Rockscope - The Matches @ The Palladium - April 8, 2008 - Worcester, MA
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The Matches @ The Palladium

April 8, 2008 - Worcester, MA

By Vicky Zeamer

Bassist Justin San Souci

Photos By Vicky Zeamer

Salty Eyes

The Matches Interview

(Our Vicky Zeamer caught up with the members of The Matches in Worcester, MA for a little Q&A.)

Hailing from Oakland, how would you explain your growth from a high school - dare I say - punk and ska band into what you are now?

Jon Devoto: Grew Up? Got older?

Shawn Harris: I don’t think it’s so specific that we got older, that’s the inevitable effect time has on a person. But- its not that it’s another level of maturity or anything like that, it’s just that you tend to morph in the years, you know? Ebb and flow.

J: Things are ever changing. Life is ever changing.

S: You get bored of the same old thing.

The Matches are currently on the Alternative Press Tour, which features All Time Low, Rocket Summer, Sonny, and Forever the Sickest Kids. How do you guys fit into that mix, if at all?

S: We’re the square peg in the circle hole. Actually, Sonny’s the square peg he’s doing something like emo Nine Inch Nails. I don’t know, we generally don’t fit into any tour we tour on. We’re really used to just going out on tour and playing for a bunch of our fans that understand us and feel us, and then complain to us about whatever band we’re touring with even if they’re our favorite band or our least favorite band.

J: And we also see some confused faces in the crowd.

S: Always confused faces in the crowd. We got out with our favorite band that we think makes the most sense with our band, and we see confused faces, and we got out with a band we sound nothing like and we see confused faces there too.

Which leads me to ask… how’s the crowd treating you guys on this tour?

S: They are pretty young in general so… impressionable. I think they’re too scared to heckle or throw anything at us since we’d kick their asses.

J: I think a lot of them are either already Matches fans or confused if they haven’t heard of us or think we’re hot. Like “Oh my god I think they’re hot!” I’ve gotten that a few times and it’s bothered me on this tour.

S: We are used to playing for a crowd that’s generally our age. As we’ve gotten older, our crowds had gotten a little bit older. All Time Low, the guys of the band are like 19 years old.

So you guys are the olden ones? That’s okay, because with age comes wisdom.

J: We’re the only ones on this tour that can grow beards.

S: Why is the word dumb in wisdom?

To make you second guess it? And if you truly have the wisdom you can understand it.

J: Actually I think it comes from the Latin word ‘dome-a-ray’

S: The prefix of wisdom would be wise. So whys dumb?

J: Dom, Domary, as in… kingdom, the massive span of our wiseness. I completely made that up.

S: I knew you were making it up when you said ‘dome-a-ray.’

Vicky: To quote Julie Andrews…

Well then, what bands would you want to tour with?

S: Julie Andrews.

J: We actually have whole band meetings trying to figure out who we should tour with. We can’t figure it out.

I hate to hit on a sad topic, but do you have any theories on why Decomposer did not do as well as you were hoping?

S: Because why should it? Why should our band be popular? Why should any band be popular? Why does any band become popular? Well it’s really a crapshoot. It’s hard to say, you can’t bet on it. If we look at our favorite bands, many of them are smaller than us.

Sometimes as soon as they get big they aren’t your favorites anymore.

S: No, that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes great bands get huge, but more often crappy bands get huge and you simply can’t base your music on record sales. You have to sell records to make another CD, and to stay on the road, and that’s unfortunate selling music because music is art and it sucks selling art too.

It sucks selling any creative venture. You kind of have to in order to have a budget to do more of it. It’s kind of the sad truth. In the music business, labels and those types of people like lawyers will tend to focus on your record sales as your measure of success.

Yeah, that gets kind of confusing and if your heads not on straight that can get distracting. We were just young and a lot of people were just telling us a lot of things we shouldn’t have been listening to. It’s inevitable when someone doesn’t bring us the Billboard charts on a silver platter with our names on top of it. But that’s simply not realistic.

A few days after A Band in Hope’s leak, a blog was posted concerning payment for this earlier than planned release. Not in the form of money but good deeds. What were some of the most interesting stories you received?

S: Some girls in New York City decorated a tree in Central Park and put ornaments on it. The ornaments had words to our songs. Some people draw us pictures, but we really want videos.

How many do you get a day?

S: Maybe 10, or so?

Shawn, you co-directed Salty Eyes and are working on the soon to be released Yankees in the Chip Shop video, which obviously consumes a large portion of your time and creative energy. Can you explain its concept?

S: We shot a video for Yankees that we’re really excited about. It’s pretty much the opposite of [Wake the Sun]. It looks like the complete opposite of the video.

Justin San Souci: It looks like the video you’d expect us to make. Since, we made it.

S: I wouldn’t say it’s predictable in that since. It’s not like; well, very few bands have a video like it. It’s pretty candid, as we shot it in London and its all real footage, no acting in it or anything. The concepts pretty fun, just a fun video and I’m really excited about it.

J: We are not good actors so; we shouldn’t be acting in music videos.

There’s a definite change in mood and sound between Decomposer and A Band in Hope, how would you sum it up, or explain that change?

S: On Decomposer we were pretty pent up. It sounds really frenetic, sort of up tight and restricted to me, not restricted in a bad way, just uptight. So, we just sort of exhaled in this new record. We worried a little less about trying to make a cohesive album and tempos and songs try to flow into each other. We just wrote about what was going on in our heads. It’s too eclectic for some people, but that’s just generally who we are. I think with more albums we put out, the people it appeals to will become our fans, and the people it doesn’t appeal to, I think they’ll see they might not be the fans for us.

People seem to keep on wanting us to find a particular little niche and fill that. I think the sound is the sound of our band.

What inspired the song on A Band in Hope, “24C” because I, amongst many other people, would never expect anything like that sound from the Matches?

S: Well… it’s about… the collapse, mental collapse, amongst and relationship collapse. It’s pretty nonfiction narrative, first person…

When you write and make the music to go along with lyrics, is it almost like a movie playing in your head and your just trying to find what sounds would go along with that moment?

S: Yeah, but, well, when I’m writing a song I’m not necessarily writing to pictures kind of the words and the music form the pictures in my head. It’s not the other way around, like the pictures in my head trying to find words or sounds. It’s complicated actually, because the language of raw emotion, I guess I’ve found is kind of a cliché language. You know?

[This is the reason] why a lot of intense emotional music tends to also seem cliché. It’s because that’s sort of the language of love, and heartbreak and hurt and happiness and pain, and all these intense feelings.

There’s just one way to say it, I’m fucking happy. And if you want to get illustrative with it, then you just go more dramatic, “I bleed, I do this, I do that.” Though it’s interesting to interpret an emotion without trying to avoid clichés, which sets apart music I like from your more typical fare.

Can you just quickly explain The Matches new icon, the white flags?

S: Flags in general are national, proud, unifying symbols, except for the white flag which is a symbol of surrender and giving up. As we are all about contradictions, with everything we do, and we love to embrace that and thought, “why not make our emblem the white flag and fly it proudly.”

Your artistic outlets aren’t just limited to sound waves, but a fair share of share of visual representation is present in your scheme of things. Despite a common red color scheme, you all manage to still remain individuals. Can you describe your own personal style?

S: I like surreal vivid sort of dreamy landscapes and soundscapes really, if we are talking about art or music. There’s something about reality that I find easier to relate to, or tap into, using fantasy or a dream state sort of set of rule. To explain elated or something like that, floating always works better than saying “I’m elating.”

Do you think that it is important, and often lacking these days for music artists to expand their artistic vision beyond not just their music but also their videos, album art, and other forms of media?

S: There is something intimate about a band that has input on their art or videos. It just means that more of what you see is a communication straight from the band. That said, there are some great artists that are doing album art like Alex Pardee and Rob Dobi. All kind of artists are doing really cool album art stuff, so I wouldn’t say that any great band should be drawing their album covers or videos.

There are some amazing directors out there too. There’s like… a separation and appreciation for like ‘This is Rob Dobi’s impression of Big D and the Kids Table right. But- when I work on our album art or videos, I feel like I’m relaying a song, like Yankees in the Chip Shop, to people and then I get to have a two-fold layer with a different take on my first. There is something a bit more communicated through that.

I’ve always been a fan of bands that have players that serve more than one role, but that’s probable just because I relate more to those people. Like Adam Jones from Tool, doing their clay-mation videos, been a fan since I was a kid. I always liked their videos, but I thought they were a little creepy and weird.

Sometimes that’s intriguing though.

S: Yes, absolutely! Then when I found out the guy in the band did it, I started loving their band.

Some songs off of E. Von Dahl are titled “Destination: Nowhere Near” and “The Restless,” and convey the feelings of restlessness and inability to be happy in one place in the world. Years later, do these feelings still remain?

S: Yeah, but our first record was all stir crazy and about us wanting to get the hell out of our hometown. Now song titles may be more like “Destination: Where I grew up,” or something like that. There’s a certain longing for simpler life. Like a dog, an apartment, things we just don’t get to have. But there are trade offs. While it’s harder to find love, an apartment and a dog, we do get to just harvest little bits of love from a bunch of people every night. That feels really nice, as well. Something about a connection you can have on the stage with hundreds of people all at once that’s really inspiring and fulfilling. It’s almost like church for atheists.

Any last words? Things you want to throw out there?

S: It’ll never be my last word, well until my last words; I wonder what my last words will be? Ever and never probably won’t be my first selection on last words. Follow your bliss.

By Vicky Zeamer

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