Clutch's twelfth studio album, Book of Bad Decisions was recorded over three weeks at Sputnik Studios in Nashville, TN with four-time Grammy winning producer Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys). No stranger to the road, Powell spent three days on tour with the band in order to get a feel for what they do best, watching first from the front of house and then from the stage, checking out the live sound and how Clutchconnect with their audience. "I never go into a record having an idea of how it's gonna sound," he says. "But after hearing them live, I had an idea of how they could sound. I'm a big live recording fan, so I like when bands play together and I didn't wanna get into that manufacturing a record concept. I wanted it to be real organic."
Powell took great care to get guitar tones just right and make sure that each song had its own identity. "Vance is all about vintage guitar sounds," says guitarist Tim Sult. "I probably had more amplifier options than on any other album we've done. It was like going back to a music store in 1960! This was the first time I've ever recorded with amps from the '50s and I ended up buying a couple of '50s amps while we were in Nashville." "I felt really good about the gear that I was bringing into the studio," concurs bassist Dan Maines, "but Vance had this 1974 Ampeg and I'm so glad that he recommended that. As soon as we plugged it in, it sounded like Sabbath! We ended up using it alongside one of my amps, and I loved it so much that once we were done recording I scoured the ads for another one. What I really like is that each song has a different tone to it, and I think that's Vance Powell's style."
With each band member contributing riffs to the album there was no shortage of material, each song road-tested long before it reached the studio. Always wary of repeating themselves and retreading old ground, there is even – for the first time on a Clutch album – a horn section on the song "In Walks Barbarella." One thing, however, that is entirely as expected, is that as arguably the greatest rock lyricist of modern times, Neil Fallon has provided some interesting subject matter, everything from poets to presidents and recipes to rock ‘n' roll. "A Good Fire" relates the memory of hearing Black Sabbath for the first time – something that everyone can relate to – while "Sonic Counselor" pays homage to Clutch fans.