This is the last installment in the first round of interviews with The Vertical Gin Line. Meet Matt, a brilliant fucking singer.
MI-What is your birth date?
MI-Describe the music of The Vertical Gin Line to me.
Matt-Much as every artist wants to say they’re eclectic, we’re pretty much a smart-rock band. We play some hard rock, some rock with classical influences, and some progressive style rock. But it’s all rock, just the same.
MI-Tell me the story about how you came up with the band name.
Matt-Well, it’s better than our other suggestions: Inflatable Rat, Tom Has the Clap, and The Get Bents.
MI-Tell me the story about how the band got together.
Matt-Todd and Tom met long, long ago in other projects. I put an ad on the internet, and they answered… they were desperate, so they took me in.
MI-Tell me something you think we should know about everybody in the band and be sure to tell up what the hell they do for the band.
Matt-We have a pretty nice cross section of personalities. Tom, the drummer, is the geeky extrovert, which is sort of an oxymoron, but it works. Todd, the guitarist, is suave and masculine. Alex has a bizarre sense of humor, and when we have Tom Goehring play trumpet, he’s been a quiet virtuoso. I’m the opinionated control freak. Todd and I do all the songwriting, so I think we share the prize for largest ego.
MI-What is it like to play the world famous CBGB’s?
Matt-Even if I were to ignore the historical importance of CB’s, the sound system there is fantastic. Everything sounds better. But CB’s is a great club in general. Because of the name value, you have an audience comprised of all types. People congregate whether they’re familiar with the band or not, which is excellent exposure. Plus, the energy level is higher due to the great names that have played there before.
MI-What is your favorite track off of the new CD and why?
Matt-Hands down, it’s Channel 35. I think it’s our best performance on the album. The song has a lot of subcutaneous energy. The guitars sound excellent, the feedback resolves into chords, the drums are fantastic, and I even like the lyrics for the most part, which is unusual for me. Actually, on this album, I like the lyrics to Strumfinger and Channel 35. It’s rare when I like anything I have to say.
MI-Where do you see the band in five years?
Matt-Well, hopefully on tour with a couple of albums behind us. You never know in this industry, but I’d like to think we’re talented enough to keep doing it for the rest of our lives.
MI-Tell me what you want people to know about you.
Matt-Frankly, if people want to know about me, they need to get hobbies. I’m not that interesting.
MI-Tell me about how you became a musician.
Matt-I started as a writer, really. A friend of mine came to me when I was an angsty, nerdy 13 year old and asked me if I wanted to write lyrics to his music. I said sure. Since he didn’t understand what I was thinking in terms of melodies, he suggested that I sing. Not long after that, I got a guitar and started writing. My biggest mistake was not learning my instrument… I just wrote. I was prolific, but I never mastered the instrument, and I’m kicking myself now. I managed to learn a lot in 12 years of playing, but my strengths are in singing, composing, and production, not playing.
MI-What are your influences as a musician?
Matt-Pearl Jam made me want to sing, but I grew up on Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Jeff Buckley is another big influence. Later, I picked up Radiohead and more progressive artists. I love jazz, too, and it’s had a huge influence in my chord choices.
MI-A lot of bands get labeled as EMO, what is your opinion on EMO?
Matt-EMO is just another brand of alternative or rock. I like that the emphasis is on lyrics and feel for the most part, a departure from the MTV formula, but it’s still just rock in another form.
MI-Tell me about the song NO FLY ZONE.
Matt-No Fly Zone is about apathy. There’s a lot of apathy amongst my generation. We lived through 20 years of economic growth, it’s not mind blowing that we’re all fucking lazy. We feel entitled. And now we have a president and a country that’s being run by a religious ideology, and it’s frightening. They are slowly taking away all our freedoms, and no one seems to notice or care. No Fly Zone is my quiet fuck you. I think it’s time to for people to get moved into action, moved into violence.
MI-Who is the guy on the tricycle?
Matt-He’s the little man who rides the tricycle in all of us.
MI-Tell me about your guest on trumpet, and is he going to become a regular band member?
Matt-Maybe, I don’t know. He’s got his own stuff going on, but he’s an excellent player, and we’re wooing him on a daily basis. He’s played with some great artists as well, so it’s an privilege to get to play with him.
MI-Who would you compare yourself to musically?
Matt-I don’t know really… We’ve been told we sound like Incubus and System of a Down, but I don’t really buy it. I think we’re more along the lines of A Perfect Circle and At the Drive-In.
MI-What inspires your lyrics?
Matt-Everything I can get a hold of. I moved to New York a couple of years ago, and there’s enough in this city to keep you writing a long time.
MI-What makes The Vertical Gin Line the most important band out there?
Matt-We write smart, accessible music. But we’re definitely not the most important band out there. One day maybe.
MI-If a movie were made of your life, what would the theme song be and who would you want to play you?
Matt-My life is way to boring to warrant a movie. The theme song would probably be the Soul Bossanova, and I hope to one day be played by either Tony Danza or Scott Baio.
MI-If I could wave a magic wand and make three things happen for The Vertical Gin Line right now-what would those three things be?
Matt-We’d get signed to a nice deal, we’d have complete creative control, and we could be musicians and live comfortably for the rest of our lives without the help of Clear Channel or “The Establishment”.
MI-Who in the world would you most like to open for and why?
Matt-If it were up to me, Pearl Jam. There aren’t a lot of bands left like Pearl Jam. My generation is devoid of rock longevity, with exception of U2 and maybe R.E.M.
MI-Tell me about your dream record deal and who it would be with.
Matt-I’m entrepreneurial. My ideal record deal involves me owning my label. So my ideal deal is the one I give myself.
MI-Which comic book super hero would you be and why?
Matt-I like anti-heroes. And badasses. Hans Solo, Sin City, and Dream from Sandman. And Carl Seltz from the Hard Boiled series. I read lots of comic books.
MI-Have you ever inhaled?
MI-What are your thoughts on legalizing drugs?
Matt-I don’t really think about it.
MI-If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring one CD, one bottle of liquor, one book, and one person-who and what would you bring?
Matt-Jeff Buckley’s Grace, I don’t drink, Lord of the Rings, and I’d bring Bill Gates (I figure he’d get rescued, and I could tag along).
MI-Who in the world would you most like to dump a bucket of flesh eating ants on?
Matt-I’m not that vindictive, and I don’t hold grudges… I don’t have a very good memory, so I forget to.
MI-What is your favorite movie of all time and why?
Matt-Probably the Godfather and/or Godfather II. I’m Italian.
MI-Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Matt-I was in Providence, RI. I wrote a song or two about it, long ago. It effected everyone in a lot of ways: people lost friends, families lost members, and everyone lost their freedom.
MI-How would YOU have designed a memorial for the victims of 9-11?
Matt-That question sucks. I wouldn’t, but I know I would give them all the damn money from the 9/11 fund.
MI-What are your thoughts about the FREEDOM TOWER that is being put up at ground zero?
Matt-I don’t have any real opinion about the “Freedom Tower”, suffice to say the name is awful. I’m not for advertising, I feel like we’re better off being free rather than touting how free we are in the name of a tower.
MI-What is your opinion on George W. Bush?
Matt-It’s pretty self explanatory.
MI-Do you believe in psychics-why or why not?
Matt-Well, I don’t know if I believe in them, per se, but let’s say I wouldn’t count it out as a possibility.
MI-Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Matt-Not unless you count some of the girls I’ve dated.
MI-If you could have lunch with ANYBODY, living or dead, who would that person be and why?
Matt-It would probably be my mom, who is very much alive. She makes excellent food.
MI-Who in the world would you most like to see The Vertical Gin Line open for and why?
Matt-Ultimately, I’d like to see other people open for us. In lieu of that, I’d like to open for NIN. Trent and the gang put on an amazing live show, I’d love to feed off that energy.
MI-What venue in the world would you most like to play and why?
Matt-Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI. Growing up, that was the standard for “making it” to me, even though it’s a small club in a small town. Great venue, though.
MI-Tell me a joke.
Matt-I don’t do jokes, so I’ll tell you one of my favorites that a friend of mine used to tell in high school: What’d the farmer say when he lost his tractor? He looked around and said, “Where the fuck is my tractor?”
MI-If you were god for a week, what would you do?
Matt-If I were god for a week, I’d assume I’d done everything right all ready. I’d probably just sit back and relax.
MI-Tell me, what is your favorite quote of all time?
Matt-I don’t know many quotes, but in terms of music, Thom Yorke said, “This machine malfunctions brilliantly.” Or something like that.
Thanks Matt! You have a hell of a voice.