By Johnny Griffith
I’m a child of the ‘70’s, started school in the ‘80’s, and really came into my own, musically, in the ‘90’s. As a result of the vast diversity of music created during that time period, combined with music from other decades I was exposed to, I like to think my tastes are pretty eclectic. One of the challenges of such a broad scope of music I like is that it’s hard to get more than just a narrow spectrum of that satisfied during a live show on any given night.
And then I discovered Clutch Cargo.
A self-described alternative pop-hard rock fusion band based in Tyler, an evening with Clutch Cargo is a joy ride through several genres, spanning several decades as a result of the melding of their own diverse musical backgrounds to form a sound that is sure to please and will keep you new and old listeners alike guessing throughout the show as to what direction they might take next. Between gigs, practices, and day jobs that keep them going full speed most of the time, I managed to steal some time to get to know the band a little better this month:
Johnny: So what is the current lineup of the band?
Clutch Cargo: The band is Austin Goswick, vocals and keys; Greg Wahl on guitar; Tori Pence on guitar; Robin Martin on bass; Matt Coats on drums.
Johnny: How did you all get started in music?
Tori: I grew up with a grandfather that sings Country Gospel music and he always encouraged us to pick up instruments and make music a part of our lives. I’ve had a guitar in my hand since I was 6 years old and have had some lessons and taught myself, learning other instruments such as ukulele, bass, banjo, and drums along the way.
Austin: My first iteration in music happened when I sang in the choir as a kid living in West Texas. After moving to East Texas, I gained experience playing and singing in a worship band, musical theater, opera, and studying music at TVCC and UT Tyler.
Greg: I taught myself to play the guitar when I was 9 years old, and bass and drums shortly followed. I’ve been in bands/musical acts and school musical performances since I was 11. I’ve been playing shows and performing on stages out of town and out of state since 2008.
Robin: I got started kinda late into music. I didn’t find my love of it until I was about 16. I went through several instruments, flute, guitar, saxophone, and drums, before finally finding my love of bass. My dad bought me my first bass for Christmas when I was 18 and I ran with it. I joined the School of Rock in Ft. Worth and studied under Darroh Sudderth of Fair to Midland back when he still managed that location. In and out of bands with Tori, my love of bass has stayed consistent taking influences from Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Futoshi Uehara from Maximum the Hormone, and Rudy Sarzo of…what seems like just about every rock band from the ‘80’s.
Matt: I got my start in music at the age of 8 when I picked up a guitar. I progressed in my playing through the years by attempting to learn any style I could find. I became fluent in rock, country, and blues guitar. All the while, I would take time off to work on my drumming. My drumming style is hard and loud. I am currently the frontman and guitarist for my band The Matt Coats Band and the drummer for Clutch Cargo.
Johnny: How did you guys all meet and when did the idea of the band begin to take shape?
Clutch Cargo: Robin and Tori have been in bands together on and off for the past 9 years in DFW and Tyler. After being in Tyler for about a year, Robin joined a local band with Greg Wahl on drums. Shortly after, Tori joined as well. The band collapsed leading to the departure of Tori, Greg, and Robin. The three of them decided to start a project later becoming Clutch Cargo. We auditioned several vocalists, none of which stuck. Tori invited her coworker Austin, a vocal instructor, to audition for the band. His vocal power and lyrical capability led him to become the lead singer. With the departure of our former drummer came Matt Coats.
Johnny: When and where was the first gig as Clutch Cargo? Anything memorable that sticks out from that show?
Clutch Cargo: Our first gig was a featured spot at Mike’s Open Mic night at Yamato’s Hibachi Grill in Tyler. That show demonstrated the number of people that liked Clutch Cargo and our sound.
Johnny: So about the name? Where did “Clutch Cargo” come from?
Clutch Cargo: During a night of drinking, Greg went on a rant about gigs not being “Clutch Cargo” and Tori wrote it down thinking it would be a good band name for future endeavors. Once our project started taking shape, Tori brought it up as a potential band name and it stuck.
Johnny: So you guys have a style that is a little different than what you’ll find on a lot of the stages around the area. Your EP “Dance” reminds me of a mix of ‘80’s new wave and ‘90’s college rock. How would you describe your sound?
Clutch Cargo: That is a very good description of us. We take pride in being able to fuse many different genres and sounds in our songs.
Johnny: About how many shows are you guys playing a month now?
Clutch Cargo: We are currently playing about two shows a month, however, we are working at increasing that number.
Johnny: You’ve done some studio work in the past with the aforementioned EP release. Anything you took away from that experience that has served you well moving forward, and about how many originals do you currently have in your catalog?
Clutch Cargo: We learned to take our time and not rush things. There is a difference between doing things fast and doing things right. At the moment, we have 13 originals and are working at creating new music.
Johnny: What is coming up on the radar that we should be looking forward to?
Clutch Cargo: We have been working on a new full-length album to come out in November as well as a Breast Cancer Awareness acoustic show on November 9th. We will also have already released our music video for our song “Fast” by the time this issue is out. You can follow us on Instagram (@clutchcargoband), Facebook, and Twitter (@bandclutchcargo) to keep up with upcoming shows.
Johnny: Okay, try to describe for someone coming to their first show what they’re in for?
Clutch Cargo: We are a high energy band that brings many different genres and decades of music to the table. We love to interact and meet new fans as well as having a good time! Come say hi!
Editor’s note: According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of clutch cargo is explained as: “Clutch means awesome, great or perfect. ‘Clutch cargo’ translates to something that you presently think is awesome.”