Chris Kies of Premier Guitar recently conducted an interview with guitarist Tim Sult of Maryland rockers CLUTCH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.Premier Guitar: The last few album cycles for CLUTCH — "Strange Cousins From The West" and "From Beale Street To Oblivion" — were more experimental, but with "Earth Rocker", you guys had extensive pre-production jams and hashed out almost everything prior to entering the studio. How did that preparation affect the sessions and the overall experience of recording this time around? Tim: For me, I think my solos were the most affected part of my playing. They felt, at the time, and sound, now that the album is done, more focused and deliberate. I know, as a band, recording this album was much less open-ended like in previous records, but saying that there are some songs, arrangement-wise that do go on a trip for a while. [laughs] I would've never expected to be playing as many solos on this album, but they definitely had more of a direction than they usually do. It definitely took a lot more concentration, but I walked away from this album liking them more than I have on any other album. I just decided to trust the producer this time and not try to second-guess myself. Having Machine there really helped. Premier Guitar: Was the focus and mild restraint on purpose or more of a happy coincidence due to having the songs dialed-in pretty well before recording? Tim: Honestly, I think a lot of it can be attributed to us working with Machine. His production style is a little more dialed in. He helped us really give shape to things prior to entering the studio. We don't normally enter the studio haphazardly and decide "let's make a record." But our ideas aren't as solidified or the direction isn't 100 percent figured out, so in the past that has led us to dwell on songs or solos too long and things tend to get overworked or extended. Premier Guitar: "Earth Rocker" feels a lot more like the more aggressive CLUTCH records in the early 2000s — "Blast Tyrant" and "Pure Rock Fury" come to mind, which were also produced by Machine — than your most recent albums. Was that a cognitive decision to go heavier again or was it something that organically happens when you're paired with Machine? Tim: I think the connections between "Earth Rocker" and "Blast Tyrant" are definitely made through the production credits belonging to Machine. The songs we were writing were a little faster and aggressive and it just seemed like the new material really fit his production style. In terms of our musical influences and re-emphasis on heavy, I'd say that was more to our extensive tours with THIN LIZZY and MOTÖRHEAD. We wrote and came up with a lot of our song ideas while on the road with those guys, so to it's hard not to hear that music every day and not have it sink into your thoughts and bones. "Earth Rocker" is a cross between THIN LIZZY and MOTÖRHEAD played by the guys in CLUTCH. [laughs] Read the entire interview from Premier Guitar.