Dreamy, nebulous, colorful, harmonious, bare, dissonant. CLUTCH AT STRAWS is an interplay of opposites. The band drops their new album today and we’re stoked to give you some extra insights into their craft, including new music video premiere, their first-hand track by track commentary and some other records recommendations that influenced them on their new offering.
Clutch At Straws was formed in 2015 out of its precursor in contrast. In February 2018 their first EP was released and celebrated in a small series of concerts in Vienna, Graz, Wr. Neustadt and Bratislava. The band released their new single Conformity later the same year and showcased their further musical developments in the process.
As per the band, their new album “do stories shape our reality, or does reality define our stories?” tells stories from seven different people, with seven different fates. “The album deals with the world of emotions and trains of thoughts of people who experience borderline situations. It describes their inner monologues, their thoughts, their fears and their desperations.” – explains the band.
Speaking about the recording process, CLUTCH AT STRAWS comment: “After spending 10 days in S.T.R.E.S.S. Studio Graz – a well renowned place booked by bands like The Flatliners, Redlightsflash, Astpai and more – we left the place with a highly satisfied feeling: the extensive time and the local conditions made it possible to experiment and produce our songs with the help of Ronald Dangl, which led to drum and guitar sounds that really accommodated our music style. In terms of production we added more layers to the tracks with various guitar overdubs, percussions and ambient synth overdubs.
After finalising the basic tracks the bass recording took place at dystopia recordings followed by the vocal recording process. Therefore we spent a few further days in the studio and were very keen to catch the harsh but emotional vocals of Thomas.
When we finished the recording steps, we took our time to work out the perfect mix for our tracks with Ronald. We elaborated every detail and worked precisely on forming our desired sound for the record.
Martin Scheer was responsible for the Mastering. He immediately caught our attention with his first attempt and after some little tweaks we were very happy with the final masters which are going to be released on vinyl.”
Continues bassist and vocalist Dominic: “Coming from the punk/hardcore scene lyrics were always a main focus and songs revolved around political topics. Therefore the songs themselves needed to be in a certain style. With this album and its type of music I am a lot more satisfied regarding the songwriting and the length of the songs (although the topics are also dire). Sometimes it just feels right to create a 7 minute song and challenge the listener to fully commit to the length of it, especially in such fast paced times.
I’m very happy how our first full-length album turned out. It was not that easy with the pandemic situation always lurking in the back of your head, post-poning schedules and refocusing again, but in the end we got it done.”
“The whole idea of the album, was telling stories of different people in different situations.” – adds guitarist / vocalist Thomas. “It was like writing short stories to topics that were on my mind. I tried to empathize with these fictive personalities (sometimes based on real people) and put lines on paper that touched me. ”
Track by track rundown:
1) Fiona – is one of the latest written songs on the record. Its structure accentuates the different state of mind of the character. It is a song about eating disorders and its related everyday challenges. (Thomas)
2) Steve – The character of this song is a boy, talking about his father, who’s switching between his two faces. These two faces stand for the transition of the father’s personality, depending on the daytime. It’s a song about domestic violence and alcoholism. (Thomas)
3) Margarete – This is the most personal song on the album, since it’s about my grandmother. She’s living with her husband, my grandfather, who has dementia.
When i’m visiting her, our conversations often end up with her telling me about his current state, not completely realizing, that he’s not gonna be the way he was. (Thomas)
4) Andrea – is a song with a lot of instrumental parts. In that way it differs from the rest of the album and resembles with our previous releases. It’s a journey, that’s taking you to a woman, having a car accident and regretting the consequences. (Thomas)
5) David – is one of the most punk-like songs and was the last lyrics to be finished. I was confronted with the topic of disease, that have a massive impact on one’s life. So I decided to write lyrics that contain this subject, but not narrating the actual situation. I ended up writing a song about a person with lung cancer, who reflects the fact that his remaining lifetime is limited. (Thomas)
6) Christopher – This song is one of the oldest and definitely the roughest, harshest one on the record.
When i started writing these lyrics initially, i wrote down what was on my mind. I put down my personal thoughts and kind of forgot about it. When we started working specifically on the album, i went through my lyrics, found this and put it into a different context. (Thomas)
7,8,9) Nikolas 1-3 – These three songs were the first ones we wrote and lead to the idea of putting the whole record in the concept of telling stories.
It’s a narration about a teenager who’s struggling with his daily life, especially his time at school. It’s beginning with a very self-destructive mind set, a lot of insecurities regarding his own personality and hatred that is focused on himself. With the dynamic and energy of the songs, also the emotions of the narrator change: from a passive, self-centered perspective, to an outwardly oriented, active one, that’s holding his surrounding to account, finally ending up in revenge.
3 albums that influenced CLUTCH AT STRAWS:
Relationship Of Command / At The Drive-In
It seems to be obvious but whenever you are exploring this kind of music, there is no chance you have not heard of relationship of command from at the drive-in. The raw sound, the energy captured on the album, the sometimes not perfectly tuned guitars, the catchy bass riffs are like a statement to people out there: ‘do what you want but do it with compassion’. This approach is something i can identify with and will always have influence on my personal bass playing and songwriting.
Head In the Clouds, Hands In The Dirt / Aviator
A few years ago I had the pleasure to see Aviator on stage. Once behind the bar, once in Graz, where our former band shared stage with them. Ever since, this album and the band in general influenced us in so many ways. In my opinion it’s one of the best hardcore/screamo records that exists: this unity and continuity in their song structure, their balanced sound and this rough and emotional energy combine to 10 perfect songs, that I’ll probably never stop listening to. It really inspired me as a musician and helped me, gaining more consistency and structure in my own compositions, some of which can be found on our new record. (Thomas)
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair / La Dispute
For me “Somewhere at the Bottom of a River” from La Dispute was one of the most influential records during the whole formation process of our album.
I was and am touched by this record regarding the lyrics as well as the instrumental production. The combination of their explosive music and the mixture of spoken word and screamo vocals conveying the heavy lyrics of Jordan Dreyer, are incomparable. You can literally feel the pain when you’re listening to their record(s). I for myself, have similar feelings, when I’m listening to our new album and its vocals. (Stefan)