I interviewed each of my band mates to find out a little bit more about the recording of the album and their contribution to the ‘Optimist’ campaign. This time it’s Matt’s turn…
What is your name and position in the band?
What instruments / tracks do you play on the album?
Double Bass, Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar, 5 String Banjo
How long have you known the other members of the band?
I met Al, Paul, and Jez at Kingston Uni when I was a wee laddie back in 1989 just when the Stone Roses were at their peak and Oasis hadn’t even started. I met Alex probably 15 years ago when he was singing for “Grand Atlantic”and Jim I’ve known now for 5 years.
Fill us in on the other bands that you’ve been in.
I was in a couple of dodgy Goth bands bands before forming “Shakehole”with Al, Jez and Paul in 1990 and embracing a bit of Britpop. I think we weretually quite good and had a few cracking tunes that still buzz around my head a couple of times a year. At the same time I was in a really fun punk/ska band with another friend of ours (the mighty Jim Wells) and Al used to drum for us whilst wearing a wig. Ask him about his wig if you get the chance. I’m now in three bands (ranging from Motown to Banjo Folk) and love writing songs for all of them.
Describe the recording process for this album. Was it as rock and roll as people envisage?
It was epic. The pressure was on to get the takes right in one or two shots as time was so limited. I had been on holiday so hadn’t had the chance to rehearse with the others which meant lots of improvisation (i.e. mistakes!). But it all just clicked and seeing Al drumming away with a massive grin on his chops was the best thing about the whole experience. Plus the songs were really strong i.e. all killer, no filler.
Pick two or three tracks on the album and describe what they mean to you.
In The Wake is just a knock out single and one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time. It should be No 1 in 15 countries right now. I especially love Paul’s guitar work on the track; at the end he raises the power of the song dramatically and drives it home so beautifully.
The New Regime is a one of my favourites too as I love Kathryn Calder’s backing vocals and the cajun violin solos. The whole piece has a deep south feel to it, plus I got to put banjo on the track, and as we all know the banjo is the most optimistic instrument ever invented. It can change the world!
Leading Eye is close to my heart as it’s one of those songs that was written in 10 minutes at 2am one night and just came out of my guitar fully formed in some mysterious way. I love Alex and Jim’s harmonies throughout and Al’s fantastic drumming really makes it soar from beginning to end giving the whole song a great swing. It’s a good song to travel too, plus my kids now sing it around the house, which is hilarious.
What is your day job?
I am the Director of The Therapeutic Media Company and focus on helping people in need of additional support improve their quality of live through creative media and education initiatives. And in the evening I teach guitar and banjo for fun and organise the odd charity event such as the Bath Banjo Festival www.bathbanjofestival.com in aid of the MND Association.
Who / what are your musical influences?
In order of growing up: The Beatles, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Robert Smith (The Cure), The Cocteau Twins, The Stone Roses, The Dead Milkmen, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pete Seeger (for banjo), and for some reason I now can’t get enough of old Motown hits. They are inspirational.
In a word describe the rest of the members of the band.
Jez – Songsmith
Paul – Maestro
Alex – Talented
Jim – Creative
Alistair – Superhero