The Bowery Presents
Clutch

Psychic Warfare World Tour

Clutch

Devin Townsend Project, The Obsessed, Mike Westcott Band

Thu, December 28, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 6:30 pm

Starland Ballroom

Sayreville, NJ

$29.50 ADV/$35.00 DOS

This event is all ages

Clutch
Clutch
Neil Fallon: Vocals/ Guitar
Jean-Paul Gaster: Drums
Dan Maines: Bass
Tim Sult: Guitar

It’s the parabolic motion of projectiles. Or, as Isaac Newton stated, what goes up must come down — that is, everything except Clutch.

Earth Rocker created an insurmountable peak. But Psychic Warfare has altered laws of physics by elevating the smart songwriting and impressive performances of that last album, setting an even higher benchmark as their now-definitive album to date.

The eleventh Clutch studio album Psychic Warfare goes straight for the throat with “X- Ray Visions” and never lets go. Working again with acclaimed producer Machine, this time in Texas, the concise arrangements that made Earth Rocker so assertive is the same harness for the combustible musical energy on Psychic Warfare. Harder, faster… let the rhythm hit ‘em.

Formed in 1991, the Maryland-based band’s ability to absorb different musical styles and fabricate them into a distinct Clutch sound continues to be their forté. “A Quick Death In Texas,” overstocked with signature “Clutch heavy” Tim Sult riffs and lonesome guitar licks, and the funk undercurrent of “Your Love Is Incarceration,” color Psychic Warfare with articulate musicality and comfortable familiarity.

The overall intensity of Psychic Warfare would be self-consuming without the pressure valve of a canny rhythm section. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Dan Maines have an intuitive sense of dynamics that gives weight and contrast to the forcefulness of the vocals, steering Clutch into the straightaway out of tight, exhilarating corners.

“I listened closely to the rhythm of Neil’s vocals this time around.” Gaster explains. “The rhythms he sings, are very syncopated. It was my goal to articulate these rhythms on the drums while keeping the pulse of the music strong.”

Psychic Warfare is cinematic, a soundtrack to the plot of singer Neil Fallon’s imagination. The narrative of “The Affidavit” sets the scene for an album of gunslingers, energy weapons, paranoid neurosis, and the occasional three-legged mule. It’s an episodic lyrical landscape populated by abstract characterization, nuance, and clever peculiarity.

“I spent a lot of time doting over the lyrics,” Fallon says. “It was fun because I have a great luxury that I’m a professional liar — that’s what a storyteller is. Or at least that’s what I try to be. It’s the one socially acceptable way to completely deceive people, and that’s what they want. If you sing it with enough conviction, people won’t question it. I just love that escapism, the fantasy aspect of it. And fantasy doesn’t necessarily equate to dragons and wizards. It can be seedy hotel rooms and sketchy hitchhikers.”

Gaster says the band knowing Earth Rocker was such a high water mark put them in a position of needing to follow up with an exceptional album. “Looking back on the process, one thing that sticks out in my mind is the amount of rehearsal the band put in. We started each pre-production day by writing out a new album sequence and then playing that sequence straight thru as if it were a set list. I think this allowed us to get inside the songs in a way we had not done before. When it came time to record drum tracks, I had a clear idea of how I wanted to play each song.”

In the past, Clutch consciously made each album conspicuously different from the last one. “We had a sadistic fear of repeating ourselves,” Fallon admits. “But over the last few years, we’ve realized our strengths and what it is that people like about us. Why deny it? Clutch is Clutch, embrace what you are.”

The bar is set higher, laws of physics be damned. Psychic Warfare is the new adventure, and it has no limit.
Devin Townsend Project
Devin Townsend Project
"The genesis of it was rooted was in the frustration of it all. Frustrated by the loud…"

For Devin Townsend, ''Casualties of Cool'' is more than just the latest release of a prolific career to-date. You probably know him as the founder of Strapping Young Lad, you might have Steve Vai's Sex & Religion, which features the Canadian metal star on vocals, or the countless other releases he's put his name to. But you can forget all that for now. For Townsend, 'Casualties of Cool' is an escape – from over 20 years of relentless productivity, of the pre-conceptions of him that come with being one of the biggest names in his sphere.

"When you're younger you do these things and of course you become the product of them" he admits. "But as your life changes, your true nature comes through and becomes overlooked in lieu of what people view you as." With metal a genre that's resisted the cultural fragmentation of our age to remain intrinsically tribal, so the family you become part of remain the overbearing baggage you can't throw off – how far do you have to go before you're not, as Devin says, "the guy in the Motley Crue t-shirt?"

It turns out he hasn't had to go far at all.
A project over four years in the making, largely at night when home from turning the dial up for the day job in the studio, 'Casualties of Cool' has seen Townsend look at himself in order to go forward. Digging out a battered old Fender amp and telecaster, he revisited the rootsy country and North American folk music of his youth. It provides the backbone of the album that's eventually come to fruition, opening with 'Daddy's' shuffling percussion and bluesy finger-picked motif, resurfacing during 'The Code's' sultry twilight atmospherics and 'Forgive Me's' hushed ambience. It's a subtly applied but vital part of this record, providing the bones for the flesh to hang from. "My childhood was full of that type of music," says Townsend. "At Christmas my grandfather would insist on the whole family sitting around singing uncomfortably along to Johnny Cash songs and Irish stuff like the Clancy Brothers. It was a big part of my childhood, it's not like I'm putting on a new hat here."
However 'Casualties of Cool' isn't a vehicle for nostalgia either; instead it uses these familiar troupes as leaping off points. Tracks like 'Moon' wind off and away towards astral planes, soft-edged textures coalescing and separating around murmured vocals; 'Bones' relatively straight-up balladry sits side-by-side 'Deathscope's' cavernous production, making for a sweet juxtaposition between that and the intentionally simplistic rockabilly that characterises its structure. Sometimes the quiet is burst open by a bright blast of saxophone or choral chanting, but always, always a sense of night-time and nature pervades.
"There's such a specific environment around my current home in Vancouver," Townsend ponders. "There are coniferous trees, it's really rugged. I find myself more and more just wanting to move north away from people. I like the rain, and the dichotomy of dark and quiet. I like being near the water or the mountains. Spending time in hot, dusty Los Angeles – for instance – in a recording studio isn't stimulating. Making Casualties I found more excuses to get in some kind of environment."

'Casualties of Cool' is a chance to switch off from our hyper-accelerated world, its relentless rush of 24/7 communication, and the competing voices that jostle for attention as they threaten to submerge our own. For Townsend, the themes of the record surround what he believes to be a bridge in his career; an acceptance of the artist he is today and embracing the fear of leaving behind what people know of him.

"The song 'The Bridge' in particular is about transcending this period as opposed to succumbing to the fear and just reverting what I've done before," he explains. "This whole album's about fear; if you're afraid of yourself or success it can be comforting to revel in that and let go - this record is like 'go for it'".

Driven simply by the desire to see how things unfolded, free of the usual recording contract constraints and subsequent limits on time, it's apt that Townsend stumbled on a supporting cast of similarly wandering souls, all revelling in their own sense of outsiderdom. The luxuriant vocals of Che Aimee have draped themselves over a previous Townsend release – 2009's Ki – and so it was perhaps no surprise that the two would find their way back to each other. Keen to keep spontaneity through every process of Casualties… creation, he refused to explain the meanings of the lyrics sent to the singer, while also encouraging her to pen her own for other tracks. "I liked the idea of the concept of the record being rooted in a duality where two people are meeting at a crossroads," he explains. Recorded by Aimee herself on her laptop, her voice is as important as the shuffling folk that permeates the record, in acting as a glue for the whole thing - her wistful tones hold together constructs so freeform at times they might disintegrate.

Like Townsend, drummer Morgan Ågren is a country boy who's found his career pinning him to the city. Having drummed for everyone from Frank Zappa to Meshuggah's Fredrik Thordendal - in a 25 year career beginning in his teenhood - the Swede found himself similarly keen for a respite from the relentless productivity that sessioning and professional collaboration required. In keeping with the spirit of the project, Townsend stumbled upon him thanks to a mutual acquaintance. With a remit to simply drum quietly ("I wanted this record to sound like an AM Radio playing in the background"), Ågren's work over the record anticipates the gradual shifts in mood that shape proceedings, playing with the space of the record and slipping any rhythmical nuances underneath the surface rather than dominating the tone. The pair got together to record the drum parts at his rural home in Sweden – a happy parallel to Townsend's own secluded Oregon surroundings.

Other guests feature too; Townsend cast back into his past in asking flutist Kat Epple to feature on the record – as a child he was blown away by her playing – while 'The Bridge' features a 50-strong Swedish choir, who come together to provide the surging climax of the album. As Townsend would readily admit himself, it's Aimee and Ågren who complete the 'Casualties of Cool', ameliorating the moniker to a positive definition. It's as a group that they renege on the trends of the music industry and the baggage they've amassed within it. This is a project set on a different plain, with space to breathe and explore unhindered, with an artistic freedom they thought they'd long since lost. "That's the whole idea of the 'Casualties of Cool'" comes the simple explanation of a project that – 20 years after his career began – introduces us to the real Devin Townsend.
The Obsessed
The Obsessed
The Obsessed were formed in the late 1970's by teenage friends Scott Weinrich, aka "Wino (2)", (guitar) and Mark Laue (bass) along with drummer Dave Flood (aka "Dave The Slave") and guitarist/vocalist Johnny Reese in Maryland, USA. Over time, the line-up would fluxuate, with Reese leaving, and vocalist Vance Bockis and guitarist Norman Lawson passing through the ranks. Finally, as a trio consisting of Weinrich (now handling vocals and guitar), Laue, and Flood, the band released their debut 7", commonly known as "Sodden Jackyl". The band made a name for themselves in and around Maryland, even gaining a following in Washington DC's famous hardcore punk scene, and made an appearance on a "Metal Massacre" compilation. Flood was eventually replaced by Ed Gulli and this line-up recorded a tape together in 1985 but were unable to find anyone to release it. Faced with a lack of success and label disinterest, the group disbanded shortly afterwards. However, word of the band reached Saint Vitus, whose singer, Scott Reagers, had announced his departure from the band, and they asked Wino to join. The Obsessed tape began making the rounds in tape-trading circles and, soon enough, Hellhound Records, Saint Vitus's German record label, offered to release it. To support its release, Wino put a new version of the band, consisting of drummer Greg Rogers and bassist Scott Reeder (who replaced Danny Hood, who was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after joining the Obsessed), for a tour. However, after the tour, Wino decided to quit Saint Vitus for reasons that remain a point of contention between Wino and Vitus leader Dave Chandler. Wino maintained that he received Chandler's blessing for the released of the Obsessed album and subsequent tour but upon returning home was unhappy with the new material Chandler was writing and upset that the band chose Don Dokken to produce their next album. Chandler claimed that he was apprehensive about the Obsessed project and that Wino lost interest in Saint Vitus because of it. In any case, the Obsessed was now Wino's full-time band the group recorded "Lunar Womb" for Hellhound in 1991. Dissatisfied with Hellhound, Wino accepted a record deal with Columbia Records for the band's next album "The Church Within", which saw Guy Pinhas replace Scott Reeder. However, life on a major label was not much better. The label pulled promotion for the album just as it was being released and it was a commercial failure. The band soon split and, for a time, Wino sank into substance abuse. However, he eventually managed to clean himself up and, after living for a number of years in Los Angeles, returned to Maryland were he fronted Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand before going solo. In 1999, Southern Lord Recordings put together an odds-and-ends collection called "Incarnate".

In February 2016, Wino announced that his band Spirit Caravan would be adopting The Obsessed moniker while continuing to play material from both bands' catalogs.
Venue Information:
Starland Ballroom
570 Jernee Mill Road
Sayreville, NJ, 08872
http://www.starlandballroom.com/