July 06, 2015

Matt Stevens: the Innerviews interview

An in-depth interview by music journalist Anil Prasad with guitarist Matt Stevens on the Innerviews website. About how he got started as a solo artist with his acoustic and a loop pedal:

I started off very metal then I got into Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Hüsker Dü, Bad Brains, The Smiths, Radiohead and Television via the KLF and Portishead. Somewhere in there I also got into Miles Davis and Joe Pass. It’s all had an impact. Having guitar lessons from someone who was very into unusual chords was really useful. If you’re playing anything other than the root note at the bottom of a chord, it’s already different to 99 percent of what most bands are doing. My tutor, Richard Beaumont, had me playing “Dance of Maya” by Mahavishnu Orchestra when most kids were learning “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” After that I spent most of my 20s playing in various London indie rock and metal bands. About 10 years ago, the band I was in split up and I was left with an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal and no transport, so solo guitar loop music seemed like a good plan. I could travel on the tube in London and do gigs. It was a practical solution. I was really into layered guitar like Johnny Marr and I wanted to combine that with the Mahavishnu-type chord progressions. No band I played with wanted to do that, so I thought I’d just do it myself.

On being a member of post-punk prog rock quartet The Fierce And The Dead:

The band’s music is about the relationship between the four players. I’ve known the guys for 20 years—since I was in school. We’re trying to take our punk and hardcore influences and mix them with Mahavishnu and King Crimson, but that’s looking at the music afterwards. We’ve done a couple of albums and have been well-received at some proggy festivals. There’s a lot of passion. We put on quite an aggressive rock show. At some of these prog events, some people go “What the bloody hell is this?” It’s a recontextualization of something you might see at a punk rock show, but punks don’t typically play inversions or chords in 13/8. So when you see the two things together in a prog concert, it’s unusual. When King Crimson came out with Discipline, many felt it was a new statement for rock. But people had done it before. It was just a recontextualization. I think in general, when people say something is new, what it usually is reflects taking an idea from one thing and moving it somewhere else. The band has real chemistry. Two of us can make eye contact and immediately play interesting parts that work together. It’s a great band.

Stevens has a couple of UK gigs lined up:

Solo acoustic:
  • 07/25 Belfast Guitar Festival
  • 10/21 Jazz Cafe, London (w/ Jon Gomm)
  • 11/07 The Stables, Milton Keynes (w/ Steve Rothery)
With The Fierce And The Dead:

» mattstevensguitar.com

HCTF review of Lucid.

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