Matty D – an Xperience Interview
Written by Staff on November 10, 2023
Matty D – an Xperience Interview with Seth Casale.
Watching any of Matty D’s many projects, one might think he is a true rock star in every sense down to the seemingly destructive way he uses his voice. Getting to know him a bit better, you find that he possesses a remarkable ability to recover from destructive shows for the next night’s repeat and that he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you will find in the local music scene.
RRX: We first met over 10 years ago, and neither of us were doing music at the time. In just a few words how would you characterize yourself then, and now?
MD: Then; I would say working-class schlub. And now, I would say; Living my best life.
RRX: What were some of your early influences in music and how did they shape your music career and aesthetic in general?
MD: It’s interesting because the first music I listened to, I didn’t grow up in a house where music was on all the time, I took 7 years of piano lessons and stuff but at home, if we were listening to music it was different weird stuff something like Manheim Steamroller, or Enya or something. When I got into my teenage years, I was listening to Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and all those classic rock blues guys until I got into those 90’s grunge bands, Soundgarden and Chris Cornell in particular. They were sort of my favorite, and he was definitely my favorite vocalist. My Dream job then and now would be to sing for Soundgarden.
RRX: Have you ever auditioned for one of those more established bands, and didn’t get it, or had to face something like that?
MD: No not really, but I did send in a tape to sing the national anthem somewhere once and got turned down. I never felt like that was a big failure or loss, I never walked into a spot where I was auditioning to be the lead singer of something generally at all. Often people are reaching out to me with gigs or looking for gigs for themselves.
RRX: Do you feel a responsibility, is it incumbent on you to help people in this local community, or is it truly purely altruistic motivation?
MD: When you put it that way, I think it’s actually both. It’s a chance to pay it forward, to pay it back, and that works differently for each person I’m interacting with. I think it’s a responsibility for anybody who is blessed with some talent and can live a bit of this life, this dream life, you’ve got to give something back because you’ve got other people out there with talent that, like I was for 37 years, haven’t broken out of their shell. You have to help them break out of their shell, or even once they have, to challenge them in new or interesting ways.
RRX: Who was that for you? Who was there in your early music career that helped give you that leg up?
MD: It really all started back in Jared Archambeault’s shed with him and his brother, Frank, playing with them and their cousin Joel. I was jamming with them just playing some percussion not even singing at all. Once I was doing my thing, Mike Timpano and Alex Riddell really got me playing with other people. Right below Alex’s old apartment was the brewery Table 4 1, and that was the first place I pulled out my guitar and played for people. Then I walked down to Donnie Magoo’s and booked myself a gig there for tips only. It really just sort of took off from there. Rustic Barn and Black Bear open mics were huge too. Remember this was during Covid so places were not having shows by law, but you could have an open mic with lots of restrictions. Consequently, all of these musicians who were starving to play descended on these open mics all around. They were like the center of the music universe locally.
RRX: You have built a culture of music in that part of Cohoes, was that your intention at the outset?
MD: It wasn’t my intention at all, it was me saying I live in this town, have for a few years, the first places I should play and get known should be my hometown places. I wanted to make a name for myself here. Then as things went further along I was like, I can do these fun things more of as ways to showcase my own talents, but also open things up for the community. Having open mic night at Table 41, and my karaoke night at Donnie’s, was partly to give other people the opportunity to be the star. After I established myself initially, the open mic, karaoke night, and booking other acts at Mgoos, that was an intentional idea to bring more talented musicians down here and really show, you know, give this rusty mill town something to talk about. Now there’s live music at Spindles, Bye-I, JP Lounge, every night of the week you can see live music in Cohoes.
RRX: So the rising tide really does float all boats?
MD: In this case absolutely.
RRX: You mentioned KY, and you play with him in your acoustic duo project, Ky and I, how did that start?
MD: There’s always some debate between him and me about that, he thinks it was Black Bear or Arsenal City open mic, I think it was Mid-City, but in any case, it was one of those open mics. He had heard my song, and he came to me and we spoke about that Breaking Benjamin song, “Breath” and we went and practiced it and did it that night. It was all right, but he was the first one who heard something in my voice, and said “I want to work with that dude”
RRX: Having added these screamo-type vocals to your already difficult repertoire, how have you been able to sustain the performances with how you beat your throat up several times a week?
MD: Honestly, sheer willpower. Maybe started to drink some more water, hydrating.
RRX: You have an exciting new project, can you tell me a little bit about that?
MD: Yeah, Ginger Geezus. We’re a blues rock band, we play all that foundational stuff I mentioned earlier, ZZ Top, Skynyrd, Hendrix. I feel like Hendrix was the godfather of all modern heavy music, he changed the game. So Ginger Geezus, it’s James Jauron’s band, he got us together. He and Austin had been playing for a while and they reached out to me. We’re playing covers and original stuff written by James. He and Austin had been working on those songs and they really liked the personality I had been cultivating. Eventually, we brought in a drummer named Alex Riddell and it’s working out really well. He’s a great drummer.
RRX: OK rephrasing, do you feel like you’re ready to take up that mantle?