Tom Clufetos has been behind the drum kit for some of rocks biggest acts including Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper. Tommy’s newest project is a solo effort titled Tommy’s Rocktrip. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Tommy about the debut solo album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll”, what it was like starting his first solo project and his plans once Covid-19 restrictions are finally lifted.
Adam Lawton: Where did the desire to do a solo project originate from?
Tommy Clufetos: Because of so much being closed due to the pandemic there really has been nothing to do. Especially on the music front and for the first time in my life I had sort of a break. I got an offer to do a record and thought “why not”. It was something I had never done before I wanted to give it a shot and see if I could actually do it. I have always loved playing for other people and helping them be the best they have ever been. I am one hundred and ten percent fulfilled by doing that but this open block of time came up and decided to experiment. I decided on trying to make a cool rock record of things I liked and hope other people will like as well. That was the basis. There was no master plan or anything like that. (Laughs)
AL: Was doing a solo album something you had ever thought of doing before?
TC: No. I had never thought about doing a solo record. I had never written music or produced prior to this. I always just played drums for other people. That’s why I saw it was an “experiment”. I guess you can call me a crazy, middle aged rocker. What you hear on this album is exactly that.
AL: How did you go about putting the band together?
TC: I have known our singer Eric Dover since we worked together in Alice Cooper maybe 15 years ago or more. I knew he would be an excellent singer as he has a very versatile voice. Most of the material on the record is straight ahead rock and roll. Eric knows how to go on the wild side which is how I like my music to be played. I didn’t want this to be a bunch of people from other bands as I was shooting for more of a group effort. I was looking for younger guys who I could sort of shape them into the way I wanted the music played. Sometimes when you are playing with guys from other bands, they may not be completely into what you are doing, or it may be a little more difficult to get out of them what you are looking for. I wanted more of a unified band sound and I think I was successful in doing that.
AL: Did you have a preconceived sound you were going for prior to putting the group together or did the style we hear on the record happen organically once you all started working together?
TC: When I decide something I definitely know where I am going. Even though it may look like I am loose with things once I know where I am going, I turn on that switch and go into hyper mode. I knew exactly what I wanted and was very hands on with this. It is my material so no one was going to tell me how to play my music. It is not that I am not open to suggestion but there was a certain style and attack I was going for. I need both precision and looseness so this thing would rock. Another thing I wanted was this to recorded totally live. We recorded in a barn, set up facing each other with no headphones. All of my favorite albums were recorded that way and they have a certain feel. It can certainly be a lot more work doing things that way but that was the approach and I stuck with it.
AL: Did you have help with the writing of the record or was that all you?
TC: I had never written a song in my life and, then I had to write twelve! I did not know what was going to happen but once I turned that switch, I went the only way I knew. I do not play a lot of instruments so at times I was yapping licks to the guitar player or giving them instructions to try and get out what I was hearing in my head. There was a lot of arduous work but I grinded it out. I did not do demos or anything like because I didn’t want to go too deep into things. I wanted to keep things fresh and on the fly. I had a very strong idea of I wanted everything to be.
AL: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make being you were responsible for more than just drums on this record?
TC: I don’t really think about that. I just tend to go. You have to come up with parts which then need to be recorded so for me I go in there and work things out. There is a lot more grunt work when you do a project like this but there are always elements of grunt work which comes with every album. One thing I have learned from playing with people is that when they are really good you don’t have to say much. When I am playing the drums, I think about the vibe of the music and what people will want to hear and I try to go there and give it to them. Usually that works out for me.
AL: As things start to reopen have you started planning to tour behind the release?
TC: I wouldn’t say there are plans but I also wouldn’t say there are not plans. I am open to whatever present itself. Even though things are starting to open up I think its still to early to think about getting back out there. I am not going to say we won’t tour as this music lends itself to being played live but, we will just have to wait and see.
AL: Do you have anything coming up with any other projects you are involved with?
TC: I just started working with The Dead Daisy’s again and we have a few gigs scheduled for mid-July. I am really looking forward to getting back on some stages and playing loud. I had played with these guys back in 2015 for a couple gigs and they must have liked me because they called me back when they were in of a drummer. I am super happy and looking forward to playing.
For more info on Tommy’s Rocktrip and their album “Beat Up By Rock N’ Roll” click here