Interview with Clutch Drummer Jean Paul Gaster
By ~MaggieUk @FullMetalRock
FMR: Clutch, one of the most influential bands of their time, has reached an incredible milestone: their 25th anniversary as a band. More impressively, they have accomplished this maintaining the same line-up, something that isn’t particularly common in the music industry. Having the opportunity to catch up with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster was more than exciting. Gaster was everything you would hope for in an interview; charismatic and enthusiastic. When asked about the journey Clutch have had since their high school beginnings, Gaster acknowledges the achievement with humility.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Yes, well when we started, it wasn’t really our intention to try to make something like that happen. We were just four friends wanting to play and make music.”
FMR: For Gaster, it was a late start into music compared to most kids his age. By high school, most teenagers have been playing at least five years if not more. But that did not impede Gaster. His first instrument was the drums and his passion for playing them has not diminished.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Yeah, I was a bit late getting into it. I was about 16, and most other drummers has started a lot earlier. I’ve always loved it and still love everything about it.”
“I never played with a school band. I remember going to a music teacher once, who didn’t want anything to do with me because he thought I just wanted to bang the hell out of ‘em; which was probably true.”
FMR: I laughed and joked with Gaster, suggesting he could send that teacher a “look at me now!” message. How fortunate for us that Gaster did not let that encounter discourage him!
Gaster, like many musicians, is a collector of his instrument. Not, however, to simply display them as museum pieces, Gaster buys vintage drums to play, not only admiring but actively enjoying their sound quality. When asked if he used any of his vintage drums on “Psychic Warfare”, he responded “not on that album”.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “For “Psychic Warfare” I used U.S.A. Custom Gretsch drums. Unlike other drums, they have retained a pretty consistent sound through the years and I love that. If you go back to their older instruments and compare them to the ones now, the tone has remained the same. You can’t say that for a lot of other brands.”
FMR: Clutch is still riding the wave of success of “Psychic Warfare”; released last October it made #1 on Billboard’s Rock Chart. I was really excited to see that Clutch had two record store day releases: The Elephant Riders, a red vinyl; and Mad Sidewinder/Outland Special Clearance 12” vinyl, which are two recordings from the “Psychic Warfare’ sessions, with a large scale etching on the B side taken from the cd booklet designed by Dan Winters. Each is hand numbered making it a great collectible. Telling Gaster that they were at the top of my Record Store Day shopping list, I asked him about the etched vinyl release.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Yes, it’s two recordings from the “Psychic Warfare” sessions. One is Sidewinder and the other is Special Clearance. It isn’t to say that they were cut because they weren’t good enough, not at all. They’re a different sound to the rest of the songs and we were trying to make the album flow. It’s always a tough decision on which songs to choose (to release on an album). Sidewinder was actually the first thing we recorded after “Earth Rocker”.
FMR: Having a love for vinyl and particularly etched vinyl, I asked about the B side etching.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Yeah it’s pretty cool. Dan Winters did an incredible job creating the design. This is a really detailed etching, unlike a lot of vinyl etchings. It’s a woman, and the detail is amazing.” I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one and I can vouch for how incredible the etching is. I’ve never seen anything like it on vinyl.
FMR: Clutch have been announced as “special guests” of Lamb of God on the North American tour starting in May, which is outstanding.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Yeah we are really excited about the tour. The Lamb of God guys are great guys and we’re looking forward to touring with them. We also have a few festivals dates following the tour, and some headline dates as well.”
FMR: The dates are all listed below, as well as the link to buy tickets. The link for the YouTube video of X-Ray Visions can also be found towards the bottom of this page. I congratulated Gaster on the video, it was brilliantly produced. And I thanked him for his time.
Jean-Paul Gaster: “Thank you!. I love talking about drums and I never get tired of it. We’re excited about the tour and hope to see all our fans out there.”
Neil Fallon - Vocals/Guitars
Jean-Paul Gaster - Drums
Dan Maines - Bass
Tim Sult - Guitar
UPCOMING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
Tour supporting Lamb Of God
05-03-16 in New Orleans, LA at The Orpheum
05-04-16 in Memphis, TN at Minglewood Hall
05-05-16 in Tulsa, OK at Brady Theater
05-08-16 in Reading, PA at Reading Eagle Theatre
05-09-16 in Portland, ME at State Theatre
05-10-16 in Boston, MA at House Of Blues
05-12-16 in St Louis, MO at The Pageant
05-16-16 in Binghamton, NY at Magic City Music Hall
05-17-16 in Huntington, NY at The Paramount
05-19-16 in Toronto, ON at TD Echo Beach
05-23-16 in Wichita, KS at The Cotillion
05-24-16 in Morrison, CO at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
05-25-16 in St Lake City, UT at The Complex
05-27-16 in Phoenix, AZ at Comerica Theatre
05-28-16 in Pomona, CA at Fox Theater
05-29-16 in Oakland, CA at Fox Theater
05-31-16 in Seattle, WA at WaMu Theater
06-01-16 in Vancouver, BC at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
06-02-16 in Penticton, BC at South Okanagan Events Centre
06-04-16 in Calgary, AB at Calgary Stampede Corral
06-05-16 in Edmonton, AB at Shaw Conference Centre
06-06-16 in Saskatoon, SK at Saskatoon Praireland Exhibition Park Hall
06-07-16 in Winnepeg, MB at Burton Cummings Theatre
06-09-16 in Milwaukee, WI at Eagles Ballroom
05-01-16 in Jacksonville, FL at Rockville (festival)
05-07-16 in Concord, NC at Carolina Rebellion (festival)
05-13-16 in Council Bluffs, IA at 89.7 The River's Rockfest (festival)
05-20-16 in Schagticoke, NY at Rock N Derby (festival)
05-18-16 in S Burlington, VT at Higher Ground
06-10-16 in Ft Wayne, IN at Pierre's
06-12-16 in Inwood, WV at Shiley Acres
For tickets and info visit:
Check Out This Killer Clutch Video
ON RECORD STORE DAY - APRIL 16, 2016
12’ black vinyl of two previously unreleased tracks from the “Psychic Warfare” sessions. Each is a limited edition in a hand numbered jacket.
A side – Mad Sidewinder, Outland Special Clearance
B- side – large scale etching from the CD booklet created and designed by Dan Winters
The Elephant Riders – a red vinyl
Information on participating stores and RSD releases is available at: For the UK:
For the U.S.:
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