interview May 22, 1997
Matt – just for the record, I'm tired of answering this question. I'd much rather people ask about music, but if people want to talk about the frivolous stuff, here we go. the name Spahn Ranch. in 1992 I made the first ep. it was a four song ep & I didn't have a name for the band. I went to go see Meat Beat Manifesto with a friend of mine Rachel. we were standing in the lobby & Rachel saw these people come in & says "oh, those are those freaks who use to live on Spahn Ranch." so in the back of my head I thought "oh, that would be a cool name for a band." in 1992 I had no idea that two years later people were going to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Manson like it was the Apollo 13 landing & study every aspect of it like it was the most incredible thing that happened since the declaration of independence. it was just a name. I figured the few people who knew what it was would get a snicker out of it & that was it. that's all the gossip.
QRD – what's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you as a band?
Matt – a show on our second tour in salt lake city. the sound was so fucking horrendous. it fedback throughout the entire show & I mean nasty feedback & the guy working at the soundboard did nothing about it. we cut the set short, we finished it & then afterwards we were like "what the fuck was that all about?" & he was like "I thought you guys wanted to sound like that."
QRD – who's actually in the band now?
Matt – everybody who was on stage (Matt Green, Harry Lewis, Athan Maroulis) plus another drummer David Parkinson who couldn't make this tour.
QRD – who is Judson then?
Matt – Judson's never been in the band, but he's part of the band & has been for a very very long time. he doesn't play on the records, but he's our engineer. I like to think of Judson as my partner, I do everything with Judson. I do all my re-mixes with Judson. I do every Spahn Ranch song with Judson. I work out of his studio. Judson & I work together real well, we know each other real well. he can have his back to me & I could go "I need a little more of that" & he knows what I'm talking about & change the setting.
QRD – what are your favorite shoes?
Matt – these are (black leather semi-clogg-ish shoes). I love these. I wear them on stage every show. I just bought some shoes in new york. they're italian shoes, good for l.a. in the summer, it never rains. purple suede wingtips. I'm into clothes, I buy a lot of clothes.
QRD – anyone you'd like to talk crap about that you've met?
Matt – no, it's not worth it to bad mouth other bands. not to sound like Mr. PC pat everyone on the back. believe me I have my opinions about people. but if someone's a hump they're a hump & they'll get what's coming to them & there's no sense in me wasting my time talking shit.
QRD – what's the worst food to eat on tour?
Matt – McDonald's or any fast food. it's just crap. we mostly eat at diners. mostly on the road we eat at these things called Cracker Barrel. there's a chain of them & it's the kind of food your mom would make you.
QRD – like Waffle House?
Matt – it's a lot better than Waffle house, that place is nasty. it's a step up, it's a big step up. I don't even like Denny's, I think it's kind of gross, but I'd eat it in a heartbeat before McDonald's.
QRD – what do you believe your maximum sales potential is after you get good distribution?
Matt – what's the Eagles' greatest hits album at now? isn't that the biggest seller of all time? it just passed Thriller. whatever that is, we can match it.
QRD – what do you want people to know about you &/or your music?
Matt – I'm definitely not a republican. I'm an atheist. that's about all about me. about the music, we spend a really long time making it & it's very important. it's the most important thing to me that the music be right obviously, it's what I do.
QRD – don't you do other stuff? do you not have another job?
Matt – I was working for a post-production house the last nine months working on tv shows. working on the audio for tv shows, not really music. it's like transferring 6,000 takes of Heather Lockcheeze on Melrose Place fucking up her lines. that's what I was doing.
QRD – who would you like to tour supporting or have supporting you?
Matt – there's tons of bands. it would be great to take a smaller band with us, but we already are a smaller band. people need to take us with them if anything. it's all well & good & everything, but we've been at this for so long & our name is just starting to spread a bit. someone on our level should really go out opening for someone else. we're fine on this tour headlining playing places this size for crowds like this, but I don't think we're in a position to take someone with us as much as it would be great to. we need to go out with someone else & there are tons of them. a whole gamut, U2 would be nice. they have a nice stage.
QRD – what do you think about the way the internet is changing the underground?
Matt – I'll tell you what's really good about it is people who are literally stuck at home because they're disabled or they live in the middle of no where, it's great because it puts them in touch with everything. I think that's brilliant about it. the thing I don't like about the internet & never have is that it's a haven for losers with no life to sit & type in "Trent Reznor's a poser." Trent Reznor could care less what you think & to waste your energy talking so much shit. I read so much crap on the internet & it makes me laugh. I don't read through it too much, but when I do I start laughing because people ramble on about non-sense. that's the part that needs to go. the internet needs an editor.
QRD – why did you stop distorting the vocals on your records?
Matt – because Athan has a fucking great voice & it's the reason I've always wanted him in this band. I remember going to see him in 1984 with Fahrenheit 451& just thinking what a great voice. I always thought he had a great voice & when we did Collateral Damage he'd never ever used distortion before, he'd never used it in Executive Slacks & he never used it in Fahrenheit, & it was like a new toy for him. the whole time the record was being done I really hated the fact that there was distortion on the vocals, because I think it made him lazy on the record. I said to Judson, from now on there's no more fucking distortion & there hasn't been. if he couldn't sing, believe me I'd be packing tons of distortion on there. there are a lot of people who need it & could even use a little more.
QRD – how do you feel about the current state of music & how derivative things are getting?
Matt – there's always great music out there, you just have to go & get it. certain scenes become real derivative, but that goes on in all of them. I've always been a person ever since I was a kid that loves new music, I love new things, I love getting into new bands, that excites me. it's great getting one of my old favorites released on cd for the first time, but nothing excites me more than getting a new album by a new band. right before we went on tour I saw this band called Death in Vegas & they were amazing & I just bought there cd a week ago in new york in a record store. I'm excited about that.
QRD – how do you feel about second generation fans versus first generation fans?
Matt – anybody who likes us is someone I can relate to in one way or another because they can understand whatever perverted ideas I have for music. there's no need to differentiate them.
QRD – there's nothing punk about the current punk scene, what is punk today?
Matt – you're talking to someone who's first band was a punk band in the early eighties. not to say "I was there," but I was there in new york in '81 & '82 on the hardcore scene. I use to go see Bad Brains, Reagan Youth, Agnostic Front, all those bands all the time. I use to go to A7 & all those places. so that was a big part of my life when I was 14 & 15 years old that was my whole world & then in a couple years I got into other things. I didn't forget my roots, & I still loved it. I had a great time & I met a lot of great people, people I'm still friends with. personally, if a fifteen year old kid gets into punk rock & it's his whole world, then great, more power to him, whatever he's into that's cool. but there's a lot of attitude that goes with it that really should be shuffled off to the side. these people have to realize that they're not discovering anything new. they're not treading new water. as long as you understand where you're at it's cool, but some of the attitude has really got to go because it makes me & any of the people I know from then laugh because it's silly.
QRD – do you think there is anything now that's breaking new ground?
Matt – tons of stuff. I for one love drum & bass. I love break beat stuff. I'm a huge fan of dub music & dub influenced stuff like Death in Vegas. there's always going to be good music, it's just a matter of seeking it out.
QRD – what's your ladder-ish symbol mean?
Matt – that was an icon for the first ep & it got stuck on the second ep as well. it doesn't mean anything. it was an I-beam with a circle around it. the guy who designed it & did the artwork for that was an architect. the reason we asked him to do the artwork was because he was an architect & we thought he'd have an interesting approach to the music. I'm a massive architecture fan, look at the name of the new record. Athan & I love architecture. I have tons of architecture books. that's what I love about touring is I go to these cities with history to them & I can see these beautiful buildings & that to me is creative & new thinking & brilliant. but this guy Chris is an architect & we needed some artwork for our first ep & we asked him to do it.
QRD – which one of your records is your favorite?
Matt – the newest, Architecture.
2QRD – do you think that's because you're not distanced from it yet?
Matt – that's an interesting point. yes & no. I spent nine months making that record. we recorded seventeen songs, stuck twelve on the album. I threw away so many songs, you have no idea how many were written for this record. twenty-five or something, maybe more & I just love the twelve songs we stuck on it. there are ones we left off that now I look back & say "you know I like this song." we stuck some on comps & some will resurface somewhere or maybe I'll re-record some. it's my favorite record, I love it, I'm close to it. you might have a point about the distancing, but any musician's going to tell you that. the newest records going to be your favorite because it's your baby, you just had it.
QRD – what's your favorite love song?
Matt – that's a good question. every girlfriend has a different love song, so that would kind of be picking a favorite girlfriend. I have a couple, but one I can think of off the top of my head is... fuck, Gregory Issac's got so many. "Storybook Children" is a beautiful song. no, I know it's a Gregory Issacs song called "Do You Ever," beautiful song. I love that. I love "Ain't Got Nothing to Give You" by the Equals. "I Just Want to Testify" by the Parliaments, it was one of there first seven inches ever when they were an r&b vocal group in the sixties. in fact don't be too surprised if that turns up on the next Spahn Ranch album, I love that song. I'm sure there's more.
QRD – what's your favorite Swans song?
Matt – probably "Time is Money." I love that record.
QRD – is that the one you'd cover for a tribute?
Matt – yeah, but I don't think I could do justice to a Swans song. there are just certain bands that have done it right as it is. I hate when I hear tribute records & somebody does a song the exact same way as the original, because what's the point? you've already got the original & it's great. that's why I like to think the covers that we've done, we've done different. we did Pink Floyd & AC/DC & I did a version of Gary Newman's "Cars" without vocals as a dance track. it's on Re-Inventing the '80's, a compilation from Cleopatra. I just talked to Brian at Cleopatra the other day & there's going to be a Gary Newman re-mix record on Cleopatra. he just got a hold of the master tapes of vocals & all sorts of stuff, that should be pretty neat. for me I like it when covers are a bit different. there's a cover on the new album, "Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys," one of my favorite songs of all time, it's by the Equals. I love the Equals, there one of my favorite bands. I love '60's pop music, I'm a big fan of it. I like stuff like the Leftbank & all of that. I like that song & have been talking about doing it for three years, but it's different from the original.
QRD – what's your favorite Iggy Pop song?
Matt – I've been into Iggy Pop since I
was 15 years old & I first got Raw Power I bought it used for $1.99
at a record store by my house because I thought it had a cool looking cover
& I'd heard of him. it blew my mind & to this day "Search
& Destroy" sends chills down my spine. it's just the most primal
ripping ? if you've got to listen to a rock song that is the rock song
to listen to because it's just fucking flawless & that whole record
smokes. I love Raw Power. I love the way James Williamson plays
guitar & that's a lot coming from a guy in a keyboard band.