Tim Sult Talks About the Missing Link Tour and More
By: Sally A. Schwartz
With the promise of warm weather ahead the road
is starting to gear up for more than one tour bus. Clutch is one of
those that is going to be among its traffic.. The band will be heading
out with Mastodon on "The Missing Link Tour" starting mid-April in St.
Paul, Minnesota. To find out more about whatís in store for Clutch, I
spoke with the bands guitarist, Tim Sult. Our conversation went like
DB: How are things going?
TS: Things are going pretty goodÖ just hanging
out around home, recharging my batteries.
DB: Getting ready for your upcoming "Missing
Link Tour" I bet?
DB: This U.S. Tour is kind of short for the
Clutch. Isnít it only like a two month tour?
TS: Well I think itís only six weeks actually.
AhÖNoÖI wouldnít say itís really that short. I mean we have gone out
for three months at most at a time. But usually these days now that we
are getting old, (Laughs) we usually go out for about a month or six
DB: On this tour youíre touring with Mastodon.
Clutch is actually friends with them are they not?
TS: Yes, that is correct. We have known them
for a lot of years. They are an incredible band and we are really
psyched to be touring with them again.
DB: What encouraged you to do this tour with
TS: Well actually, we have toured with them
twice in the past, and itís just been a really long time since we have
had the opportunity to do it again. So, it turned out that they were
available to tour and we were able to tour at the same time. We
figured that we would team up. We had been talking about it a lot over
the yearsÖit just wasnít able to happen. So we finally had a chance to
make it happen.
DB: On this tour you have two supporting bands
as well correct?
TS: Yes, correct.
DB: Tell us how you came to add Big Business
and Graveyard, which is from Sweden.
TS: Graveyard is another band that we had
toured with a few times. Their music just fit in naturally with this
tour. Theyíre a pretty heavy í70s hard rock band and weíre fans of
those guys also. I think that the guys from Mastodon suggested Big
Business because Graveyard couldnít do the whole tour. So Big Business
is going to do the first part of the tour and Graveyard is going to
DB: I heard you added a date to the tour. I
think itís like in Michigan or something like that. Am I right?
TS: Uh, Yeah.. Detroit, Michigan was the last
date that was added. I think weíre playing there like the 23rd of May.
DB: Well Iím sure the fans in Detroit will be
really happy to hear and know of that.
TS: Yeah, for sure.
DB: When are you slated to end the tour for
"The Missing Link"?
TS: SeeÖI believe it ends in late May like the
24th, 25th or 26th. Something like that anyway. And Iím not sure off
the top of my head but I think itís like in Ohio or some place in that
DB: Well thatís good to know. It kind of gives
you a chance to rest up before you start touring again.
TS: Yeah, it gives us a couple of weeks off and
then weíre going to Europe for a few shows. Then weíll do some real
resting up before the new album comes out.
DB: Weíll talk about that new album in a little
bit if you donít mind? I wanted to talk about "Earth Rocker" for a bit
because itís the one supporting this tour. Has the success of this
album come as a surprise to you and the band?
TS: Yeah for sure. What I mean by that is
that we really didnít expect it to do that well chart-wise. We never
really have been a huge chart-success type of a band. But in the end
we see it as a great thing and it seemingly boosted our profile as a
band. The "Earth Rocker" album actually boosted our fan base. To know
that this album not only appealed to our current fans that have
followed us for a long time and that this album generated new fans is
a really good feeling.
DB: When "Earth Rocker" was named "Best Album
of the Year" by Metal Hammer what was the bands reaction to that
TS: Oh man, you know here we are 10 albums into
our career and Metal Hammer listed it as the "Best Album of the Year,"
it was a really great feeling for sure.
DB: I read somewhere that Machine was the
producer of this album, why did you decide to go with him?
TB: We as a band felt that this is what we
really needed at the point of making this album and I think he helped
give us a great representation of what these songs are. At this point
"Earth Rocker" is two years old.
DB: Yet itís still going really strong. That in
itself says a lot about the album.
TS: Yeah, amazingly it is. Our label guy is
saying itís the album that wouldnít die. So yeah! Itís great to know
that so many people are still discovering the album and are
acknowledging that is something that they enjoy.
DB: As promised I said I would ask about
the new album. I heard that it is supposed to be coming out in the
TS: Yeah, that is what I myself have been
DB: Great! What would you like to share with us
TS: We recorded again with Machine. He actually
moved down to Texas, just out of Austin actually. Machine used to be
in New Jersey but built a new studio down in Texas on his new
property. This brought us down to Texas to use his new studio to
record the new album. We hit the studio with 13 songs that we recorded
for this album. Weíre right now in the finishing process of it. Itís
being mixed and then it should be ready to go. So yeah thatís where
weíre at with it at the moment.
DB: What made you stay with Machine on this
TS: We worked with him on "Pure Rock Fury," we
worked with him on the "Blast Tyrant" album and then again decided to
go with him on "Earth Rocker." We decided to go with him again because
of the success weíve had with him.
DB: Iím sure the feeling is that he brings out
the best that the band is looking for.
TS: Yeah I think so. I think his talent lays a
lot in arranging. He has a lot of arranging ideas as well as his
production. His production is just really focused and we just really
like working with him, because we really like the final product when
we're done. Right now this album isnít finished so there really isnít
a final product. Weíre still under the mix and weíre still really
working on it. So itís kind of hard to really place it with in the
other recordings that we have done.
DB: How does this new album contrast with the
TS: In my personal opinion, it seems to be more
high energy than "Earth Rocker." We havenít exactly decided what is
going to be on this new album, but we have recorded some more really
unique mellow songs as well. By that I mean more along the lines of
Regulator. We have a few songs that I feel totally fit outside of the
rest of the Clutch catalog. I feel that this new album is its own
unique thing; in that we arenít really treading the same water, or
doing the same as "Earth Rocker." It feels and sounds different than
"Earth Rocker," itís definitely not "Earth Rocker II" thatís for sure.
DB: Do you have a new title yet for the album?
TS: NoÖ not 100 percent yet, so no. Weíll just
call it Clutchís eleventh studio album for now.
DB: Sounds fine to me. So tell me then, will
the fans get to hear any of the upcoming album on "The Missing Link
TS: Yes, we are definitely going to be playing
a lot of the new songs on this tour. Weíre going to be working them
into our sets for sure.
DB: How do you go about making out the set
TS: I think that because we change up our set
list every night that it helps lend to the freshness of our shows.
Each night is a unique experience for not only us, but our fans as
well. We take turns making out the set lists every night and I think
that we have enough telepathy between us that we know which songs we
want to play and what we donít want to play. We know that there are
songs that our audiences want to hear too so we keep that in mind as
well. When I make out the set listÖwell my personal philosophy is to
play enough new stuff as possible. Iím not sure the fans would agree
with that, but it gives us a chance to get it out there. So if you see
a set list with a bunch of new songs on it, such as from "Earth
Rocker" or the new stuff, itís fair to say that you can think that I
probably made out that set list.
DB: You said thereís that telepathy between
you, so Iím sure this plays into which songs are changed when one of
you just isn't feeling like playing a particular song?
TS: By each of us taking a night to make up the
set list it keeps it fresh and I think that is what makes it
interesting for the fans. Now as for how the album goes, by the time
we get to the studio we have wheeled it down to no more than 14 song
ideas. We get it down to what we want and we donít have too many
DB: Do you find that you pull in any of
your influences or whatís influenced you while you play?
TS: You know there isnít any one influence. I
mean there are, but Iím sure no one really can hear it but me, I try
to bring in some surf guitar solos, a lot of times it doesnít come
across like that in the recordings. But a lot of my influences on
solos are a surf style solo or a Chuck Berry style actually. Those are
my main solo influences; at least for "Earth Rock" and the newest
album for sure.
DB: Who was your biggest influence while
TS: When I first started playing it was Jimmy
Page, Randy Rhoads, Ritchie Blackmore. He was probably my favorite
guitarist when I was like 14 years old. Then I got into Black Sabbath
around 15 years old. Then after that I got into more hard-core. Oh
yeah, I also got into Brian May as well... very clean.
DB: I have heard that a good guitar is like a
good woman, do you have a guitar that can't get rid of?
TS: (Laughs) No, no I donít actually. I still
feel like Iím looking for my favorite guitar ever.
DB: Do you have any regrets over getting rid of
any of your guitars?
TS: Ummm, maybe sometimes. SometimesÖ but
overall Iím pretty happy with the ones I have now.
DB: What are you playing now?
TS: What Iím play now, is the one I used on the
new album and that is a Gibson '59 reissued Gary Rossington signature
series guitar. I would have to say that is the nicest Gibson/ Les Paul
that I have ever owned.
DB: Will we get to see you play it this on
TS: This or a custom Les Paul Custom. I find
that the customs stay in tune a little bit better, than the standards.
However, I think the standards sound better. Iíll probably play the
custom on this tour, but Iíll have the Gibson with me though.
DB: Do you have custom pickups or no?
TS: Nope. Just the Gibson pickups that came
with the guitar.
DB: What do you like to use for strings?
TS: I have been using the DíAddario NYXls.
Thatís the brand. I like to use them because they stay in tune better.
Gage-wise I usually play 11 these days.
DB: When you switch gages can you feel the
difference when youíre up on stage playing?
TS: No, not really. I donít notice it much.
There are times when we run out of the 11s and Iíll use the 10s. But
in general not really and itís really not a huge deal to me.
DB: Clutch has been together for like 15 or 20
TS: Weíve been together for - geez -
since August of 1999. So how many years has that beenÖWow! Like 24
DB: Wow! That means the band has to celebrate
next year for your 25th. Itís cool to know that you have been together
that long. All original members too. Itís no wonder you all are so in
tune with each other. You're truly like brothers.
TS: I know thatís crazy ridiculous isnít? Itís
just too late to stop at this point.
DS: Itís obvious that you, Clutch, are a
really hard working band. Your fans love you, the industry loves you,
OK, and Iíll admit it, I love you. The best thing for me is, after Iím
done doing my job as photojournalist, going to the back or off to the
side and watching not just the band but the crowd. The fan interact
with each other, which actually had me smiling to myself a couple of
times. It makes for a great time.
TS: I know, thatís the best part isnít it?
DS: Yes, yes it is. Is there anything you would
like to share with the fans?
TS: Well, first I would like to say thank you
for following us for all these years and getting excited about our new
stuff. Oh, and we look forward to seeing you out at our shows.
DS: Tim, I thank you so much for your time.
Itís been a pleasure and Iím happy that we had this time to speak.
Have a safe tour and weíll see you when you get in town.
TS: Thank you Sally for the interview, it was
awesome and Iím sure we will.