Friday, December 30, 2016

An Interview With Australian Blues Influenced Guitarist and Songwriter Matty T.Wall

A young man with an old soul: Matty is connected to music with a wealth of history as he distills a diversity of genres into his own blues-influenced soul, jazz, and rock signature. For Matty T.Wall - a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader – it is the supernatural sound that crossed the ocean to Perth, Australia to ignite his imagination and give power to his art.

His points of references are wide; he has studied and played a spectrum of styles including flamenco, swing jazz and funk, and he attests to a love for “heavier things” in his youth, bands like Metallica and Sepultura among them. But he remembers how the musicians he admired would honor the blues masters who came before them. And following the trail of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan backward, he was hooked.

Matty T.wall has been featured previously on this blog (see original post here). I recently caught up with him (via email) and fired a few challenging questions....

What was your first exposure to the blues?
I was actually exposed to blues without realising it when I was younger. My dad would always be playing Eric Clapton in the house, so that blues influence was always there. When I was in my teens, I heard Gary Moore's "Still Got The Blues" album and was absolutely BLOWN AWAY. I was into Metallica and Joe Satriani at the time, so hearing Gary Moore play blues in this way was very appealing to me. My first "real" USA blues influence was a video that my older brother had called "Blues Alive" - It had some incredible performances by Buddy Guy and Albert Collins. That's where I really got to know how blues music worked.
Are there any guitarists that have influenced your style?
Way too many to list, so I will just name a few - maybe. Eric Clapton's phrasing always impressed me. Stevie Ray Vaughan's intensity blows me away. John Scofield's 'out there' note choices are great, whilst maintaining that blues base, Django Reinhardt's swing feel combined with his attack is very appealing to me also. Albert Collins awkward but fiery style is a favourite too. I was mostly attracted to very intense styles of playing though. These are just a few influences, however there are many. As a teenager, I obsessively studied James Hetfield's (Metallica) approach to rhythm playing and that has become a part of my style also. I can't finish this paragraph without mentioning Jimi Hendrix though - talk about innovation.
Do you like to emulate other guitarist styles or do want to be totally original?
Ideally, I want my own voice on the instrument. These days, I am not trying to play like anyone. I would rather try new things that are interesting to me and try to keep them sounding cool within the feel of blues, to create a personal style. There is a reason I play SG customs - I don't want to play Stratocasters or Les Pauls like everyone else. Picking a different instrument that most other blues players use goes a long way to playing the guitar in a different way. Albert Collins was very outspoken about this, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. Find your own voice.
I can't 100% say that parts of my playing don't sound like other artists. That is just part of the journey when trying to find your own sound.
Did leaving Perth expand your musical knowledge and help to hone your talents?
Touring in other cities and playing with other artists DEFINITELY makes you realize how good you have to be in this industry to get heard. It was quite a reality check playing alongside some incredible musicians and discovering that I have a long way to go. You are forced to get better or accept a certain standard. Motivation is one of the most important things when it comes to working on your instrument, you have to use everything as a source of motivation, stay positive and not let it bring you down.
What other music do you listen to when you are not playing?
All sorts. Could be Tchaikovsky, could be Pantera, anything that gives me goosebumps! I always try to keep my blues roots though, so I might come back to John Lee Hooker or RL Burnside etc. to make that happen if I stray too far! Right now I am listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley. Damn, he is a great vocalist!
How would you compare the blues scene in Australia to other parts of the world?
The blues scene in Australia is really quite strong and there are always blues festivals in Australian happening all throughout the year. Many different types of blues are popular here, however due to the vast distances needed to tour this country, the "solo artist" - acoustic, or electric with loop pedals seems to be pretty well represented. As per normal, there are 'blues purists' who prefer a very authentic style, however, the Australian mentality is very laid back and open-minded which is good when playing blues that pushes the boundaries. As I like to do.
Do you have 5 favorite albums you would take to a desert island?
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood
Van Halen - Van Halen
Jimi Hendrix - Band Of Gypsys
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Pearl Jam - Ten
I can think of quite a few more, but this would be a start.
What would you say any aspiring young guitarists who are also passionate about playing music?
Listen to music that you are passionate about - don't care what other people think. Play music that you are passionate about - don't care what others think. Work on your instrument daily - even if just for 10 minutes -make it a routine - these days the standards are pretty high, so you need solid skills. Once your playing technique is good, then "phrasing" becomes THE most important thing - it is how your music communicates with the listener.
There is always something new to work on in the music industry, whether it be stage presence, marketing, song writing - embrace it all and don't let it get you down. There is no such success like "X-Factor". Opportunities will come up - just work to be the best you can be and you will be rewarded with the satisfaction that comes along with it. Things started happening for me when I decided to really pursue music because it makes others happy when I play, rather than for personal reasons. Play music to make this world a more interesting and enjoyable place for others - detach yourself from the ego and things become so much easier and fun.
Is there any one special place you would like to do a gig at?
Coming full circle to talking about that "Blues Alive" video I used to watch as a young boy, it would have to be Buddy Guy's "Legends" bar in Chicago. That is where Albert Collins and Buddy Guy were filmed in that video, and really is the ultimate blues venue that I would like to play at. I hope I can get there someday.

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