to grab inspiration is “eavesdropping and listening to other people’s conversations, and taking things out of context.”
Yes, it’s as plain as it sounds. “If you take something out of context, then you’ve got something concrete to start with,” Fallon says. “Like yesterday, I was eating at the restaurant at the hotel, and I listened to this woman — I was on my iPhone playing a game — and she said loud enough for me to hear, ‘I think it’s very rude for people to be on their phones at dinner.’
“She said this on purpose, and literally 90 seconds later her phone rang and she gabbed on the phone loud enough for the restaurant to hear. I was really glad because this was sheer entertainment,” Fallon smiles with his cabin beard hiding only part of his delight.
“She didn’t say anything too particularly interesting other than recite the pharmaceuticals that her mother is on these days.” But it’s these moments of irony that give Fallon words to add to his notebook. Words that later creep in when actual songwriting for a Clutch record is happening. And for those wondering, Fallon hopes to begin that process this coming spring.
“I’ve even resorted to reading the close captions on old programs,” Fallon adds. “When you’re reading it, it’s very strange, especially if it’s an old war movie because the automatic closed captions mistranslates stuff, and it’s almost surreal.
“I try and stay one step away from pure plagiarism,” Fallon joked. “Things happen where you think you have created something really original, and often times I wonder if that’s even possible. I think it’s more about your own spin. You’re not talking rocket science; it’s subjective art.”