ERIC BLACKWOOD & ANTHONY J. FOTI ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1
SETH MAJKA Interview 2
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
NICK DOUKAS ..... (Full Circle, Half Angel, student of John Petrucci & Al Pitrelli)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest, Ratt)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz)
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
DORO ..... (Warlock)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, A Place Called Rage)
ANTHONY J. FOTI & ERIC BLACKWOOD ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, Wizards Of Winter)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2

SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

DAVE CRIGGER ..... (Foghat, World XXI, Michael Fath)
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)


RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA ..... (Heavy Metal Mayhem Podcast, Stillborn)

October 20, 2014


August 2014 (skype)

Bangtown Timebomb is a punk influenced metal band from Bangor, Maine that had been around for over a year when they welcomed 2014 with a shot in the arm of new musical energy via guitarist & composer Matt Chabe, who brought with him a non-metal background. Following Matt's entrance they released a self-titled debut EP on bandcamp & started steadily gigging in the area. Bangtown Timebomb also includes vocalist/founder Sarah Nickerson, guitarist James Nickerson, drummer Jeff Prymowicz & bassist Brandon Ryder.

I had the opportunity to talk with Matt about his musical background & Bangtown Timebomb after stumbling across the band's EP. A couple weeks later I did a joint interview with bandmates Sarah & James Nickerson, also posted here. These 2 interviews made for a interesting complimentary overview of Bangtown Timebomb's music, musical philosophy & history. I felt like these ghost-writers that work with musicians writing their autobiographies by collecting interviews. Matt also talked about his day job, which I thought was not just interesting, but that his professional insights might be of value to his fellow musicians. Matt owns Chapter Two Marketing & Public Relations helping an array of different types of businesses & professionals in Maine. This came out of a marketing background that includes 7 years in the Navy as a public relations specialist, his last duty being the official voice of the historic U.S.S. Constitution moored permanently in the Boston Harbor. While at the time of this interview Matt was putting the finishing touches on a new music business, Your Gig Bag, that is a subscription based company bringing musical goods to your door every month via 3 subscription tiers, though in this interview the plan was still 2 subscription levels.

* * * *

AJ: Matt, let's open by talking about BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB. You guys just got started.

MATT: Yeah, we did. The band started about a year & a half ago, from what I understand. I had been out of the music scene for probably about 2 years. I'd been recently married, doing some travel & starting my own business. I hadn't really been thinking about tackling another project when these guys at BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB, who I barely knew outside of the music world, contacted me & asked if I'd be willing to try out for their band. They were looking for a lead guitarist. To a guitarist that's music to one's ears. Looking for a lead guitarist, they're a dime a dozen. So, when someone approaches you & asks you to throw leads over their music that's interesting, it's an opportunity. I went & jammed with them & it worked out really well. I loved their sound. I either knew everyone in the band or I knew of them. I gelled really well with them. Right from the beginning it's been very synergistic. The interesting thing about the band for me is that a lot of the guys come from a metal background & I don't mean BLACK SABBATH heavy.

AJ: Heavy, heavy.

MATT: I'm talking about really heavy stuff.

AJ: I can hear it in a couple youtube videos you have up in that thick crunchy thrashier end of the metal sound.

MATT: But, its very melodic as well & as a musician I tend towards melodic more than aggression. So, I think there's a lot of synergy at play in the band between the metal aspect & the melodic indie rock aspect.

AJ: To back up for a second. You said they called you.

MATT: They did.

AJ: Tell me, there's a story there. How'd they know about the guy who wasn't playing music for 2 years?

MATT: I have been active in the music scene here. They're good friends with another guy whose in metal bands & also produces bands in the area who used to run sound for a band I was in. I kept up my relationship with him. He's done work for me in the past. He recorded our EP. When they told him they were looking for a guitarist, he said "Have you tried Matt Chabe?" So they contacted me out of the blue.

AJ: That's nice!

MATT: Connections, right!

AJ: So, you weren't actively performing then, just kinda laying low with your normal life then, right?

MATT: Over the course of the past 4 or 5 years I had been in a number of bands & then, for whatever reason, I joined my first cover band with a bunch of friends with the intention of doing 90's covers. We were a 90's music tribute band called SMELLS LIKE THE '90'S. Very quickly it became clear we had tapped into a market that was being under-served & venues were calling us. It became a situation where venues were hearing about us & calling us & we didn't even have to fish for gigs anymore. But after 3 years we got tired of constantly gigging. That project dissolved & I got into another indie rock band that gigged around the area. After that one dissolved I turned my focus to starting my own business, getting married & doing a lot of travel. As I said, it had probably been about a year & a half since I'd been actively playing in bands.

AJ: I was actually at a reggae show last night out in the park here in Portland & my girlfriend says to me, "I don't think anyone's listening to the band." I said, "No, this is where they're eating dinner. They just come with their kids. It's just background noise." The band was really good & I think in a club it would have been amazing, but in this park we were kinda bored after an hour. I said to her, "They're here because whoever put this together knows that 75% of the audience is going to enjoy the music, whether they know who Bob Marley is or not."

MATT: Right.

AJ: That's a whole different audience then, let's say, BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB, which is your metal fans, hard rock fans, maybe punk fans. That's the thing with cover bands. That's maybe why clubs called you, because you have a sound maybe a lot of people are going to like?

MATT: Right. I think from a venue owner point of view we had an established rate of bringing in a crowd.

AJ: Beer drinkers.

MATT: More than that, most of the venue owners were sort of in that age bracket where they would hear about us & go "Oh, '90's!"

AJ: "That's me."

MATT: Exactly. "We're tired of hearing 50 or 60 year old dudes playing oldies, 70's music or even 80's music." So, here's a band of relatively younger guys playing NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM & songs by bands you've forgotten about, one hit wonders from the 90's. So, we were a little bit unique. I think the audience got involved, but you bring up a really interesting point about this concept, what's known in the cover band industry as wallpaper bands. So, venues will hire bands that are aurally pleasing, but they're not aggressive & they don't interrupt anyone's enjoyment of the other good time, which is socializing, drinking with friends, eating. They're wallpaper. Something to provide some sort of background entertainment.

AJ: It's safe music.

MATT: Right, exactly. That's a rough gig for a musician, or at least a musician that wants to be noticed. Ostensibly, any musician wants people to notice them.

AJ: Also, in terms of a technical aspect, people are going to be sitting there thinking it may not sound right, not the right guitar line, which they're going to do no matter what, but putting the focus on the band not the atmosphere makes it potentially worse. I used to know a member of a KISS tribute band & he was always complaining that the guy couldn't learn Ace Frehley or Bruce Kulick's licks.

MATT: Tribute bands are a different beast all together.

AJ: It's the next step, though.

MATT: Oh yeah. It's almost like when people see tribute bands they expect them to be the actual band. They want it to be seamless. I saw a LED ZEPPELIN tribute band over a year ago & they were fantastic, but the lead singer had black hair. The crowd was complaining because Robert Plant was blond. Whatever. This isn't LED ZEPPELIN.

AJ: I think maybe the other aspect of it is that for 3 years you're doing covers. I don't know if you're someone who wants to compose, but there's no room for that.

MATT: Totally. I am a songwriter. That's really my passion when it comes to playing in bands is bringing song ideas to life & there's no reward at all in a cover band. Yeah, there's that aspect as well.

AJ: It can wear on you if you want to stretch those wings.

MATT: Absolutely & quite frankly if I never play CANDLEBOX again I'll be happy. There are so many songs I could recite in my sleep, even if I never play them again. I grew up on this music & love it.

AJ: Me, too. Do you compose the stuff for BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB or are you guys still too young ... because you only have 4 songs on your bandcamp EP. That's not a lot of recorded music, but where are you in the growth process, I guess, since you showed up?

MATT: When I came on board they had about an hour of material already. At that point it was just a matter of adding textures & melodies where I saw fit & not putting my footprint on the songs that existed too much. Now that I've been in the band a little bit longer I'm starting to bring more ideas to the table & I think it's great. So, moving forward, I think they'll be more of an integration of the full band even more so.

AJ: How long did you say they had been around before your arrival?

MATT: About a year.

AJ: So, is that one bandcamp EP is that the only bit of music out there from BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB? There wasn't anything before you that now has vanished?

MATT: No, that's it.

AJ: So, what's next? You came in & now you're starting to create music with them, instead of just adding. What's the plan? The bigger picture, you could say.

MATT: We just started gigging. We just played our first gig not too long ago & got a fantastic reception. We got asked to be put on a bill at a club here in Bangor & we played that & the reception was great. So, it seems like with each show that we play buzz grows & we keep being asked to be put on bills. The fact remains that we have families. We're probably not going to be embarking on any world tours. So, I guess that puts us in a fortune position to be able to cherry pick the gig offers that we get. But, we're looking at possibly doing a video. We just had a photographer do our band photos. Honestly, Aaron, it's just that sort of band growth process. There's a process when you get a band, then you start gigging out more & then you give yourself that sheen, get the pictures, put together a video & go from there. I think the answer to your question, what's the big picture, is to continually develop music & work on our live show, which is a huge aspect.

AJ: The thought that just came to me is I remember I was in one band & I had this friend who would talk how we would open for MEGADETH. But, I'm thinking how that's cool, yet we barely rehearsed in a month. It was like how were we going to get from here to there. There was so much we were losing in the equation. When I got tired of this mentality of success with no work I finally thought it would be great just to gig in a country band that was gigging just in town, because I just wanted to perform. I just wanted to play music & it wasn't about the big picture, fame & fortune, because it probably wasn't going to be happening. There's just fun in playing, irregardless of the gig, because a gig is a gig.

MATT: Right. I think you nailed it. I'm not the type of musician who just woodsheds in my living room & that's where I get my satisfaction. I get my satisfaction by bringing ideas to life & exposing other people to them. Yes, I enjoy practicing by myself in my house, but I really enjoy performing & I like being in bands. But, you're right. The spectre of fame isn't necessarily hovering over me or a lot of people. So, what's in it for me is really the performance & the creation of something bigger.

AJ: Tell me about your background as a guitarist. What's your training? What do you like? & when I ask what do you like I take into consideration that at this point in time it might not be '90's music anymore.

MATT: I wouldn't count on it, actually. I started playing 20 years ago. I was in high school. I started playing with another buddy. Our style of music was very similiar. I equate it to growing up with a twin. I share very similiar playing traits with this guy. My dad gave me lessons. My dad was a musician in the area. He played in country bands & some rock cover bands. Growing up I always thought I didn't want to play that instrument. Then one day I decided I did want to play that instrument & I've loved it every since. So, I took lessons from my dad, whose self-taught. & I reached a point where I wanted to get further & I took jazz lessons for a about 2 years from a guy here in Bangor. From there I just continued on my own.

AJ: I was about to ask if it was all metal or hard rock, but you answered my question.

MATT: It's interesting, I'm not a metal guy. I'm a hard rock guy. I'm a classic rock guy. Honestly, when I was taking formal lessons we focused on jazz, we focused on theory, scales & modes, sweep picking. Then I abandoned it. I kept some of the skills & recently in the last couple years I've sort of reawakened that. I've been exploring the fretboard a little bit more & getting more into the theory aspect of it. For a good many years I was into the shoegaze scene.


MATT: Exactly. Bands like MY BLOODY VALENTINE, SLOW DIVE, SWERVE. I was really more into making these wall of sound textures that reverberate through your skull, as opposed to playing solos or anything like that. I just wanted to use textures. I felt like I was getting stale as a musician just focusing on that, so I still retained some of those skills, but nowadays I'm a lot more into ... well, I guess recently I've been listening to a lot more MOTLEY CRUE, SCORPIONS & JUDAS PRIEST than I have been MY BLOODY VALENTINE.

AJ: There's actually a connection there between some jazz - some - & shoegazing, in that there's a hypnotic aspect to the music. I find you get into this feeling mode both in jazz & shoegazing. You're getting into another place. Even doing something melodic, I hear a bit of the wall of sound in BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB.

MATT: Really?

AJ: It's thick. It's heavy. But, I was listening to it the other day & in one song I realized there was some notes in a refrain that had passed me by & I had to go back & listen to that texture. It wasn't just chordal chugging along, but overall there's this feeling pulling you in.

MATT: One of the interesting things playing with these guys is I have found the same thing. I never have been directly influenced by anyone in the metal scene before. The things that James Nickerson, our guitar player, brings to the song structures is really interesting.

AJ: Like what?

MATT: His playing style is very chunky. He plays with a lot more distortion than I do. When he plays melodies, when he plays embellishments, first of all, they're very intricate. So, it's the same sort of thing you would find in wall of sound shoegazing music, but just played in a different way. So, I've been spending some time trying to deconstruct this sort of modern metal music. Really the difference in what I feel like they're doing & someone else is the way they employ rhythm. So, someone, let's say, the CATHERINE WHEEL might have intricate chord structure & intricate riffing, might have that over a straight ahead rhythm or straight ahead beat ... metal will just overwhelm you with non-stop pummelling drums & bass. I think that's really the difference is just the rhythm section. So, I really enjoy playing with James, because metal is not ugly. The melodies, actually, they can be quite beautiful. & it's all in how you apply the music. It's all in how you apply the notes.

AJ: I'm a big MEGADETH fan. My ex was actually a Juilliard trained classical pianist. She saw it as just some ugly horrible band, so we sat down with the sheet music one day & had MEGADETH playing & she was impressed & the music was not what she thought it was.

MATT: I find it's important in the life of any musician or any music lover when you get to the point when you can open up your mind to any sort of music & recognize the musicianship that went into it. I find a lot of people like one style of music & they've closed their mind off to another style of music & they just think its ugly or bad, but if you stop & step back & look at it ... say, for instance, I'm not a country music fan, but I recognize that these guys are doing something really kinda interesting. They're taking very very simple chord structures & making it interesting. They're employing really great melodies. It's a craft. The way that those singers are using their voices.

AJ: A lot of embellishments. I particularly think bluegrass music.

MATT: Incredible.

AJ: As we're talking music in general here, can you tell me, is there any music scene there in the Bangor Maine area? & let me define this question better. For example, when you think like NYC you think TWISTED SISTER or punk or VELVET UNDERGROUND. Or, you & I grew up when L.A. meant hair metal. Certain areas have styles. Is there something in Bangor? Do you feel Maine has any scene?

MATT: I do feel like Maine has a growing scene. It's only been growing in the last 10 years, but there's definetly a growing indie scene. Definetly a growing folk rock scene.

AJ: That kinda goes back to older bands like SCHOONER FARE & the maritime identity of Maine.

MATT: I agree. In terms of Bangor it's been tough. There have obviously been bands in the Bangor area, but there have never really been a lot of venues for bands to play in. Quite frankly, the population up here just isn't what it is in southern Maine. I was thinking about this earlier this morning about the sort of concept of population versus the number the musicians. I mean, it's a matter of population size & the sample you take. So, if you take 10 people & for every 10 people there's 2 musicians & only one of them wants to gig out. If you have a small population then there's not going to be a lot of musicians, right? But, as Bangor grows population-wise & culturally there are more musicians & musicians that want to make music with other people & gig out & there are more opportunities for them to play. So, in terms of a scene, I don't know if there's necessarily a type of music scene in Bangor yet. I know there are certain types of bands. I feel like there's also a sort of slower, more indie rock folk scene up here. There are a ton of open mic nights in which people can do their thing in front of people. There's also a burgeoning scene of rock bands. I don't really think they've hit critical mass yet. I've only started learning about them myself. &, of course, there are metal bands.

AJ: If you only have a small or select scene does that effect, let's say BANGTOWN TIMEBOMB that does one type of music. You're only going to have so many people that are going to want to listen to your style of music. You're not going to bring the country fans to your metal night.
This kinda goes back to the cover band discussion & reaching a wide audience.

MATT: Right, the market's much more wide open with a cover band because there are a lot more applications. There are a lot more bars & clubs looking for a band to just sort of plug into the corner & provide background music, then there are venues & clubs looking for a band to be the primary form of entertainment. Going back to that concept of population & taking a sample from it. The same could be true of patrons of clubs. If you have x number of music lovers, how many of those people are going to actually enjoy live original music? & then, live original music that doesn't fit a specific mold? So, there's a metal scene in this area. There's a metal scene in Maine, a big one. It's big enough so promoters promote shows by metal bands & they sell tickets. It's not just paying at the door. Still, there are metal shows that are very sparcely attended. So, I think that that's a struggle that musicians in Maine face, is that there aren't a lot of people right now willing to go to shows regularly & I think part of that has to do with the population. I think another part of that has to do with the fact that our population is pretty sparce, it's spread out. It's not like playing show in Boston or NY or any major market & the population is a lot more centered & maybe you can take a cab there & make a night of it. In Maine you have to drive an hour or an hour & a half to get to a good venue, right?

AJ: & then you're going to have to ask your friend to drive & hour & a half, too.

MATT: Right, exactly.

AJ: The funny thing is, when I was living in Manhattan it could be really tough to get people to shows because you'd hear "I already went to 3 shows this week. I'm out of money. All my friends are in bands & then I went & saw this really big band ..." So, while we had the location & population in our favor it wasn't any easier. & the number of people randomly walking into clubs to hear music was small. Clubs had followings & there was only x number of people that would go to a club. So, you liked a band but not the club & maybe wouldn't go. Except when someone famous came but that crowd was there for the night & then vanished. having lived in different big cities before returning to Portland I find in the end you might have different populations or variables, but it's really the same struggle for a band to get people to see your show.

MATT: One thing I will say about the musicians in Maine - musicians in Maine are super supportive of each other. We'll put each other on bills. We'll hook each other up with shows. There's not a lot of in-fighting in the community, which I think is really great. I think it's also worth mentioning, these struggles exist & you're right they probably exist anywhere, that some shows just aren't that well populated because a lot of people just aren't willing to go out all the time to see bands. In terms of Maine I think it's getting a lot better. 10 years ago I don't think you would have heard about artists like SPOZE out of Portland getting national attention. RUSTIC OVERTONES was sort of an anomaly. What's this band from Portland Maine doing singing to a major label? Now, I think the level of musicianship has grown to such a point that people are beginning to recognize that yes, there are good bands from Maine. So, I think critical mass is growing, but we still have a ways to go before we're packing clubs. Actually, here in Bangor we don't have any dedicated live music clubs. We have clubs that will double as night clubs, you know DJ's come in, other times ... they're sort of diversifying, capturing as much market as they can, right. It's not like you have down in Boston. Or, in Portland you have Geno's Rock Club.

AJ: But, that's one of the few. The Big Easy has closed.

MATT: There's the State Theater.

AJ: But, most of us aren't going to be performing there.

MATT: That's a good point.

AJ: There is One Longfellow Square & the Asylum & Port City, but there you have to balance it out, as one night you'll have a local band & the next night you'll have Sebastian Bach from SKID ROW or TESLA. So, one is competing for a venue with the bigger bands, as they don't have many places to play when they come into town.

MATT: That's true.

AJ: I want to turn now to your day job. It wasn't until after we set this interview up that I realized you had something cool going on. You have a background that goes back to the Navy. You worked as the Public Relations Officer for the U.S.S. Constitution. This led to a career doing marketing & public relations, including Chapter Two Marketing, which is your own company. Then you're on the Board at KahBang Arts & you're also getting into some music stuff, outside of playing. I'd like to know more about this potpourri.

MATT: I'll just give you a brief history. I started my career in the Navy. I joined in 2000 as a public relations professional. My formal Navy training was in public speaking & press release writing, photography & videography. I ran a radio station for a little while. But, the bulk of my Navy career was doing public relations & press. I spent my final 3 years in Boston on the U.S.S. Constitution & I was the spokesman & press guy there. My job was to publicize the ship & be the spokesman for any interviews. I've been on the Discovery channel, the History channel. I've been in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald.

AJ: Whether you were doing it for the Navy or whoever, I know a lot of people who would consider that a really cool gig to have. I'm a history buff, so for me it's totally cool.

MATT: It definitely goes on my resume.

AJ: I just read they were going to be taking the ship out of harbor to do some repairs or rebuilding on it.

MATT: I'm not sure. They do it periodically every couple of years. The ship's like 250 years old.

AJ: It's amazing it's still floating.

MATT: Their maintenance crew if fantastic. They take the ship out to sea 4 or 5 times a year.

AJ: I know, that's how it stays a commissioned ship as in order to be commissioned it can't be always moored.

MATT: That's right.

AJ: The guys from the band SCHOONER FARE tell the joke that they take it out & flip it around so the sun hits the other side for 3 months.

MATT: Totally, that's true. They call it weathering.

AJ: I've also heard they used to train the guys to do the rigging on the Bounty, from the Marlon Brando film.

MATT: Yes, on the Bounty.

AJ: Before the Bounty sunk. Actually, the Bounty was rebuilt in the former Sample Boatyard in Boothbay Harbor that through marriage I'm connected to the Sample family. Everyone knows local storyteller Tim Sample. So, I have a photo of me touching the Bounty while moored.

MATT: That is super cool. I've been on the Bounty & met the Captain. Met the same Captain that ultimately sunk the ship. They also do rigging training on the Friendship. It's either moored in Maine or it comes to Maine frequently. In any regard, I left the Navy & continued doing PR work & marketing in this area. I worked for a company, until I realized I wanted to do it better myself. & I figured I could with my background. So, almost 2 years ago at this point I started my own business. I started with one small client & now I have a pretty good roster of clients that I do marketing, advertising & public relations for.

AJ: What type of businesses? Anyone who will come to you or anything specialized?

MATT: I started out specializing in small businesses & start-ups. My goal was to help businesses grow from the ground up. But, what's happening over time is I seem to be attracting more businesses in the entertainment & hospitality industry. I have a restaurant under my wing. I have a brewery under my wing. So, if that's where the winds blowing, I'll take it. You never know when you're in business. Sometimes you have to abandon your original idea. If I'm going to be in the hospitality & entertainment business, I find that appropriate & it's highly enjoyable.

AJ: I always found in marketing there was so many issues, from not enough people showing up at a gig, or money being owed, or songwriter proper credits, or working with a different company, all the way to working with assistants who are alcoholic or incompetent as they are unqualified over-protective fans, let alone personality conflicts. After awhile I found the stress too much, the meeting of famous people not so interesting & the money not there. What do you find is your biggest challenge in marketing? & maybe wasn't the challenge you faced when starting in the Navy?

MATT: I think the challenge has been the challenge since day one. That is tapping into the idea that a public wants to take part in. You can have the best value proposition in the world. You can be giving away gold for free. But, if you don't present it in a way that resonates & connects with people, they're not going to take that free gold. The challenge has always been to grab on to that ephemeral thing that floats around out there that causes people to become interested. The other stuff is fairly simple if you're educated & know what you're doing, the back end strategy. Doing the research on market segments & how best to target them & where they are in the channels & how to reach them. But, man, there's no secret formula for people's tastes & I think that's the biggest challenge. Just in terms of pure mechanics, one of the biggest challenges is all the channels that are available now, the internet & mobile devices. Incredible opportunities. Incredibly effective channels, but in terms of putting together a marketing mix you can easily spin your wheels & waste tons of money trying to reach people, only to find out that you could be operating through this mobile channel when the people you want to talk to are next door in a completely different channel & there's no bleed-over. You have to be very careful & I think that's the biggest challenge.

AJ: Since opening your own company what have you learned? How has that experience changed the way you work?

MATT: It's all about human relationships. That's what I've learned more than anything. It's all about word of mouth. It's all about human relationships. Again, I can have the best advertising campaign in the world, but if I'm not making some sort of connection nothing is going to happen. It happens when I'm out looking for clients. If I find a business I want to work with I can send them some material, I can send them an e-mail, but the best thing to do is stop by & visit or make a phone call. Everything's about human connection. It's not just limited to the marketing world, it's anywhere. You can apply it to being in a band. If you don't make that connection with your audience you're not going to go anywhere. One thing that marketing has shown me that I could easily apply to being a musician is that the stage show is 60 to 70 % of game. You can be an excellent musician but be boring or be a mediocre musician but have an incredible stage show, right? Most people are going to go for the show. There's a very small subset of people who are going to go & just sit there & are there just for the musicianship alone. People are looking to be impacted. Again, it's all about making a connection.

AJ: Let's tie this into something you're starting that music related marketing?

MATT: Are you familiar with BIRCH BOX & TRUNK CLUB?

AJ: Not really.

MATT: Let's equate it to a cheese of the month club or a wine of the month club. These are models that have been around decades. Recently, because of the success of social media, this growing interconnectivity people are experiencing because of it, it has a business model comprising a subscription based business model. For example, BIRCH BOX will send you curated customized boxes each month of beauty supplies. So, I would go online, I would make an account, I would tell them what my preferences are & they would send me the stuff they would think I would like. So, for X amount of dollars each month I get this box each month, I don't have to think about it, it's fun to open. Wow, I get all this stuff.

AJ: You keep what you want & return what you don't want.

MATT: You don't even return it.

AJ: So, it's just free samples.

MATT: Right. In the wake of that there are other businesses cropping up that follow more or less the same business model. But, I was very surprised to find that nothing has been done like that in the music world. So, if I go online & look for a delay pad or a compressor for our guitar, the music supply world is sort of mired in the old way of selling, where you look for something on line, you go through their online catalog, purchase it & that's it. You have to not only spend the money for shipping & handling, but you have to spend the time researching, trying stuff out, don't like it then return it. So, what if there was a way to get a box curated each month with music equipment at a cost effective price? So, for instance, what I'm developing where each month you would get things that you normally consume over the course of a month, say a set of strings & some picks, right, & then other items that compliment your playing style. You'd get a tuner, a slide, maybe a guitar strap & each month these things would change. There would always be strings & picks, because every musician needs that stuff. So, when a musician gets this thing in their mailbox each month they open it up & its like a gift, like a present, & at a low price point. So, basically, you subscribe & you forget it. So, that's the model I'm developing right now. & there will be 2 tiers. One is the basic or entry level model, where you get the stuff I just described. The next model up will be a little more expensive & it's geared towards those who consider themselves professionals, like touring or session musicians. I'll throw in a boutique guitar pedal. This is all about bringing new & undiscovered cutting edge products to people who haven't heard about them. So, I'm not going to throw in a pedal by Boss or Ibanez. I'm going to throw in a pedal from some guy that churns out 100 pedals a year out of his home. So, people are getting things that they need to create that unique sound that every musician has in their head. It's a rare musician that just picks up an instrument & is cool with whatever is coming out of the amp, right? You want to mess with it & you want to get this sound that's unique from other people & create this thing that's in your mind. That's really what I'm aiming to do.

AJ: So, where are you in this plan?

MATT: We're going to be start marketing in about a month. We're putting the finishing touches on the website.

AJ: Is this through your company Chapter Two?

MATT: No, it's a different entity entirely. It's called Your Gig Bag. Everything's in place, just waiting to place the finishing touches.

AJ: When you said subscription the first thing I thought of was Columbia House or BMG music. I discovered a lot of music over the years being a member of those things.

MATT: So did I. But, those models are a little bit different. They're very very similiar. The difference is between those music clubs & the subscription based models now, the subscription based models are becoming more curated. Where previously you had to select the music you wanted & they sent it to you.

AJ: They gave you the catalog of everything they had.

MATT: Now you don't even have to do that. You're trusting us essentially to curate what we think is cool. If we do a good job then we're a trusted partner. If not, then cancel your subscription. But, I'm trusting people are going to trust our taste. I have a guy on board [Joshua Strange], a total gear junky & he's a musician, & he's going to help me curate the boxes. He's actually moving down to Pennsylvania to be part of the music scene in Philadelphia. He's not just some schmo. He's my schmo.

AJ: Cool. That sounds like a very interesting & cutting edge project. Like you're braving a new path.

MATT: I think so. Nobody else is doing it, which surprises me, in a way.

AJ: Music & book clubs come to mind. But, this is with something that you will use, not just entertainment. This sounds like a unique path.

MATT: Thanks.

AJ: It would be interesting to talk with you in a year to find out where it went, what didn't work out & what surprised you.

MATT: I'd be down for that. I'd be interested in talking to myself in a year.

AJ: Wouldn't we all?

MATT: Right?

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