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PICKIN' LIVE: Guitarist Tim Sult lets a riff out.

Indefinable rock to Clutch ballroom

Corrosion of Conformity openers tour promoting new CD

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Neil Fallon never wants to use his most remarkable skill.

"I definitely have gotten very good with U.S. geography," muses the lead singer of metal-blues band Clutch, reflecting on seven years of touring. "If you blindfolded me and dropped me off anywhere, I could probably walk home without looking at a map. I hope I never have to use that talent."

The members of Clutch--Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean Paul Gaster--met in high school in their home state of Maryland. They played their first show in 1991 and have been taking the touring circuit by storm ever since, opening for such big names as Marilyn Manson, Pantera and Bad Religion to name a few. Currently Clutch is touring with loud rockers Corrosion of Conformity to promote the March release of their new CD. Recently, the group jumped ship from Columbia Records and signed a deal with Atlantic Records.

"The new album is called Pure Rock Fury and it contains 12 studio songs and one live track," explains Fallon. "Some of the tracks have come pretty close to capturing our live sound which has always been a problem for us."

Fallon stutters a bit--and rightly so--when asked to put a name to the band's musical genre. Clutch plays an intelligent, driving blend of hard rock with definite blues influences. At times reminiscent of old-school Big Sugar, while also defying any kind of categorization, Clutch pumps out a sound for the musical intelligentsia, supplemented by quirky lyrics and robust vocals courtesy of Fallon.

"It's always been a problem with us," sighs Fallon of the band's incomparable and indefinable sound. "Our live show is pretty nuts and bolts; it's your classic four-piece scenario. Some people really want to know, are we hardcore, are we metal, are we stoner rock. We've played with so many different kinds of bands, we are what we are."

Clutch, along with Clearlight and Scratching Post, open for Corrosion of Conformity at the MacEwan Hall Ballroom Feb. 2.

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