Stoneghost guitarist Andrew Matthews has a reminiscent natter about his metallic salad days...
Hoy hoy! Welcome to Sentinel Daily! And thanks for taking part in Metal Origins – your input is much appreciated! What are your earliest memories of heavy metal – was it love at first sight/hearing? “Neither of my parents were into metal and none of the kids I was at school with seemed to have much interest in it, but heavy metal was having something of a pop culture moment when I was growing up… so my very first exposure to it was probably hearing little snippets of heavy guitars in movies like Wayne’s World and Bill and Ted et cetera. My main impression at the time was that “This music sounds like FUN”, Later on, somebody played me some Metallica and that was what really started it for me. The first time listening to extreme metal was a little different – I found it utterly terrifying/baffling at first, so I had to really make a point of persevering with it. Very glad I did!”
What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash money? Or Record Tokens, if such a thing still existed when you were a young pup… “I think the very first one I put down my own money for was Ride the Lightning. The shop I got it from was charging something extortionate like £17.99 for it at the time – I have no regrets though!”
Blimey. Eighteen quid! Still, money well spent in the grand scheme of things… Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask “what was I thinking?” “Our tastes have definitely come a long way since then, but I don’t think any of us really feel embarrassed about it – I still have a copy of an album by The Smurfs I got when I was a little kid!”
Excellent. Who were the first band you saw live – Feel free to name check heretofore unknown local bands if that was your first interaction with live metal… “I’d been to a few shows – my Dad took me to see bands like Wishbone Ash – but I think my first experience of live metal was probably in high school when I saw some older kids doing a rendition of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Suffice to say that The Smurfs didn’t really cut it after that”.
How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved – was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “Rather annoyingly, the UK mainstream media had moved on from metal by the time I properly got into it. There was a period in the mid-90’s when Sepultura, Corrosion of Conformity and even Napalm Death were appearing on national TV over here! There were always metal magazines you could buy, though”.
Do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “Because social media is now the default paradigm for bands who want to get their music out there, there seems to be a terrific amount of pressure for them to always be posting something. It seems like we’ve reached a point where many artists now have to consistently produce a steady stream of “content” (i.e. not art) regardless of it’s quality or relevance just to stay visible. We’re certainly not immune to these pressures ourselves, but does knowing your favourite band’s favourite breakfast cereal/favourite dinosaur/inside leg measurements really add anything meaningful to your relationship with their music? Call me old-fashioned, but I think the answer to that is a resounding NO. It’s also had an impact on gigs. Part of what used to make going to shows fun was that the setlist, the production and everything else would be a total surprise. These days, as soon as the first night of a tour is over it’s all over Youtube and the surprise is gone”.
Totally agree. Although now you’ve mentioned it, I’ve made a note to ask more people about their favourite Dinosaur in the future. My fave is Archaeopteryx if anyone’s interested. Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “I think I do festivals more often now, actually! When I was younger there were very few people I could persuade to come along with me. There’s a big gang of us that does Bloodstock most years now, though”.
How hard or indeed easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “Very easy. All the London venues are no more than an hour away by public transport, so we never had an issue getting to see the bands we wanted to see. Spoiled for choice!”
Yes indeed. The last year I lived in London I went to 285 gigs. That is quite a lot of choice. What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Master of Puppets – Metallica, Rock In Rio by Iron Maiden, Pantera‘s Vulgar Display of Power, Leviathan by Mastodon and Rage Against the Machine by Rage Against the Machine”
Anything else you’d like to reveal about your metal upbringing? “I disliked This is Spinal Tap the first time my Mum showed it to me. Utterly inconceivable now!”
Thanks for taking part!