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Clutch formed in 1991 and built a local following through constant gigging. Following the initial 7" single release of "Passive Restraints" on the Earache label, Clutch was signed by the EastWest Records label. The debut LP, Transnational Speedway League, was released in 1993. It was followed by a self–titled album two years later that afforded Clutch mainstream exposure. The band moved to the larger Columbia label for 1998's Elephant Riders release, and many thought the group might join their sonic cousins Korn and Deftones in the alternative metal winner's circle.

Pure Rock Fury appeared in 2001 on the Atlantic label. The title track was initially released as the first single. The program director for North Carolina rock station, WXQR (Rock 105), Brian Rickman, suggested that the label switch singles to another track from the album, "Careful with that Mic". Atlantic did so, and Clutch was afforded a surprise hit single. The follow–up tracks, "Immortal" and "Open Up the Border" were also well–received by American rock stations.