Those of you into heavy rock have probably heard the name Tommy Clufetos. Having toured with bands such as Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, Tommy is now on the road with none other than UK heavy rock legends, Black Sabbath. Tommy tends to stop by The Great Frog whenever he’s in London, and joined me at the pub down the road to talk about music, touring and his ever growing collection of leather jackets.
You were quite young when you started playing, was there anyone in specific that inspired you to do so?
Yeah, I was seven years old, and my dad was the one who got me into it. He had a band, and he was the one that got me a drum set. From that point on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, easy as that. For most people it’s a pain in the ass figuring that stuff out, but I knew straight away.
What kind of music did your dad play?
50’s and 60’s rock ’n’ roll, which is still my favourite music. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, those guys there.
Have you ever had a ‘normal’ job?
No, never. But this is still a job, even if I do what I love I still approach it like a job and take it very seriously.
You’ve played with various bands and artists (Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper) and now Black Sabbath. It must be quite surreal playing with a band that already existed when you were born?
Oh yeah! I mean, I even think they broke up with Ozzy before I was born – they’ve been doing it longer than I’ve been alive, and it’s a tremendous honour. Everything I’ve done has been a tremendous honour, but this is the peak of it all, not just because they’re Black Sabbath, but because of how they approach the music and still have the drive. It’s respect out of that, more so than the myth of it all, if that makes sense. I see how much work and dedication they put in, and that’s where my respect and admiration comes from.
How has your life changed after you started playing with them?
I’m still just a drummer, I’m not a rockstar. I play drums for rockstars. I like going up on stage, playing the best I can, and get the thrill out of that. After that, I’ll go home and take my dog out for a walk, pick up dog poop, bring my wife coffee, stuff like that.
What do you do when you’re not touring or picking up dog poop?
I play drums, work out, and hang out with my wife. I do everything I can to stay ready for whenever the next gig may be, it’s part of my job to always be ready, cause you never know when you’ll get that ‘Oh we’re going back on tour!’ and you’ll have like five days to get ready, so you can’t let your body and mind go.
I’ve seen you play, and I can imagine it must be hard work to keep going like that night after night.
All of my favourites, whether it’s in music of sport, I like intensity and seeing that they have control of what they’re doing, when they almost look superhuman. Those kind of rock ’n’ rollers were always my favourites, when they were beasts, so I hope to bring a little of that to the stage. It’s rock ’n’ roll, it’s supposed to be full throttle.
Do you go to many gigs yourself?
Rarely, it’s kind of the last thing I want to do. If I do, I’d rather it wasn’t rock ’n’ roll, just because I’m surrounded by it all the time. If it’s jazz or blues, that’s a nice thing to do just because it’s a bit different. You study your craft, but it’s good to get away from it all, and take a breather.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned you were quite into your fashion as well?
I do love clothes, I always have done. I’ve always been very particular about what I was gonna wear, even as a little kid at school I was really into it. I remember looking at rocker dudes with boots, black jeans, tattoos and long hair, thinking ‘THAT’S how I wanna l look when I grow up. Later on my buddy Whitey, who used to play guitar with Iggy Pop and is a fucking great guitarist, got me into rings. He got me my spider ring which I always wear, then a couple of years ago I was going to London and he told me to go to The Great Frog. After that I’ve been to your shop loads of times, you’re all so nice and it’s just a cool vibe in there so I keep coming back. It’s as much about the experience of getting the item, cause if you were a bunch of dicks I wouldn’t wanna wear my rings. It’s the same with all my clothes, it’s kinda nice to look at my leather jacket and remember this nice little shop I stopped by while on tour, and the fun people working there. It’s almost like a thing I do on my days off, sort of like a treasure hunt. Both boots and leather jackets are an addiction of mine, and it’s becoming a problem. I’ve got about 40-45 leather jackets, and just bought another one on eBay today… You’re just on the eternal one for the perfect one which doesn’t exist. I’m still craving more rings as well, I want a skull with a turquoise stone, or maybe one with rubies as eyes. That’ll be my treat to myself next time I’m in London.
Photography: Marianne Pink
Words: Ella Stormark