In a review of The Fierce and the Dead’s sophomore album Spooky Action my friend Roger T wrote about guitarist Matt Stevens that he is a man who deserves some return for his ceaseless hard work battling against the never ending onrushing tsunami of bands in this age of instant communication. I’ve been following Matt’s both solo and TDATD work since the release of his solo album Ghost (2010).
Following The Fierce and the Dead’s recent inclusion on our Progstravaganza sampler, I’ve sent the questionnaire to Matt and here is what his answers look like.
How did you come to do what you do?
By listening to metal then meeting a Guitar Teacher who liked Holdsworth, Mahavishnu and King Crimson. That’s what really started it. Playing in 13/8 when you’re 15 really helps. I really wanted to be in Guns And Roses at the time but I’m grateful now. After that I liked The Smiths and Husker Du, Bad Brains and stuff like that. Carcass. Talking Heads. Charles Ives.
What is your first musical memory?
Listening to The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun and Free – Alright Now on the radio coming from my parents room when I was really little and there used to be a scary kids TV program that used to start with a run down the whole tone scale. I remember that. Kids TV was weird in the late 70’s early 80’s wasn’t it?
What does progress in music represent to you?
Doing new stuff. Rock music is an open goal in terms of the application of modern harmony. Most bands don’t even play inversions. They’re happy to use the vocabulary of others, whereas people like Voivod or Cardiacs had their own thing.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Celtic Frost and old documentaries on Youtube. Mirror writing in public urinals. Religious cults.
What message does the song on our latest Progstravaganza compilation carry?
Ark was actually written for my son and first played live when I supported Daevid Allen from Gong on acoustic guitar then was rearranged for the band. It’s very different now. That’s what happens, the stuff goes through the filter of the band, they change it and add their parts. I think they’re brilliant musicians, very intuitive, although we’re not virtuosos.
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
Someone normally comes in with a riff and it evolves into a song. it’s done as a collective. It’s pretty democratic.
What is your method of songwriting?
They evolve, quite often I’ll have a riff or some chords or a bass line and I’ll bring it in or increasingly one of the other guys will. It’s not set in stone. It depends if I’m writing for the band or solo or someone else.
How do you see your music evolving?
I think we’ll add and subtract more. I can’t see us making another Spooky Action. It’ll be all different again next time or we’re doing something wrong. I love Spooky Action thou and I don’t think we can make a better album in that stye so what would be the point of trying? I want to try vocals, guest vocals. Strings, no guitars and more guitars. I think possibly we need to stop being purely instrumental. Less insular. More messy, nastier and more poppy all at once. I don’t know.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Write a story where Doctor Who meets Del Boy, turn it into a musical and sell it to the internet. Don’t spend any money and play all the characters yourself. Except Space Rodney.
What are you looking forward to?
Teatime and playing live. Fierce And The Dead is all about the live. Celebr8 will be fun and we’re doing a full UK tour in the summer.
• 01/11 New Cross Inn, London (w/ Thumpermonkey)
• 01/31 J.T.Soars, Nottingham (w/ Waking Aida)
• 02/02 Stabbing A Dead Horse 2 @ The Barfly, London (w/ Knifeworld, Trojan Horse)
• 05/31 Celebr8.3 @ Islington Assembly Hall, London
• 06/01 Celebr8.3 @ Islington Assembly Hall, London
• 07/05 Eppyfest 3 @ Lansdown Hall, Stroud
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