'Revolutionary Thinking Lives On and Matt Holt Has Something to Say'
Matt Holt, lead singer of Metal band Nothingface, turns 26 years old at the end of this month. Schooled by 8 years of touring and record industry turmoil, his deeply held views on religion, the record industry and big business are altogether venomous, yet amazingly pertinent.
Washington D.C. based band Nothingface didnít have things easy in the first few years. In the mid-nineties, singer Matt Holt quit his unfocused band Ingredient 17 and joined forces with Nothingface original members Tom Maxwell (guitar), Bill Gaal (bass) and then drummer, Chris Houck. They then recorded their first two albums, Pacifier and An Audio Guide of Everyday Atrocities, on the Dcide label and followed up with a tour along side Ministry in í99.
In 2000, Nothingface signed a deal with TVT, withe hteir label debut being Violence, but inner-band turmoil reared it's ugly head again. Drummer Houck was replaced by Tommy Sickles, Holtís former Ingredient 17 band-mate. And then, after all of the touring, the band felt slighted by the lax media marketing of Violence, and fired their management. Many a personal travesty ensued, but the guys pulled through to record their latest album, Skeletons just the same.
Prior to their Detroit show at the Shelter, I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt on the tour bus and get to know more about himself, his convictions and the band. And yes, he was just as intense as I had been told, although remained a most gracious host. I first wondered - based on all the rumors and hearsay - if he could briefly explain where the bands name had originated? "From what I understand, it was just off a list of names that somebody had. There wasnít any deep meaning behind it or any kind of epiphany type thing. Weíre not like Ďstand around a fire and beat a drumí hippie kind of people. Plus, I think itís kind of gay when bands are like, Ďthe meaning of the name of our band is a metaphor for the intricacies of Satan and how he likes to piss on things.í I mean, who knows? Itís just a band name!Ē
GMP - Thinking that Skeletons could well be your last album together, at what point during recording did you realize that wasnít going to be the case after all? "The only reason that it might have been our last album together was strictly because of our record label, and record labels in general. I mean, they didnít like the demos we gave them. So, we werenít going to put out a record just to put it out, and have the label do a real half-assed job. Weíve never wanted to break up and hopefully we wonít. But, you know, every road is only so long.Ē
GMP - Your website quotes that you ďlove working with producer Bill Kennedy.Ē What does he bring out in you guys during recording that you like so much? "He understood basically how we wanted the record to sound Ė the different tones in the record. In the past, weíve either been recorded and mixed like a melodic rock band, or recorded and mixed like a metal band. So, no one was able to capture the right dynamic. On our last record, Violence, a lot of the edge was taken off the guitar, so it didnít really come across as heavy as we wanted it to at times. But, Kennedy understood exactly and just allowed the soft thing, and understood how the record should sound. He fits in quite well.Ē
GMP - Can you explain more about why Skeletons was a way of expelling your own 'personal demons?' "I created more problems during the writing of this record than anything else. I wasnít expelling anything. If anything, it was absolute hell to write the record. Just because of things going on in our personal lives. So, writing the record wasnít a very pleasant experience at all. Finishing it was a relief, but if anything, I trapped them into a little plastic box and showed them to everybody else!Ē
GMP - Do you still believe that the industry treats you nothing short of cattle with dollar signs branded on your asses?! "Yes. Every single one of us, from the guy in the smallest band to the guy in the biggest band. Thatís all we are. The definition of a musician to a record label is Ďa person that creates a product for us to sell.í In any other branch of business, we would be considered engineers and taken care of very well. But, to a record label, musicians are a dime a dozen. And, thereís no kind of medical benefits, no dental benefits, but everyone who works for the label gets them. Itís funny, because the record label wouldnít exist without musicians to write the music for them to sell. So, we are all completely disposable. So, the music business is not a musician friendly place. I mean, there is just so much deceit and crap thatís always there and never goes away. And, the record labels donít care. Everyone is very image conscious and itís going to go away. Not until the music industry is unionized and musicians actually get together and start taking care of one another! And, thatís hard to do.Ē
GMP - You didnít go on stage for almost a year and a half. What were you up to during that time and what was the reason for the hiatus? "Writing. We donít play shit while we are writing. Once we get into that mode, youíre not going to pull us away from it. Itís too big of a distraction for us to be in the middle of writing, then go off and play a show somewhere, then come back. We own our own studio, so we record every single thing that we do ..... it looks like a giant red neck festival out there!," he suddenly breaks off as he looks out of the tour bus window at all of the people walking around Greek Town. "Whatís going on?Ē he turns to ask me. Telling him that it's the 'Downtown Hoe-Down' (country music festival) this weekend, with a scared look he mutters, ďOh. A hoe down!"
GMP - So, what are your expectations of Ozzfest this summer? ďJust having a good time. Iím not really going to try to look too much into it and think about numbers and stuff like that or anything. I just want to go out and play some shows, have a good time and hopefully make some new fans."
GMP - I read in an article that your goal for the band had been Ďto build up a hardcore following and to learn what it takes to be a band on the road.í Do you think that you have achieved this goal and what have you learned? "Yeah, I mean weíve been touring for 8 years and the goal of the band has always been to establish a strong fan base. For me personally, the goal is to stretch the borders of our genre of music and hopefully influence some younger fans and leave a legacy, something for us to be remembered for.Ē
GMP - Based on the song 'Here Come the Butchers', what are your views of the Priesthood? And, please, donít hold back! "Well, I have no problem with Christianity,
or Catholicism as a religion, but itís the way that itís taught and the way that people have turned it into big business. Everyone from the Christian televangelist that you see on T.V. to the Pope. These are people that have made careers and lived off of the word of God, and thatís just a little messed up.
The fact that the Pope has Godís ear more than any other human being on earth is a little strange when we are all supposed to be equal in Godís eyes. Humans that have run Christianity and Catholicism are responsible for every contradiction in the religion. They are also responsible for more murder and war than any reason in the history of man. The Bible is like the number one cause of violence worldwide."
GMP - It can also be hard for kids that arenít raised with religion as well "I mean everyone out there should have faith and believe that there is something out there greater than humanity, but donít look to a book made by humans for guidance. Thereís an old saying that goes, ĎThe devilís greatest trick was convincing the world that he didnít exist.í I completely donít believe in that. An all knowing, all loving God wouldnít need to govern his entire creation with such an iron fist."
GMP -Okay, after that conversation, Iím not sure if I want to ask you the rest of my questions!! "Why?Ē
GMP - They are fun, sily questions to lighten the mood!! ďThatís cool,Ē he replies, a small smile creeping across his face.
GMP - So, whoís the biggest ladies man in the band on this tour? "Tommy, our drummer. Definitely. I mean, itís a matter of choice. Iíve been doing this so long and indulged in the beginning of my career, but Iím not really like that anymore. Tommyís young and having a good time.Ē
GMP - Who was the last person from the band to slap somebody and why?! "Last time I can remember, it was actually me and Tom our guitar player. That was years ago in North Carolina when this drunk guy kept fucking with Tomís wife. Tom ended up getting into it with him. I saw Tom was in a fight, so I was in a fight. That was it really. We get out all of our violent tendencies on stage.Ē
GMP - Reveal an annoying habit about another band member of Nothingface "I canít do that,Ē He gently smiles.
GMP - Who in the band would look the best dressed as a woman and why?! "Probably Tommy I would imagine, because heís so thin. He has long hair too!Ē
GMP - Finally, how would you describe your music and what, if any, messages are you trying to get across? "Our music is kind of schizophrenic. We kind of have a multiple personality disorder when it comes to our music. We canít decide if we are a metal band, or a melodic rock band, or a punk band and whatever else. Lyrically, our music goes from very fictitious things to the church to government!Ē
Interviewed by G.M. Pasfield for Exclusive Magazine
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To read our Nothingface concert review just click here and be whisked away !
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