Clutch, The Bakerton Group, King Hobo, Wino
Jean-Paul Gaster is considered by many fans to be carrying the torch of John Bonham-Earth-shaking power and impressive fluidity matched with a precise touch and deep groove - into today's generation. But he's so much more than someone carrying on a legacy of one of "The Greats"; he's a great drummer with a style all his own.
Gaster proudly sites a wide range of influences from Elvin Jones to the Bad Brains' Earl Hudson to the go-go music native to the Washington D.C. area of his childhood. In his early twenties - and already with a couple years of road experience - Jean-Paul realized that he wanted to spend his life playing drums. He began studying with renowned D.C. jazz-drummer/teacher Walter Salb, under whom Jean-Paul learned about playing time, was exposed to Ted Reed's seminal drum-book "Syncopation" (which he continues to study daily), and soaked in Salb's weekly big-band rehearsals, saying "Just watching those rehearsals was a lesson in itself". Gaster has turned that instruction and his eclectic tastes into one of the true hidden gems of music today.
Jean-Paul's main gig is with rock's reigning groove-kings, Clutch. The band has carved out their place in the music industry for over twenty years and Gaster and his band-mates have shown constant musical evolution and a versatility to deliver everything from Black Sabbath-like heaviness to nitty-gritty blues with equal authenticity. All the while, the drummer utilizes his love of jazz to bring a swinging feel sorely lacking in today's rock.
That jazzy ethos and a desire to stretch out stylistically are some of the main factors that led to Gaster and the rest of Clutch forming their instrumental alter-ego: The Bakerton Group. Clutch and the Bakerton Group see their music released courtesy of the band's own record label, Weathermaker Music. From the early days of playing shows in the D.C. punk scene, Jean-Paul and the guys have demonstrated a DIY mentality and, in the drummer's corner, this not only manifests through his part in Weathermaker Music, but in the recording studio he set in his house.
Gaster's studio serves as place-of-origin for all of Clutch's - and The Bakerton Group's - music. All of the band's jams are recorded in order to capture riffs and inspiration that otherwise might disappear into the musical ether. While Gaster says that "my home is a pre-production studio. I'd rather not be at the helm when it's time to record the albums, but I very much enjoy recording the demos", experimentation and improvisation at the home-base - both on the instruments and on the recording equipment - often fuels the end result.
Outside of Clutch, Jean-Paul's dedication to groove has not gone unnoticed. He was asked by noted doom-metal guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich to play on the album Punctuated Equilibrium (2009) and is also a founding member of King Hobo. What started out as jam sessions with Per Wiberg, Opeth's keyboardist, under the mantra of "get funky or get out", turned into a legitimate band with the addition of Thomas Andersson (guitar) and Ulf Rockis (bass). King Hobo's self-titled album was released in 2008 and the group expects to complete the follow-up in the near future. Jean-Paul mused on the mostly-European project by saying "A lot of times there's not a lot of English being spoken [laughs]. So you sort of just figure it out. But, you know, that's the beauty of music - you shouldn't have to say much. Just listen to one another and make something happen".