The Clutter Family’s eponymous debut album is a favorite of mine. Their blend of musicianship and humor is right up my alley — like a big truckload of Zappa ran over R.E.M. That analogy isn’t too far off, really. Jim Earl’s jangly Rickenbacker is more Peter Buck than Tom Petty, and I have no doubt that Frank would’ve been proud to call The Clutters’ “She’s A Moose-Killing Cunt” his own.
They are currently finishing up Freak IT, their follow-up to The Clutter Family, but while we wait patiently for that co-songwriter Chris Hobbs gave me a rundown of the songs off the debut album, adding: “I think it’s kind of interesting that Jim [Earl] and I have really different styles but almost always agree on something when we hear it.”
“Artist in the Office”: I remember saying the phrase to another songwriter guy mid conversation and we both stopped for a second…then I said…..that’s mine. [Where I worked at the time] I was using office supplies to make little booklets I could use to draw in and write stuff in. I think I was happy to be employed. I was like ‘they pay me and I get free art supplies.’ Jim added an awesome ending.
“Nobody Loves You”: I was trying to find empathy for addicts who ditch their responsibilities. Blah blah blah they are losers and you have the right to hate them for what they did or didn’t do, but what would they say if they had the ability to explain themselves; if they weren’t so shut down or embarrassed or just uncomfortable in their own skin. Maybe this is about myself. I really think I was trying to understand my uncle and my mom.
“Rendering Vat”: This song we made up in practice. We were talking about being vegetarian and the term ‘rendering vat’ came up and Jim said, ‘Rendering Vat I like that’ and I just started wailing the chorus RENDERING VAT. We just made up the lyrics on the spot recorded them and then never really changed them. Except for the awesome part Jim added ‘My Baby fell into a tub of boiling hot lard.’
“Wear This Dress”: I love this one. It’s Jim’s. I had to look up Literary Hermeneutic. This song is really fun to play. I’m not getting very deep am I?
“Zsa Zsa”: I think I was mad at my German grandma and it’s kind of a mean song about her. I wonder if anyone hears the line ‘I love her sexy lisp’ and thinks it’s sexy lips. I don’t know why that bugs me. I’m embarrassing myself.
“Head”: This song is about Moe Howard. (Note: No it isn’t.)
“Moe Howard”: This song is about oral sex. (Note: Yes it is.)
These audience clips don’t do the songs justice. Although “specifically designed for dead grandmothers and people trapped in cubicles,” you can enjoy them, too, at:
Tell them James sent you and get absolutely nothing off, because I don’t carry any weight. But you’ll end up with an outstanding album, so what are you complaining about?