Alkaline Trio - Matt Skiba
Interview and photos by: Conrad Tolosa and Julia Zulia

Matt and Julia Zulia
Julia and I (Conrad) were able to do an interview with Matt Skiba, the lead singer, from The Alkaline Trio while he was in New York in between tours. We talked to him for a bit about his family, beliefs and future.

Julia: So, did you grow up in the Chicago area?

Matt: Yeah, I was born in Chicago. When I was about 3, my folks moved out to the suburbs when my sisters were born. I was raised like an hour from the city, and then when I was 18 I moved into Chicago. I've lived there ever since. I just recently moved out to Berkley, Ca.

Julia: You said you had sisters, how many do you have, and do you have any brothers?

Matt: No, I have two sisters, two twin sisters.

Julia: Are you protective of them?

Matt: As protective as I can be, I mean, we're kind of spread out. My one sister is down in Buenos Aires, and my other sister lives out here in New York, but if anyone ***** with them, I'd kill them, so yeah, I guess I'm protective of them.

Conrad: How did you treat each other growing up?

Matt: When we were younger, we didn't get along as good as now, we were mean kids to each other. But we've always been pretty tight. We've always stuck up for each other.

Conrad: What were your parents like when you were growing up?

Matt: They were always supportive of me, I'm extremely thankful for them. They're still together. Our family has pretty much always gotten along; not always understood each other completely I don't think, but we're tight. We're all friends, and really supportive of each other.
My folks are rad. I'm thankful for them. And I don't think that's average; I'm lucky. I have good folks for sure. Yeah, I'm psyched because most people I know didn't have the same experience, so it makes me feel really lucky and thankful for them. They're definitely a big part of who I am.

Matt and Julia Zulia
Conrad: So what kind of beliefs did they instill in you?

Matt: Well, I didn't have any sort of religious background. My mom is kind of anti-organized religion, so I had that in me pretty early on. She never forced it on me; I respect her. She's really smart, she always kind of had a problem with the corruption of religion, and I pretty much back that. Not to **** on anyone else's beliefs, as she would say. It's just a lot of times, there's more to it then meets the eye. There's definitely a lot of evil involved that some people don't recognize all the time.
My parents are both really liberal people, they've always taught me to be open minded and compassionate, and loving to people. They definitely instilled everything I believe in.

Julia: So, what kind of kid were you growing up?

Matt: I didn't have the easiest time growing up for some reason. I don't even know why anymore, but I definitely was getting in trouble a lot, and I never really did that well in school. My parents were worried about me a lot I think; but I don't think I was really abnormal. I think most kids are like that, just angry and undirected, compulsive, weird. I was always kind of a ****** until about 6 or 7 years ago—not that I can't still be a *******, but I was kind of an *** for a long time.

Conrad: So why did you change?

Matt: I just got tired of being angry, sad…boring all the time. It's a waste of time. So I think I was just growing up.

Julia: Was high school a good or bad experience for you?

Matt: Well, I wasn't getting beat up all the time. In junior high I used to get my *** kicked all the time. In high school I didn't have that hard of time, but I hated it, I felt like I was in jail.

Conrad: What crowd did you fall in?

Matt: I was kind of friends with everybody. I was friends with the burned out kids and the criminals, and dudes on the football team. I didn't really care as long as people were nice. Luckily there were a lot of cool people I went to school with. It was fun, but it was just like you go somewhere and you can't leave, and I just don't like that feeling. It's like you're trapped, sort of, so I had a hard time doing well in school.

Julia: When did you start getting into music, playing guitar?

Matt Skiba
Matt: I didn't start playing guitar until we started Alkaline Trio. I had always played the drums; I was playing drums in some other bands up until Alkaline Trio. I started playing drums when I was 10 - that's when I really started getting into rock and roll stuff.
When I was 10 or 11, I had two cousins that met at a Devo show. They were totally new wave/punk rockers. I was too young, so my parents wouldn't let me go with other kids into the city, but they let my cousins take me. My first show was Public Image Ltd. They took me to see Iggy Pop, Ice T, Social Distortion... Probably around 11 is when I decided I was going to be in a rock band, or I wanted to be.

Julia: So is that what you wanted to do growing up?

Matt: From that point on, yeah. I remember when I was a real little kid, I wanted to be a garbage man, and my mom still teases me about that. When I was little, I just always thought garbage men were bad-***. Whatever, I don't want to be a garbage man anymore. I changed my mind.

Julia: What did you do after high school?

Matt: I went to art school for a year and I dropped out. I actually did all right in art school, cause I could start doing my own thing, and I had freedom. I was going for design. I went for a year, then I dropped out and we started the band. I started bike messengering. I did that for about 3 and a half years in Chicago, and then people started coming to our shows and buying our records, and I got to quit.

Conrad: When did you quit your job and do the band full time?

Matt: About 2 ˝, 3 years ago. It's been good.

Julia: Are you guys pretty much on the road all the time?

Matt: Probably a little more than half the year. Last year we were out for, about 200 shows.

Julia: So what do you do in your off time?

Matt: Hang out in New York.... I just moved to the East Bay area of Northern California, so I've been enjoying myself out there. It's obviously really nice out there and sunny all the time. In the winter it rains occasionally.
I've been doing a lot of skateboarding, riding my bike, hanging out, drinking coffee…

Conrad: So are all you guys out there now?

Matt: No, just me.

Julia: Do you have a lot of friends out there? Why did you move?

Matt: Not a lot, I have a couple of really close friends, one of my best friends I grew up skateboarding with, going to shows with, moved out there a few years ago, so he was a big reason for me moving out there. Then I've met a few folks over the last year or so that I thought were really cool people, and went out and spent a couple days with them, and visited somebody that had a room available for like half what I was paying in Chicago, so I took it. I've wanted to move out there for a while; it's a lot cheaper, and sunnier. I do a lot of skateboarding, writing songs, hanging out.

Conrad: So, do you have a girlfriend?

Matt: No, I don't.

Conrad: So, what are the qualities that you would look for in a girlfriend?

Matt: Someone that doesn't need anybody, I don't want someone that needs me. I want someone that's my friend before anything. Someone that lets me be and do whatever I want, and she can do or be whatever she wants; someone that's understanding.
I'm not really too psyched on the concept of having a girlfriend because every time I've tried it it's kind of suffocating. And it usually always ends up two people yelling at each other. It's not worth it. I like being alone. I mean, I'm not alone. I have friends. I think I'm anything but a loner. I just don't have a girlfriend. I'm only 25 years old; I'm a little kid. I have the rest of my life to settle down. But, I don't know, maybe if I found the right person, maybe. But I've just never met her.
Sex ***** up everything too. It's just too much of a headache sometimes. I'm stoked just doing band stuff, and hanging out with my friends, and meeting new people—just being able to do whatever I want. It's a cool feeling.

Conrad: So, when's the last time you were in a relationship?

Matt: The last long relationship was a few years ago. I was with a girl for 3 years. We were together for about half of that time; that was about 3 or 4 years ago. That was long enough, and recent enough to remind me it's good to be single. I just hate fighting with people. I hate drama. I hate tension, and it's really hard to avoid when you're that close to someone on that level. I don't really have time for it. Too many other things are important for me, I'm alone, but I'm not lonely. So, if it isn't broke, why fix it?

Conrad: Do you ever hang out with the other guys in the band? I mean, are you guys' just bandmates, or friends?

Matt: We're friends before we're bandmates. We all hang out. Our drummer Mike, he's married and has a three-year-old son, so he spends a lot of time with his family when we're not on the road. Danny's girlfriend lives down in New Orleans and his mom works for United Airlines - so Dan flies for free everywhere. So he's always down there hanging out with his girl.
When we're touring we're all in the same place; we all have a really good time with each other. We all hang out. When we're all at home, we'll practice then all go out bowling after.

Julia: Do you have Rock and Bowl out there?

Matt: We have Rock and Bowl in Chicago, there's one out in Berkley too but I haven't gone yet.

Conrad: What do you bowl?

Matt: My average was around 170

Julia: [Jokingly] Was that with or without the bumpers?

Matt: Without, I think with the bumpers it's probably less. But now I suck, Mike and Dan bowl all the time, I'm probably now around 130. The highest was 210.

Julia: So, where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Matt: I don't know, that's funny I was talking with a friend of mine last night about that, and I don't know. I can't picture myself in 10 years. It's weird. Sometimes I feel like it makes me appreciate life more—it seems like life is something that can be taken away from you at like any second, and I think thinking about life like that has actually made it better for me.
If I was alive in 10 years, I'd be really thankful, not that I would do anything to impair me living for 10 more years or whatever, I hope I live forever.

Conrad: So do you believe in heaven or hell, or God?

Matt: I would like to think that I don't. But it's funny, I just don't know, and I'm content with that. I think that heaven and hell and that whole thing and the Bible is just a little too hokey for me. It just doesn't seem realistic to me at all. All that stuff was written by people, translated over all these languages that don't even translate - and I don't know. I think there are a lot of loose ends to it for me to fool-heartedly believe in it. But sometimes you wonder, you know? I definitely have doubts, and things all the time happen that proves it wrong. You never know. I definitely believe there's something out there. I don't think this is all just chance.

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