Matty T Wall on his ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’ Single and Tour

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Matty T Wall on his ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’ Single and Tour

WA blues guitar slinger Matty T Wall announces that he’ll be legging it over to the east coast this August in support of his new single ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’. We chat to Matty ahead of his tour.

Hey Matty, thanks for chatting to us! How are you and what have you been up to recently?

I’m really good thanks. Feeling good and really pumped for this upcoming tour. I have been doing a long of song writing over the last few months and will be playing a bunch of songs on tour that will definitely be making it onto the next album. I’m due to head into the studio in November with the boys to lay some tracks down. As much as I love playing live, I really enjoy creating stuff in the studio and creating songs that never existed before.

You have just announced that you’ll be legging it over to the east coast this August, in support of your new single ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’. What do you enjoy most about touring and what are you looking forward to?

Playing new venues every night to new audiences and seeing new places about sums it up. I feel more free to experiment and have fun on stage when I’m on tour – I don’t know what’s up with that. Maybe it’s the fact that on tour I don’t have to go to work in the morning! But yes, I really do love experimenting with the songs and arrangements on tour, and really tightening up with the band. When you play shows with a band every night of the week, it morphs into this brilliant organic music machine that just has an incredible impact. Then the performance just happens unconsciously with everybody working as one.

Hard rocking and big bopping, ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’ tells a tall tale of treachery over a walking bass line – one night, two protagonists, two gunshots and a deadly duel over the girl with the self-referential trademark and was inspired by the track ‘Be Cool’ by Albert Collins, another story that ends in a gunshot. Is there another back story to this?

Well, if you’re asking if this is based on real life events – no. I’ve never been shot at in a club because of a crazy tattooed girl! And there was no particular thing in my mind when I wrote it. It was actually one of those songwriting moments, when the story just came outta nowhere. I did go back and rewrite a few lines here and there to make things fit better, as you do, but the idea just flowed out. The Albert Collins song is very comedic and I don’t think I can pull off comedic – it’s just not my thing. And coming from a heavy metal background, well, comedy is just not there either. Maybe in time I can get some funny stories going, I’ve always enjoyed comedic lyric lines in Blues songs.

With a few dates coming up at multiple venues (Winter Blues Festival, Coburg, Blues Train etc), why did you decide on these particular stops?

The Blues Train has become a favourite of mine for touring, but this time around I also wanted to make sure I had the chance to play the local Blues clubs and Blues festivals in Victoria – really get out and see as many blues fans as I can, rather than limit it to one or two shows. I really love the community feel of blues clubs and regional festivals.

Have you ever had a ‘disaster’ or ‘memorable moment’ while on tour that you can share with us?

The Blues Train is ALWAYS a memorable moment, that’s just gotta be there because it is so much fun. As far as a disaster, well, here’s my worst gig ever story…. I had to play at a huge Blues festival but had to drive 600kms in one morning to get there for an afternoon spot. I also developed a serious flu and fever before the previous night’s show, so I was in no shape to perform at all, but I was determined to see it through. For some reason, Google Maps gave us a different estimated driving time the night before. So we left later than we should. We realized in the morning, so we gunned it up the highway as fast as we could. We were pulled over by the cops halfway to the Blues festival, and the bass player, who was driving, promptly lost his license. We ended up getting there 45 mins after our set started (big thanks to the band that helped fill in), and did our best to finish the set. I can tell you now, I hope that sequence of events never happens again! Those sorta things make you wiser as a touring musician. All I can say is – lesson learned!

Your debut album ‘Blue Skies’ has received critical acclaim over the past year. How has it been receiving such high praise for your work?

Some of it has been a bit surreal actually. Honestly some still haven’t hit me. When we were on tour last year, we managed to get the album to top the iTunes Blues Album Charts and the Radio Airplay charts for Australia. That I didn’t expect. Then another moment was when it was nominated in the Best Blues Album category at the Indie Awards in the USA. Now those awards are actually the GRAMMYS for independent artists. So that was completely unexpected. Then to have the album ranked by many industry heavyweights as one of the best Blues albums of 2016, alongside the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton – well, that blew my mind. I’m not in this business for accolades, but it sure does reassure you that you are on the right path. I am very particular about production quality and spent quite a bit of time making sure the music sounded as good as it could.

Speaking of Blue Skies, this enjoyable modern take on traditional blues was recorded between two continents (in New York City and Perth, Australia). What was the reason for this and how was it? Was this long process?

It was predominantly produced in Perth at Rada Studios, with Dan Carroll and Matt Gio engineering their studio. It was mastered in New York by Ryan Smith, who has mastered some of the best of best Rock and Blues albums (ACDC/Aerosmith/BonJovi/SRV). I purposely wanted some U.S. touches on the album, as I am convinced that the albums produced in the USA just have a certain sound about them. And I didn’t want anything less. As far as the performances on the album, it was mostly recorded in about 10 days, quite quickly. However, then I went to work with the creative mixing and overdubs which is where I think time really has to be invested. The overdubs of the horn section and female backing vocals were all from the USA also. It was such an easy process to send the tracks over to them and have them perform a few takes. That sorta thing would have been impossible 20 years ago.

The album features 10 tracks, most of which are originals, but there are a few covers sprinkled in. Do the covers has particular meaning for you, or what was the reason behind including covers on the album?

For me, playing Blues covers all comes back to Cream’s rendition of Crossroads. It literally sounds nothing like the original and is their own creation. So when I record covers, I will only do them if I have managed to bring the song to a point where I have really stamped my sound all over it. I think that playing covers as a Blues artist, is important, so the old can be reinterpreted into something new. Music must evolve, not forcefully, but naturally. A musician brings with them all the songs they’ve listened to and loved, into how they play and write music. It happens naturally. The cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile is closest to the original, but definitely has a different sound. I have heard by many a radio DJ in the USA that it is the best cover of that song that they have ever heard, which is another crazy ‘high praise’ thing to hear and take on board. Actually the inspiration for my guitar playing on that song has more to do with Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun’ than the original song itself. Now, that is a song I could not attempt to cover.

Tell us, how did you get into blues music? And what keeps you there?

Gary Moore’s ‘Still Got The Blues’ album is what got me to head in that direction. I first heard it when I was heavily into Metallica, Joe Satriani, ACDC etc, so I was blown away when I heard Gary’s searing heavy rock guitar tone ripping up some blues. The next defining moment would have to be watching an old VHS tape of Buddy Guy and Albert Collins in action in Chicago – that’s when I really started to fall in love with blues music. But all along, my dad’s record collection (he is a HUGE Eric Clapton fan) was subconsciously setting up my influences. To this day, when I think of melodic guitar lines, Clapton, Knopfler and David Gilmour all contribute to my influences. As far as what keeps me playing Blues music? It is just such an expressive form of music for singers and guitar players AND is free to cross musical boundaries. Local Blues clubs also play a huge role in this. Without the help of local Blues clubs, there would be nowhere for new artists to develop their voice and style before taking it to the road.

What CD is spinning in your car right now (or if you don’t have one, which one do you wish was)?

I ALWAYS listen to CDs! Still love the sound of them over MP3s. I actually have Metallica’s new album in there at the moment – I bet you didn’t see that coming! I have also been listening to some Gary Clark Jr, Steve Vai and Jeff Beck. But you know, it changes from month to month and I’m always out buying new CDs of old and new music.

Are you working on any new tracks at the moment? What can we expect from Matty T Wall in the future?

Six new tracks for the upcoming album are being road tested and road-hardened on this tour, so you will definitely be hearing them. A few influences in there from ACDC to Gary Clark Jr, to SRV and BB King. A real mixture of styles happening right now. I am hoping I can get album #2 out to you sometime in 2018, maybe I can make it bigger and better that ‘Blue Skies’ and I will definitely taking it to the road and seeing you all again.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat! Any last words?

Thanks for having me. And thanks to everyone out there who loves music and supports their local artists by going to shows and getting CDs from your faves. Music consumption on the internet is great for discovering new artists, but it literally does nothing to help artists get out and make more albums or get on the road. If your favourite artist has a website, always make a point to visit it and get your music direct. The big tech companies don’t need more money do they – seriously.
The last thing I want to say is R.I.P. to Graham Wood, a Western Australian jazz icon, promoter and music business visionary who has helped thousands of Perth artists develop their craft at WAAPA and the Ellington Jazz Club. He died July 19, 2017 after battling cancer for many years. He will be greatly missed. I hope he inspires more people to be bold, get out there and create in the face of adversity. This world needs more people like that and more beautiful music to go around.

When & Where: The Winter Blues Festival, Echuca – July 29, Pistol Pete’s Food & Blues, Geelong – August 4, The Melbourne Guitar Show, Caulfield Racecourse – August 5 & The Blues Train, Queenscliff – August 5.