First off Matt it’s truly an honor to speak with you so thank you for taking the time to do this. How have you been?
Matt – I’ve been very well, thank you.
Right now King Diamond and company are preparing themselves for their only US show of 2017 at “Psycho Las Vegas”. Are you looking forward to headlining one day of the festival? What happened as well that King Diamond made this the only US show of the year as well?
Matt – To prepare for the show, we rehearsed at an interesting place in Las Vegas, it was part of a complex that made up the set of a TV custom car show called Count’s 77. There was a showroom with a bunch of custom cars and choppers. The kit I they had for me had no screw tops for the cymbals. At one point my left crash fell off and sliced the top off Andy’s cable. Other than having to change the cable, rehearsal was smooth as Wynn Resort marble. I was very much looking forward to headlining the show. It was exciting and fun as usual, but after we found out the front of house board was doing funny things and compromising the sound. News like this can really harsh your mellow. This is our only US show this year, it’s one of 4 shows we are doing. King wanted a sparse year, so he could work on a new DVD and a new album, in addition to being a dad to Byron, who is as cute as the dickens and a very happy baby.
The last full US tour for King was doing the entire “Abigail” album live, how did that go and how did that come to be? Can fans in future expect any other albums played in full like “Abagail 2”, “The Puppet Master” or even “Give Me Your Soul…Please”?
Matt – I think the idea came from King. I know he wants to give the fans what they want. Abigail is not only one of King’s most popular albums, but it holds up all these years later as one of the greatest metal albums of all time. So, playing this album is like red meat for hungry lions. The response has been unbelievable, so it makes sense to accept offers to play this show in places who haven’t seen it yet. For many reasons. I can’t say what fans should expect!
As everyone knows there is a new album on the horizon for King Diamond, can you let any info about that come out or how the making of it has been?
Matt – The album will be finished in the perfect time for it.
Being in King Diamond for 15+ years now did you ever expect for it to come this far? How has being in the band changed your life?
Matt – It will be 17 years in January. I never tried to predict anything like that, but I’m so glad that it has come this far, and I hope it keeps going for a long time! It’s changed my life in many ways. There are always pros and cons, but the pros far outnumber the cons.
It has been known that King personally reached out to you to come drum for him, what is the entire backstory on that on.
Matt – Before I went to college, I played on some metal recordings around Dallas. While I was in college, I worked sometimes at Nomad studios in Dallas as a session drummer. I knew that King recorded there (with Mercyful Fate and with King Diamond), so I told the owner of Nomad (Gary Long) to please tell King to hire me if he ever needed a drummer. Before that, I heard at Nomad that King had heard something I played on and was impressed with the drumming (I think it was with Michael Harris and Surgeon), that’s what made me say that to Gary in the first place. Anyway, King called me and told me he was looking for a drummer 2 weeks after I graduated college and was thinking about what to do. Bam!
Having played gigs of all sizes for King what have been some of the most memorable and why?
Matt – Some of the most memorable include: St. Petersburg, 2001, my first show ever with King, it was an adventure just to get there (16 hour ferry, bus ride across the Finnish/Russian border), but the show was so insane. The crowd was louder than the P.A. Athens, Greece on that same tour, because I had a bad flu with a fever, but I forgot about it totally for the set. Orlando, FL, 2005, the House of Blues, because it is located technically inside Disneyworld. We were on tour with Nile, Behemoth and Black Dahlia Murder. The juxtaposition of family Disney visitors and people there for the show was amazing enough to make it stand out. The thing is, I remember pretty much every single show I’ve ever placed and the events around them. Awesome memories!
I have to ask, after doing the Mayhem Festival with Slayer and company and hearing various stories online and knowing that it ended up being the final year for the festival, how was your experience on it?
Matt – My experience is all positive from Mayhem. I was celebrating so many things like how far King had come, opening for Slayer, getting to hang with Vinny Paul and Paul Bostaph, my amazing family at home, so many great things. My wife and daughter came on the bus with us for a week, Albuquerque through Denver. Kerry King played with us I think 12 times. I was 16 when Reign in Blood came out. It really affected my life. It made me practice harder. Now I was playing with Kerry King night after night, then having beers and watching them from wherever I wanted. Stage, front row, middle, back. I was like a contest winner for 40 days. For King, I think Mayhem was positive in many ways, even if the venues weren’t full, we played for tons of people who never saw King Diamond before. Pulling off full production as support was pretty amazing from a crew standpoint and that is very important also.
How do you feel the state of current metal is? Not only on record with the bands out there today but with touring as well.
Matt – That’s a complicated question, the state of metal is very strong in some ways, maybe weaker in others? I can only give my perspective. Album sales are weak, and trying to get to a profitable position as a new band is as hard as ever. For bands that rise up far enough and for established bands, the state of touring seems better than ever. It’s amazing how many metal festivals there are now, and they all fill up and are successful. They also employ a lot of people. So in that way, metal is bigger than ever and thriving.
It’s also a fact that you have been in Shaolin Death Squad, what’s going on with that band?
Matt – I’ve been in Shaolin longer than King, we just played a show with Free Salamander Exhibit that was amazing. We put out an EP last year called “As You Become Us”. We have about 2 1/2 albums worth of new material written.
What would you give any future drummers out there that want to take that big step forward not only with playing but with being in a band of any level.
Matt – Lessons. Email me.
Any last words you’d like to say or news to throw out there?
Matt – Nope
Just wanted to thank you again for taking the time to talk and I wish you the best.
Matt – Thanks for the interview, all the best.