An Incomplete History of Clutch Douglass’ Journey Back to the ’80s

Co-starring Nirvana, R.E.M., Michael Jackson, and Get Juicy.

December 31, 1989 According to the Gregorian calendar, the 1980s conclude. Or they end a year to the day later, depending on whether you’re discussing this with a coterie of history nerds and how many Guinness stouts they’ve imbibed.

Corey Paganucci and Rachael Ferguson of Clutch Douglass, the impossibly catchy Seattle duo so heavily influenced by ’80s New Wave that they just skirt having to cut Missing Persons royalty checks, are 16 and 7 years old, respectively.

January 11, 1992 Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind hits #1 on the Billboard charts, flicking aside Michael Jackson’s Dangerous like an errant glob of hair gel. Smart kids and outcasts everywhere (and the considerable intersection of the two) rejoice, albeit with suitably glum expressions, that Nirvana has done what the equally acclaimed R.E.M., Replacements, Husker Du, and Public Enemy could not. The ’80s, with all its sequins, shoulder pads, and aforementioned hair gel, finally are over. It occurs to no one that, like Glenn Close lying prone in the tub before the gunshot wound in Fatal Attraction, the ’80s merely seem dead.

“I read an article recently that claimed VH1 is responsible for all the ’80s nostalgia,” says Paganucci. “I guess the writer was assuming that there are no creative people over 30. New Wave was very influential for me, especially because I was just starting to understand how important music was to me at that time.”

1994 Nearly concurrent with Kurt Cobain’s tragic suicide, Hootie and the Blowfish arise and suddenly Darius Rucker is everywhere in that fucking baseball cap, singing that he “only wants to be with you.” One hears the ’80s returning, like the sound of a thousand frat-boy high fives.

Notes Ferguson sardonically, “Classifications and quantifying. How fun! I think we stick to the rule of ‘If it sounds good, it is good.'” She has a point. On Clutch Douglass’ EP Get Juicy (available free at clutchdouglass.com), her vocals on “Saxophone Girl” and “Disconnected” thrust against Paganucci’s pulsing synths. The result is a glorious and eminently danceable pastiche of contemporary indie pop that echoes what one might have heard on a Human League 45 “back when such a thing existed.”

December 2008 Clutch Douglass forms when Paganucci and Ferguson, working together at a design firm, realize both their musical projects would benefit greatly from collaboration—and their instincts are spot-on. The old adage maintains that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it; Clutch Douglass knows their history just fine, thank you, and in this case, we’re all lucky for the second go-round.

Saturday, January 22, 2011 Clutch Douglass will perform at West Seattle’s Skylark. Says Paganucci, “After a show, a guy I didn’t know told me our song ‘Get Juicy’ made him want to dance naked. That’s all we want.”

music@seattleweekly.com

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