Neil Fal­lon

Clutch front­man Neil Fal­lon on stalk­ers, prob­lem drink­ing, com­ing back as a di­nosaur and los­ing his head – lit­er­ally.

Classic Rock - - Contents - In­ter­view: Henry Yates

The Clutch front­man on stalk­ers, prob­lem drink­ing, com­ing back as a di­nosaur and los­ing his head – lit­er­ally!

Clutch have made a ca­reer of de­fy­ing ex­pec­ta­tions. Since 1991 the Mary­land rock­ers have con­stantly shifted gears, fu­elling their 11-al­bum cat­a­logue with punk, funk, sludge and stoner rock, and they’ve been equally fear­less on this year’s Book Of Bad De­ci­sions. Like­wise, while Neil Fal­lon’s woods­man beard and rum­bling drawl might sug­gest a deadly se­ri­ous alt.rock front­man, it’s a rev­e­la­tion to hear he’d rather be a di­nosaur.

If rein­car­na­tion ex­ists, what do you want to come back as?

I think be­ing a ptero­dactyl would be pretty badass. I would prob­a­bly make roost on some hu­man mon­u­ment, like the Em­pire State Build­ing, just for the dra­matic flair.

What’s the most se­ri­ous med­i­cal pro­ce­dure you’ve had?

In 2013 I had a cer­vi­cal fu­sion and a bunch of screws in my neck. That was pretty se­ri­ous. There was a point when they re­moved the ma­te­rial be­tween the ver­te­brae. Of course, the spinal cord was still con­nected. Maybe the doc­tors might dis­agree on the finer points of what ‘de­cap­i­ta­tion’ is and is not, but it’s good enough for me.

What’s your worst habit?

If you’re talk­ing phys­i­cal, prob­a­bly leav­ing the toi­let seat up.

How did you spend your twenty-first birth­day?

I re­mem­ber go­ing to the beer store and re­ally hop­ing they would card me, and they didn’t, so I was very dis­ap­pointed. I’ve been told that when I’m drunk I hide it very well, which is maybe some­thing of a con­cern. In our busi­ness it’s important to keep one­self in check, es­pe­cially when you can do it for free, night af­ter night. It can be a slip­pery slope.

Have you ever had a stalker? Yeah. It sucked. It’s weird. It’s not like you’re talk­ing to Mick Jag­ger here. I can’t imag­ine what be­ing some­one of that pro­file must be like, be­cause you don’t re­alise how important anonymity is un­til it’s gone. But there was a cou­ple of years when there was a lady fol­low­ing us around, tak­ing pic­tures with a zoom lens from a block away and post­ing it on­line. It was re­ally creepy and gross. But thank­fully that’s gone away – and hope­fully me talk­ing about it won’t rekin­dle that flame.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I was once a cam­era op­er­a­tor for a school course teach­ing how to se­cure gov­ern­ment con­tracts. The class was three hours long, at night, and I fell asleep ev­ery sin­gle time – and was promptly fired. That was crush­ing. I also did a brief stint as a labourer dig­ging ditches – and I don’t say that fig­u­ra­tively. That was hard, a real pain in the ass. You don’t see a lot of fat ditch dig­gers.

What is the mean­ing of life?

I would say our pur­pose in life is to learn and to do more good than harm. Whether this is the only in­car­na­tion we have, I cer­tainly can’t say, but I hope not. I think this is a bit of a day-care for what hap­pens next.

What were you like as a school­boy?

A hope­less day­dreamer, star­ing out of the win­dow way too much. I was al­ways too scared to be a rebel. I was much more con­tent to read Co­nan nov­els and lis­ten to Van­ge­lis. Pop­u­lar? Hell no.

Where do you stand po­lit­i­cally?

As far away as pos­si­ble. I have my opin­ions about cer­tain is­sues, but I know I’ve maybe been guilty of pip­ing in when I shouldn’t have. I make it a point never to do that on stage at Clutch shows, be­cause I think re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal lean­ings they de­serve to for­get about life for a while and not get lec­tured.

What was the low­est point of your ca­reer? Well, af­ter that surgery, there was a cou­ple of weeks where it wasn’t clear if I was ever gonna be able to sing again. There was a lot of soulsearch­ing go­ing on there. Pretty dark days.

Who’s the cra­zi­est rock star you’ve met? Prob­a­bly Brent Hinds [Mastodon gui­tarist/ singer]. When I say that, I mean good-crazy. You never know what he’ll do. But we’ve done count­less tours with Brent. He’s an amaz­ing gui­tar player, a prac­ti­cal joker…

What was it like tour­ing with Lemmy? Well, I wish I had a chance to go back to the fifteen-year-old ver­sion of my­self and say: “Hey, you’re go­ing to tour with Motör­head – not once, but twice.” It was re­mark­able.

What was your big­gest waste of money?

I kinda hate this iPhone X I just bought. I needed a new phone, I got the lat­est and great­est. But it’s counter-in­tu­itive, and it re­ally doesn’t do any­thing that my other phone didn’t. I once bought a used pickup truck that broke down the next day. That cost about as much as this iPhone, come to think about it.

When death comes, how would you pre­fer to go?

I al­ways thought the hour be­tween two and three in the af­ter­noon are the most bor­ing of the twenty-four, so any time dur­ing that would be good. Hope­fully I’ll be in a com­fort­able bed, with a life­time of lessons hav­ing been learned.

Book Of Bad De­ci­sions is out on Septem­ber 7 via Weathermaker Mu­sic.

“I think be­ing a ptero­dactyl would be

pretty badass.’

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