MATT FEDDERMANN

FeddermannHow did your love affair with rock & roll begin? As a kid listening to Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Elvis, Jerry Lee and more on 104.3 the oldies station in Chicago. My Dad was/is a big oldies fan and that radio station was all he ever listened to. “Smoke on the Water,” “Wild Thing” or “Iron Man” are the first songs most guitarists learn. Mine was “That’ll Be The Day” and “It’s So Easy”.

What were the first three albums you ever purchased and which of those holds up best today to you? Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Run DMC Raising Hell and Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood. Thriller holds up best to me, hands down.

When did you start writing songs and how do they ‘come together’ for you most often? 7th/8th grade with my very first band, Vertigo. Songs come in many ways. Sometimes I’ll be driving a melody with pop in my head, or, I’ll hear a phrase that I like and will write a song around it. Sometimes, I’ll be jamming with other musicians and we write the music and then lyrics will follow.

You’ve managed to carve out a nice niche on the north shore by being a respected ‘jack of all trades’, how has your business model evolved over the past few years ?  My business model hasn’t changed all that much. With the internet and all of the social media resources as my disposal, communicating with fans is much easier on one hand and on the other takes three times as long. I literally work all day to book shows, promote shows, create content to increase my brand awareness, etc..

What advice do you give to young bands trying to build a following and, in turn, get better gigs? A few thing. The BIGGEST thing is to be friendly and outgoing. I try to meet as many people at gigs as possible. Anytime someone gives me a tip, a compliment, a thumbs up, a high five, anything, I make sure to introduce myself and ask them their name. A 30 second engagement can mean a new long term fan. Your fans can be and are your biggest promoters. The more people that come to your shows, the better the bigger the gigs will grow, the more opportunities will open up along with making more money.

Do you have to become Facebook (say hey to Matt) exhibitionists to play the game?  If you are not on social media, you are at a severe disadvantage. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.. Ever walk into a bar to play a gig and everyone is staring at their phones and not you. Chances are they are on one of the previously mentioned sites. Get your “b(r)and” in front of as many eyeballs as possible. A large number of the population spends hours a day staring at their electronic device.

Years ago it seemed as if the Chicago music media shunned artists / bands that came out of the north shore as if they didn’t deserve the coverage; in fact many bands sought to hide the fact so they weren’t labeled as ‘rich brats: does this hold true at all today? Ya know, the scene is so much different these days. Music oriented local Chicago media has shrunk considerably in the last 10 years. Local Anesthetic on WXRT is only 30 minutes on Sunday nights (does anyone listen to terrestrial radio anymore?). Illinois Entertainer only seems to cover the south and western suburbs. Cover bands are a PLENTY these days.

In Chicago, much as in NYC, often musicians get put in one category or another: either your a working musician or an artist…. Is one the dream job and the other vehicle? I’ve been struggling with that for YEARS and I think I’ve finally found a balance. I have two very different song writing styles. One of very acoustic based and the other electric guitar/keys/synth based. I market them differently. I do my acoustic singer/songwriter originals and covers thing in the suburbs where you can make money and use some of that money to pay for my “original artist” project called Monsoons. I keep specific email and facebook lists that are geographically based. I rarely send updates regarding my acoustic covers thing to gatekeepers and decision makers in Chicago and abroad, I send them Monsoons updates. It’s not an easy thing to do and it takes a lot of time, but, it’s doable. My gigs at local restaurants and bars in the burbs has paid for the recording sessions & music video first few Monsoons songs. In fact, producer/mix wizard Sean O’Keefe (Fallout Boy, Plain White T’s) is mixing the first single. – Matt Feddermann

Advertisements

STEVE GERLACH w/ TOMORROW THE MOON

Is Rock & Roll dead yet? Rock & Roll is hanging by the skin of its ass. We are that skin.

What is your favorite stage guitar and why? I can get by with just about any Gibson. For me, at this point, the pedals are almost more crucial than any specific guitar.

How would you describe Tomorrow The Moon? Tomorrow The Moon is about quality songs and a spacey rock vibe. We don’t go out of our way to try and be “different,” but some people still seem to think that a band can’t have  prog leanings and still be ‘punk.’ The fact is, music is still evolving, or at least trying to. But if you try too hard, you’ll lose sight of the songs. If you don’t have a song, you don’t have anything. There are things ‘Tomorrow The Moon’ will never do. “Jamming” is one of them. There are others, too, like growing beards.

You have toured a good deal, how do you like the road? I enjoy the bits of touring I’ve done because I know they will end. Some people don’t want it to end. I have a life here in Chicago, and particularly in the summer, I don’t have an urge to leave. But music has taken me places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone, and I have no regrets.

Have you ever smashed a guitar? I did sort of smash the hell out of one of my favorites due to a terrible monitor mix that only got worse. The neck was badly broken… I immediately felt bad about it, but it made some cool noises when I jumped all over it, so I guess the audience must have loved it, not that I was aware… I had pretty bad bruises on my knees the next day. Tommy Keene refers to those sort of incidents as “glamour fits.” The guitar recovered fully.

Why do you love The Kinks so much? Songs! I saw them on Sept. 17th, 1980 and it was super high-energy. By that time they had a wealth of material, the best material any band ever had. And they just totally rocked.

Do you ever get angry when you are playing guitar? Is that an emotion that makes sense in rock? If the song is angry, sure. Not as many things make me angry now as when I was young. One of the things that makes me want to slit my wrists is that happy, upbeat positive music that you hear on ‘adult rock’ radio stations. There’s a place for that stuff, I guess, but that place is not anywhere near me.

Will radio ever have a “Tivo” feature? I don’t know if there are enough people listening to radio for the development of a Tivo-type feature to make sense. Satellite radio and Pandora have that covered more or less, right? If it’s cost-effective, then it will happen.

Does every band need a love song? No, I don’t think every band needs a love song; in fact, it can be very awkward when a band whose range has never included love songs tries to go there. Metallica suddenly tried to add that layer to their bag of tricks one day, and if it wasn’t a commercial flop, well, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an artistic flop.

What happened to Sting? Sting got famous writing songs that were inspired by and about being very unhappy, and then all of the sudden he couldn’t tap into that emotion anymore because has was too happy. Success completely changed him, as it does to almost anyone. McCartney was happy to begin with, so he was relatively unfazed by success, whereas Lennon started whining about his childhood after the Beatles broke up. The truth is, he was out of ideas, so he started trying to tap into his unhappy youth. Who cares? He had already peaked. I’m starting to sound like Gene Simmons, so it must be time to go ~