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ALMOST A Dirty Dozen with MATT PLESS – February 2019

| 5 February 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Baltimore, MD Folk-Punk Singer/Songwriter MATT PLESS has returned to his 2013 released masterpiece Tumbleweed with a re-recording of the acoustic 12 track LP. Invoking the lyrical brilliance of BOB DYLAN, the instrumental diversity of THE VIOLENT FEMMES, and the folkish undertones of FLOGGING MOLLY, Tumbleweed is an explosion of dynamic discordance, mixing driving, confrontational punk acoustic jams with gentle, canorous melodies. The opening track for the album, “Ashtray,” is the perfect introduction to this uniquely focused musician’s fusion of rock, Americana, and acoustic folk.” We get Matt to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

My latest release is a re-recording of an older album called Tumbleweed. I decided to give the album a more updated treatment with better recording quality. The original version was recorded quickly and poorly, by my standards, due to lack of funds for a proper studio and the need for an album to take on tour back in 2013. Over the next few years, it became bootlegged around the underground music circuit and gained a bit of a cult following. A guy who ran a garage-based indie label released it on vinyl a while back and then uploaded it to Spotify and a bunch of other online streaming sites without my permission. When I finally got him to take it down, Spotify wouldn’t let me upload the original files again due to the fact that it was already uploaded once under the guy at the now defunct indie labels name. So re-recording the album, wasn’t only needed for my own artistic sanity, but necessary to have the collection of songs made available to the public. The first time you listen to it, the songs will get stuck in your head. The second time you listen, the lyrics will change your mind. Any subsequent listens will hopefully continue to expose you to deeper meanings and ideas layered within the words. I like to think most of my writing operates in such a fashion to the listener.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

The first time I realized I wanted to be a musician was after watching The Monkees TV show as a child. I was probably 7 years old. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish it but I started out by cutting up paper into the shape of vinyl records and jackets, coloring them in to look like actual discs and playing them on a fisher price turntable to my parents while I sang the songs acapella. The moment I knew I wanted to play music for the rest of my life was when I hit the stage at my high school talent contest. My first punk band played and, although we lost the completion, I gained that fire inside that would inspire me to find a way to make this dream a reality on whatever level I could. It felt like a bright flash of energy exploding in me. The combination of loud music, a rowdy audience, and a blinding spotlight tangled together set me on the road I’ve traveled ever since.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

As I said, The Monkees probably started things off. I decided to put the pieces into motion toward forming a musical project of some sort after seeing a local band called Bulbous play at a church show back in high school. They weren’t very good, but they did have a little fan base of friends and a couple of cute girls hanging around them. I dug the whole idea of being in a band, promoting shows with homemade fliers, releasing albums and having a gang of misfits all working towards the same goal of creating music and having a good time. I started hanging out with the guys in Bulbous after school learning whatever I could and planting the seeds that would eventually grow into my own rock ‘n roll vision.  From there I would say my first actual band was heavily influenced by Green Day while watching a video of one of their concerts with a friend. We decided that night to form a group that would shoot for the goal of having a mosh pit as big as theirs someday.  My solo work was the product of punk rock and Bob Dylan after getting stoned and listening to one of his greatest hits records alone in my room the week after September 11th.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Bob Dylan. So I could teach him a thing or two in exchange for what he has taught me.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

My music is a combination of witty thought provoking lyrics and catchy heart-string-yanking melodies delivered in a hypnotic or upbeat style that will leave you singing along when you least expect it. I don’t think anyone has ever compared me to an artist I dislike. Usually, I get thrown in there with some of the best singer-songwriters in history. I have no complaints.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Doing interviews. Not really, I would say maybe the fact that being a musician tends to keep the childlike spirit inside of us alive for much longer than, say, being an accountant does. You get to travel and see the world. Also, writing songs is like having kids. You get to make them, throw them out into the world, see how they grow, and how they affect other people and you don’t have to change any diapers or worry about them getting in car wrecks or expelled from school.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Me cooks, Myself gets the drinks, and I am the first to crack out the acoustic guitars for singalongs.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

One time I was working as a stage hand and I had to go buy Prince a boom box or he wouldn’t go on stage. One of his goons gave me 800 bucks in cash to rush out and make the purchase. I scrambled to nearest electronics store and flashed my Prince Backstage Pass and was rushed the front of the line. After obtaining the boom box, I hightailed it back to the venue where Prince was scheduled to perform at 7 pm. The guy from Prince’s crew who gave me the money and instructions, took the change and told me to take the boom box to Prince’s dressing room. I walked up the long dark staircase leading to a doorway with a purple curtain fully expecting to encounter Prince. Instead one of his 8-foot bodyguards appeared from behind the curtain, took the boom box from my hands and disappeared into the dressing room. I was pretty let down. Later that night, after the show, I and a few other stagehands were hanging in a tiny room in the basement of the venue talking about the day’s events. Out of nowhere, Prince walked through one of the room’s doors and out the other with 2 huge bodyguards flanking him.  The other stage hands and I went silent. He passed by in a green suit, looking down at the floor. As he passed me, he looked up for a second, looked me straight in the eye, and then kept on moving. I knew at that moment Prince had bestowed some of his otherworldly powers onto my soul. Though I didn’t meet him officially, that split second of being in such close proximity to him was about as star struck as I’ve ever been.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Something where I had a lot of downtime to do what I want, make a lot of money and travel the world. Definitely something where I had no boss or something which required me to indulge in a plethora of wild and crazy behavior.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I would regret having regrets so, I guess not.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 revisited because it was such a monumental session that changed everything that came after it. Bob Dylan is cloaked in mystery so I would have enjoyed seeing what he was like during his creative peak. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles for basically the same reason and I would like to have seen how such an advanced record for its time managed to be recorded on a 4-track. Green Day’s Dookie because those guys seem like a fun bunch of kids to have hung out with.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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