|Matt began his career playing the clubs in Chicago in the late 80s. He played drums with every kind of group in every kind of venue, from rock to jazz, blues to punk.|
He was a member of Filter in the mid 90's and toured the world fueled by the success of the single "Hey Man, Nice Shot".
Matt then joined Smashing Pumpkins midway through their "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" tour and played on the majority of the next record, 'Adore', as well as the soundtracks for 'Ransom' and 'Batman and Robin,' for which the band won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for the song "The End is the Beginning is the End". Tour highlights with the Pumpkins included headlining England's famed Glastonbury festival, Holland's Roskilde festival, performing at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit and sharing the stage with the Rolling Stones and Marilyn Manson. They also performed on both the MTV Music Awards and the Grammys. During his time with the Pumpkins, he also played on James Iha's solo debut 'Let it Come Down' and on ex-Cars frontman Ric Ocasek 's CD, 'Troublizing' and Marianne Faithfull's "Kissing Time", both produced by Billy Corgan.
During Matt's tenure with both Filter and the Pumpkins, he played simultaneously with a group of close friends in the Chicago-based band Cupcakes. In '97, the band signed a deal with Dreamworks, Matt left the Pumpkins, and spent the next several years touring and recording with Cupcakes. The band's major label debut was produced by Stephen Street ( Morrissey, Blur, Kaiser Chiefs ) and was recorded in London at The Townhouse.
In 2002, Matt got a call from the band Garbage to fill in for Butch Vig on their European festival tour in support of their album 'Beautiful Garbage'. In 2005, Garbage asked Matt to drum on the majority of their next record 'Bleed Like Me', with Butch Vig producing.
In January '06, Matt joined Morrissey's band and embarked on the most extensive tour of his career. The tour spanned the whole of 06, '07 and into' 08. Tour highlights included shows at Wembley Stadium, a sold out show at the Hollywood Bowl that was filmed for release as a live DVD, and a week long, sold-out residencies in L.A., San Francisco, New York and London. In the States, the band performed on David Letterman and the Jimmy Kimmel shows, and in the UK, the Jonathan Ross, Jules Holland and Russell Brand shows.
In between touring dates, Morrissey and the band went into the studio with Tony Visconti in London's Metropolis studios, Gustavo Santaolalla at Capitol Records and Jerry Finn at Conway Studios. The sessions with Jerry Finn became the beginning of the next Morrissey record, and sessions for that release continued at Conway Studios in L.A. in the fall of '07 and early '08. The band then went straight from the Finn sessions back on tour in Europe.
They plan to tour steadily in '08 into '09 in support of the upcoming new album.
FX - How did you first get interested in making music?
MW - My Father is a professional pianist, and his Father was a classical composer.
It was definitely in my blood from the beginning. My Parents tell me I saw Buddy Rich on TV when I was 2 or 3 and started banging on things. I never stopped.
FX - What's the piece of music that changed your life?
MW - That is a great question for which i have a very specific memory. I was in my early twenties and, as many are at that time, going through very dramatic and complex changes in my life. I was on an Amtrack train en route from Chicago to Minneapolis and I was writing in my journal about how stale and predictable popular music was, and how uninspired i felt. I finished the entry and pulled out a random cassette tape that I had stolen from my room mate. All that was written on it was 'Laughing Stock". I didn't even know if that was a band or what, but for some reason I saw it on the way out the door, grabbed it and threw it in my bag. So here i am on the train feeling all poetic and sorry for myself and I pop this pale blue tape into my walkman. The music on this tape was so subtle and expressive, unlike anything i had ever heard. It was 'songs' but completely torn apart and deconstructed - both quiet and commanding at the same time. I have always been drawn to sonic boldness, and this was musical boldness in the most unexpected way. The tape was of Talk Talk's 'Laughing Stock'.
FX - Do you have any particular moment that stands out when you look back over your career?
MW - I think joining the Pumpkins during their Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness Tour was the most surreal and impactful time of my career. Not only were they at the peak of their success but they were one of my all time favorite bands. Of course the opportunity was borne out of tragic circumstance, so the whole experience really was a double edged sword. I don't take those things lightly and i was keenly aware that my good fortune was mixed up with a very complex and delicate situation. None the less, the time I spent playing with the Pumpkins was truly magical, a once in a life time experience.
FX - How have you used BFD2 in recent projects? How do you find it compares to the 'real' thing?
MW - I do a lot of recording at home, and although I am a drummer, as a producer I often want very specific drum sounds. Each piece I work on requires something completely different from the drums, and not only would it take hours upon hours to achieve that acoustically I think it's simply impossible to ever acquire the sonic flexibility that BFD2 provides in a home recording environment.
FX - Do you use software when performing live and what do you use?
MW - At this point the only electronics I use live are the Yamaha DTX series pads. The DTX brain accepts a memory card so I can import my own samples, some of which I created using BFD2.
FX - How do you program- do you trigger with pads or V drums? Do you have any tips you could share with us?
MW - When I am at home I use an E kit, the Yamaha DTX. It is always faster to just play the parts down on the 'kit' then it is to data entry the midi notes one at a time. One trick I use, and this is probably only suitable for drummers, is I play the kit on 1 midi track but don't play the HH, and then track the HH separately on a 2nd midi track. I find that when I tweak the drum take afterwards it helps to have the HH data isolated from the rest of the kit, as it sometimes requires more finite tweaking.
FX - Tell us about your custom e-drum kit that you played on the tour for Billy Corgan's 'The Future Embrace' tour?
MW - Again, it was Yamaha's DTX kit, but it was actually welded into these crazy wrought iron stands that were custom built by a sculptress named Dessa Kirk. All the hardware on the stage ( the drum, keyboard and mic stands ) were built to look like huge metallic stems and leaves. My original vision for the kit was to build something more like what Willie Wilcox used in Utopia. But in the end we went for a more minimalist approach. It was fun to play standing up, and to be at the front of the stage.
FX - When did you realise you wanted to write songs and what's been your biggest influence as a songwriter?
MW - I have always wanted to write songs. My goal has always been to write the kind of music that inspired me to be a musician, which is a pretty eclectic mix.
So from my very first band, in the 5th or 6th grade, I was venturing into original material. I have been greatly influenced from everything from Peter Gabriel to the Pixies, from Brian Eno to Ministry, from Weather Report to Gary Numan, but the one artist who I turn to most without exception is David Bowie. I think i gravitate to artists who take the most chances, the ones who are not afraid to challenge the status quo.
FX - How has working with a diverse range of artists (from Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage to Morrissey) affected your playing/writing style?
MW - From a drumming perspective, each group I have worked with has required me to get into a different head space. I take very seriously the lineage of the artist as I step into their world. With the Pumpkins the drumming was such an integral part of the songs, it was anything but 2 and 4. It was very stylized and I went thru great pains to try and capture the essence that made the band click, while still looking for moments where I might be able to bring something new into the picture. As a song writer, there couldn't be a more valuable experience than working with Billy Corgan. I was already a fan when I joined the band, but it wasn't until i was at the epicenter that I realized how amazing his song writing really was. He is the master of writing incredibly sophisticated songs that sound completely natural, and it is only when you analyze them that you realize the intricacies inside of them - a dropped bar here, a chord substitution there, a 2nd verse that has a different cadence from the first and a bridge that comes before the 2nd chorus.
Garbage was great fun to drum for. Working under the steady hand of producer extrodinaire Butch Vig is no joke. You are recording takes and thinking, 'this man produced Nevermind!'. But he is very even, very focused and knows how to keep the session environment comfortable but extremely productive.
The drumming requirements for Garbage are polar opposite to the Pumpkins. They require a seamless integration into a production full of synths and loops, where the tempo is set in stone. But there is still a visceral element to the drumming that needs to be there in support of Shirley's vocals. Garbage's song writing style has taught me that song writing is one thing and good production is another. What makes Garbage work is that they are masters of both. But the song writing comes first, cause if the song isn't there. all the production in the world won't help. Shirley has a way with a lyric. She is very smart, but knows how to keep it all within the grasp of the fans without dumbing it down. That is much harder than it sounds.
Morrissey is yet again a totally different story. He doesn't really let anyone into his writing process. He just shows up and the first time you hear him sing his parts it sounds like the record. No lyric sheets. No hesitation. It's incredible.
Very often the band will rehearse new songs instrumentally before we hear his parts. But it's not until I hear what his vocals are that I can really settle into a part. As a drummer, everything I do has to be primarily in support of the lead vocal. Drumming-wise he is simply not interested in any of the technical minutia, he is only concerned with whether or not what I'm doing is supporting the essence of the songs. So it forces me to think not in terms of clever fills and sticking patterns etc, but more in the way of emotional content.
FX - What are your plans for your own band, Most Dangerous Race in 2009 and have you any plans to reform Cupcakes?
MW - At first theMDR was something of a solo endeavor, a side project, but after collaborating with singer JT McCluskey for a number of years and adding a full time guitar and bass player into the fold,it has become a real band. We are playing as many shows as we can in the holes of my touring schedule, and writing and recording new material at a feverish pace.
FX - Where do you see yourself in ten years time, musically?
MW - I write a lot for television, but mostly commercials. I would like very much to move into scoring for film and perhaps even theatre. I would also shift my drumming focus from pop/rock to jazz and experimental music. I think there comes a point where bashing away like a cave man seems absurd, and one craves a more sophisticated, nuanced outlet. At the same time, in regard to my song writing aspirations, I see progressively getting simpler - more fundemental. If in 10 years time I can manage to write one perfect pop song i will feel quite satisfied.
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