Feature Friday- Matt Stevens

Posted: March 11, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Interview
Tags: , ,

Okay, I listened to his album once and I knew I had to bring this guy in for questioning. His sound is so unique and he is so completely talented that to not pick his brain would be a crime against humanity. He’s a great guy just to speak to and just an all around nice person, so check out what he has to say. AND, if you didn’t download his EP, freaking do it already.


Ben: When did you first pick up a guitar?

When I was about 14. I’d heard Guns N Roses and wanted to be Slash and failed. I was actually really lucky because the local guitar teacher was a guy called Richard Beaumont, an amazing musician and he showed me all these odd chords and strange timings. Brilliant and inspiring fella. I was rubbish at copying other people so I was forced to do things my own way.

B: How would you define your solo music by genre?

Now this is quite a difficult one. Some say Post Rock some say Prog although I’m not really sure myself. Instrumental stuff. Its not aimed at anyone – I just do it because I like the music. The only audience is me and a couple of mates. Soundtracky stuff?

B: What gave you the idea for an almost full acoustic-guitar orchestra?

It came out of necessity really. The band I was in split up and I ended up just with a guitar and a few pedals and had to do what I could with what I had and most importantly carry around on the tube with me. I’ve always really liked layered stuff like Radiohead or The Smiths so I wanted to keep going with that.

B: What device to do you use to loop it all together?

Its a delay pedal that does a bit of looping called a Line 6 DL4, there isn’t even an undo button so you have to get it right first time. I have an Echoplex and a Ambleton rig but I’ve never got round to learning how to use them – I love the simplicty of the DL4. You can only store one loop and there is no sync option but it’s really raw and it’s you against the world when you play live. Fun indeed.

B: I’m assuming that with one instrument, writing separate parts must be difficult. How do you write and play the parts without having it all blend together?

You learn a lot about arranging from doing stuff like this I suppose. I love bands like Radiohead and The Smiths who use intricate mulitple guitar parts to create these massive sounds. You learn to voice things in certain ways to make it work, you end up reharmonizing things and using lots of unusual chords to make it different, it really pushed you as a musician.

B: What has been your favorite place to play/tour experience?

Playing supports with bands is my favorite really. at the moment because you get to play to a few hundred people and its in a venue with a stage. A lot of the stuff I do is opening for rock bands and its great, especially now as people are starting to know my music. I’ve been bloody lucky.

B: What bands do you feel influence your music?

My influences are Death Metal, King Crimson, Wilco, Battles, The Smiths, Husker Du, John Barry, Radiohead, Lefte Banke – stuff like that. I’m not really sure how it fits in to be honest. Its all filtered through one bloke and a few guitar pedals.

B: What kind of guitar do you play?

A knackered Ibanez acoustic with a hole it it, I found it for £100 badly bashed up in a second hand guitar shop and I fixed it up and put a pickup in it. Its perfect for me as the action is really high and its hard to play and it slows me down and makes me think about what I am playing.

B: Where do you come up with the inspiration for your music?

A lot of it is really personal stuff. The song titles relate to where I used to live in place called Rushden and a lot of it relates to that, Typical town where nothing happens but there are lots of really good musicians cause there is nothing else to do! I enjoy film soundtrack and interesting chords and it all comes from there. I come up with a lot of stuff but I like to keep challenging myself by changing the working methods and people I work with all the time. I don’t think the way to make good records is to repeat your past successes.

B: What is The Fierce and The Dead?

My band project with some friends I’ve played with for years.  We record it pretty much live then it gets lots of interesting production on it. We released a single last year that was 19 minutes long and we’ve got an album coming out this year, its pretty much all recorded. The delays with the album are really frustrating because I get asked all the time when is it coming out but I have no control of it, its a collaborative project and I’m just the guitarist/writer. Its atmospheric instrumental stuff with a full band. The single did pretty well and got good reviews. I’m really proud of it and the other guys in the band are really talented.

B: As an independent musician, how difficult has it been for you to get the word out about your music?

Getting better all the time really. Pay what you want really helps – letting people hear the music instead of locking it behind paywalls. Torrenting really helps you to build an audience, people sharing your music. They only share the music they like, its a compliment really. I’d be more worried if I wasn’t on torrents. The old industry is broken, lets make a new one.

The best thing that has happened is the podcasters and bloggers have spread the word about my music, they have been really supportive.  Word of mouth then press then radio, it all happened gradually. Echoes, the station that plays my music in the US has a 1/4 million listeners over 130 stations and some of the blogs and magazines have thousands of readers.
The best thing is that a lot of the time, rather than me hassling people to play/listen to the music, they found it naturally over time. Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine has been really helpful. The only problem is there is so much new music its difficult for new artists, it’s a lot of work to engage with and build an audience. I’m lucky that I really like the audience I have, bloody lovely people.
This guy is seriously freaking talented. If you’ve read all of this and you want to hear his stuff, check out out review of his last album.

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