Andrea: Let's start out with Jackson/Rubio Recordings. What exactly is the
Matt: I found some good bands… Like, Brainwash has gone on to Squint,
Soul Junk has gone on to Five Minute Walk. Havalina doesn't have a label
now…I think our distributor has a lot to do with the situation.
Basically, you could just say that I ran into problems with my
distributor, that caused us to run out of money eventually. I just told
the [Jackson/Rubio] bands they can do whatever they want, go wherever
they want. I'm not holding anybody to their contracts. So, in the
meantime, [Havalina Rail Company is] just looking for a new label, and if
we don't get a new label- we want to go to a general market label and if
we can't get a general market label I will probably distribute the record
[Note: Since this interview there's been a change at Jackson/Rubio.
Here's the official word from the JR web site: "Oh boy, big news at
Jackson/Rubio, I have decided to sell the company to Scooter for 200.00
dollars. I will not be doing any work at Jackson/Rubio any more. Scooter
will continue to sell the products. I will be building a Havalina web
site and putting all of my energy into playing in Havalina and taking
Andrea: What do you think you'd do differently, if you were starting out
Matt: I probably would not have signed a Christian distribution deal, for
mainstream Christian market. I would have just kept it smaller in the
Christian market in the first place. But then again, it's kind of hard
because at the time I couldn't have known that, and when "Russian
Lullabies" came out they did a good job distributing it, and as a result
of that, we were able to get bigger. We might not be where we're at
today, had I not done that. At the same time, I kind of wish that I
could have been on a better distributor or, had I known, I might have
just signed to a different label and had some one do the label work for
us. Ideally, if somebody else is paying for your art, that's always a
good thing. Unless they take all your money and you don't make any
royalties and that kind of stuff. [Laughs.]
Andrea: Anything else you're involved in right now other than Havalina?
Matt: I engineer records for people in the event that they want to hire
me, but I don't get hired all that often. I just did the Snax record, on
Screaming Giant Records. I do the Havalina records, I engineer those. I
do photography. I row gondolas. Like Venice, you know, gondolas? If
you go to GondolaGetawayInc.com, that's where I work.
Andrea: I saw some of your photography in the [Purple Door] art gallery
down here. Do you do that as a hobby?
Matt: I do it professionally. I guess it's a hobby also, but usually if
I do artwork, I try to sell it. I shoot for different record companies,
or whoever will hire me to shoot for them.
Andrea: Could you give me a brief history of Havalina?
Matt: We started in 1992, and we had a girl singer originally, and as we
wanted to get more serious as a band, the girl wasn't that serious about
it. Eventually, the girl ended up leaving. We tried a couple other
girls out and eventually I ended up doing the vocals. We started to grow
a little bit. We got signed to Tooth and Nail Records, which was in
1993. Then we put our first record out in '94. There's been a couple
line up changes, but four of the band members are pretty much original.
We have two new people who are only about a year old, Mercedes [guitar,
vocals, and cello], and Dave [organ and accordion]. I personally like it
the way it is now more than I ever have. I like the music we're doing
now. I feel like we're the most open and creative and there are less
boundaries on what we're doing than we have before.
Andrea: Do you prefer your albums or your live shows? Because it seems
like people can like your albums but they really get into it at your
shows. Do you have a preference?
Matt: Playing live is really, really cool. And that's what music's all
about, you know? There is certain stuff that's really cool to listen to
in your car or while you're going to sleep or something but isn't
necessarily exciting live. I think that if music can't be done live,
than in a certain sense it's not that interesting or not that cool. I
like the live aspect of it and at the same time, recording is also really
cool. We do a lot of our mellower stuff on our records. "Russian
Lullabies" has a lot of mellow songs on it. If we just did a bunch of
mellow songs live I don't think we'd get the same reaction. People
probably wouldn't like us as much. It would seem a little more
self-indulgent or something, you know, up there playing these long,
droning, depressing songs. [Laughs]. But they both have their pros and
cons. We love to play live, though. What you see on stage isn't a show. We do what we feel.
Andrea: What's your opinion of the current ["Christian"] music scene?
Well, in some ways I think it's really cool because a festival like today
[Purple Door], there's some pretty cool diversity. Pedro the Lion played
earlier, and I'm a big fan of their music. Somebody like us plays,
Denison Witmer plays, and Over The Rhine's playing. There's really some
very, very cool bands out there in the Christian market. If you think
about the diversity represented at a festival like this or Cornerstone,
it's almost kind of cooler than going to Ozzfest where it's just heavy
metal all day long or something like that. That, to me, tends to get a
little bit grating, you know? [Laughs] You can see a punk band, and a
little bit later you can watch an acoustic performer or something like
that. I really think that music is one area where Christians in the arts
are really doing something positive. There's a lot of talent there. In
that regard, I like the Christian market. On the other hand, there are
these trends that come along, and it's like, the big Nashville labels
sign a million bands that sound like whatever the popular trend is at the
time and everybody explodes overnight and it's hard to get a show
anywhere else 'cause there's so many of the trend bands around playing.
[Laughs] That is, sometimes, a little bit weird. But, you know, that
happens in any market. I live out on the West Coast in the Long Beach,
Orange County area and all those bands like Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris
live out there and that kind of style gets big so that's what everybody's
into for a while. But I think for the most part, something like Purple
Door, something like Cornerstone is pretty hip and I'm very much happy to
be a part of it.
Andrea: Who are your favorite artists?
Matt: Well, I like the Bob Marley "Kaya" album a lot; I think that's one
of the best albums in the world. I like almost all of Neil Young's
stuff… Simon and Garfunkel, I really, really like their stuff a lot.
Credence Clearwater Revival; I really, really, really like them. As far
as modern stuff, I like things like Weezer and The Rentals… Just anything
that's good, a lot of, like college rock garbage.
Andrea: How did you become a Christian?
Matt: I kind of grew up in a Christian family, and I didn't really think
much of it until after high school. I just got to a point where my
number was up, in a manner of speaking. God intervened in my life and
said, "That's enough of this," you know? I didn't have any major, "Fall
on your face, go forward," transformation or anything like that. I just
kind of realized one day that life was more than just me going around
being a jack-ass all the time, living for myself and doing what I wanted
to do all the time. And I believe God very much made me aware of himself
and kind of just knocked me over the head with the reality of a lot of
things I hadn't known and had just kind of suppressed in the back of my
mind for most of my life. From that point forward, I just kind of said,
"Well, I need to live differently now and I need to spend time knowing
God and meditating on the things of God, rather than my current path."
Andrea: Is there anybody in your life who's been particularly
Matt: Everybody that's close to me in my life, and every book I've read,
and the artists that I admire. Everything has an impact on my life, and
add pieces to my personality and my music and my art and everything else.
Everything from my parents to the band members who I spend my life with,
my wife. I think my wife has had a really profound influence on my life.
The music I listen to, the filmmakers, and the actors in the movies. I
really like Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. Those are both written by Wes
Anderson and Owen Wilson. Stuff like that definitely has an influence on
me creatively, and I kind of feel like I act like some of the characters.
Maybe not in Rushmore [laughs] but in Bottle Rocket. Me and my brother
are kind of like the guys in Bottle Rocket.
Andrea: What's Bottle Rocket about?
Matt: You haven't seen Bottle Rocket? Oh man, Bottle Rocket is like one
of the funniest movies in the world. It's just like these dorky guys who
decide they want to be criminals so they hold up a library and they try
to hold up a meat-packing plant or something like that. [Laughs] It's
just really silly but at the same time it's a lot of funny acting and the
whole freewheelin' kind of lifestyle, I guess. It reminds me of me and
my brother a lot, which, my brother, incidentally, is kind of a funny
case. The reason I mention him is if you go to the Jackson/Rubio web site,
I'm starting a little fashion section on there. In the last year my
brother's done the Gucci campaign, for all their clothing, and coming up,
he's in the new Valentino campaign, and the Dolce Gabbana campaign. So
he's my little brother that just played Nintendo before and now he's a
super model. [Laughs] So, it's kind of funny.
Andrea: So, the Jackson/Rubio web site's still going to be up, but
Matt: Well, like I said, I'll see what happens. If Havalina ends up
signing to another record label- If things change, I'll just have to see
what happens. Right now I'm going to keep it going because we put tour
schedules on there. There are things that change on there, and get
updated. Some people are interested in some of the bands. If we're able
to get another label, and as we're able to grow, I would still like to be
able to run a label in some regard, even if it's small, indie; just to be
able to put out cool bands and help people. Like, there's a band, Warp
Factor Nine, and it's bands like this, that you come across sometimes,
and they're just some of the coolest bands I've heard. I would just love
to be able to help out smaller bands. It's hard to say what the future
will hold. I would like to be able to foster, or be involved in finding,
and helping to establish cool bands. Because you just get bored of the
stuff that's all the same and I'm always excited to find stuff that's
unique and different.
Andrea: How do you feel about the mainstream, secular market?
Matt: I don't know if there's anybody mainstream… You know, I like Sting.
[Laughs]. I like some of the adult, alternative mainstream or whatever
is kind of cool sometimes. But it's cool in a kind of, "Oh that's not so
bad to listen to if it's on the radio." I liked The Police much more
than I like Sting, or something like that, you know. But as far as just,
music for young people in the popular world, it's pretty bad for the most
part. You know, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock, and there's just all this
crap that just all sounds the same and doesn't really have anything to
say except for, you're pissed off and you're having a bad day, or you're
white trash and you like beer, you know? It just doesn't strike me as
being that interesting. And it's creative; they're doing something, and
there are obviously people who like it. I just wonder, could some of the
smaller bands be a lot bigger if record labels would put a bunch of money
behind them? Take somebody like Pedro, take somebody like Over the
Rhine, and put Kid Rock money behind somebody like that. Could they get
huge? It's hard to say. Like Sixpence, they got pretty huge, and their
record label certainly put a lot of money into making that happen. I
don't know, I think the mainstream is always pretty much bull crap.
Because what does the mainstream do? The mainstream jumps on a trend
that started in the underground five years later, two years later, and
they beat it to death, and then it disappears. I mean, look at award
shows. Look at MTV awards, or Grammys, or any of those things. Look at
the people who have won. MC Hammer, the Spice Girls. All these people
have won these awards, and it's just like, who listens to any of that
stuff now? Whereas, it's like, go back and look at ten years ago, and
there's other bands that have been around for the last ten years and have
consistently been putting out good music, people are into them like they
were back then.
Andrea: Do you think in order for music to be successful, it has to have
a lot of money behind it?
Matt: No, I don't think that, but I think it can definitely help.
There's definitely been bands that have gotten huge without a lot of
money behind them. But it's hard. It really is hard. With my band, we
don't have any money. [Laughs] Like, we're in debt, you know? We sleep
in the car at night. We never pay for a hotel room. We've toured for
basically two months this summer. The only time we stay in hotel rooms
are when people pay for them and other than that, we sleep in the car.
And it's like we're totally satisfied sleeping in the car, we just do it,
even if we don't like it, and that's how we get by and that's how we make
money. I can definitely see how having money, being able to tour more,
being able to have promotion, it helps. It makes life easier.
Andrea: Why do you think the mainstream is like that?
Matt: I don't know. I'd like to think that people have better musical
taste than stuff like that, but I guess maybe I'm just being naïve and
hopeful. Maybe people… sat around waiting for something like Kid Rock
their whole lives and now it's come along and they love it and one year
they'll be playing that for their kids, and to the kids of the year 2020
or something, that'll be like the Jimi Hendrix or the Led Zeppelin or
whatever, of their parents. [Laughs] But I don't know. I have no idea
why. I think a lot of it is popular is because the mainstream press, and
the media, and everybody else have so much money that they put behind
this, and they just kind of say that "This is good, this is popular," and
therefore everybody says, "Oh, this is good, this is popular," and they
just kind of jump on the bandwagon. I don't know. It's weird. I don't
think about it that much. It's hard to answer these questions. I don't
want to sound derogatory at all, because there are good people out there,
but there is a lot of crap that, five years from now, nobody's going to