Having guested on Atomkraft's cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" as well as issuing solo instrumental EP "Slave To The Fingers" on November 28th, Australian melodic rock guitarist Joe Matera released his first full solo album “Creature of Habit” on September 3rd through W.A.R. Productions in Europe and Mercury Fire Music in Australia.
A twenty-year veteran, Matera was a lead guitarist in Australian rock outfit Geisha (2007-2010) and founding lead guitarist of Double Vision (2003-2008). His track "Starry Night" appeared on the soundtrack to Australian movie "Ricky! The Movie", the man also serving as lead guitarist in the orchestra for stage productions of "Les Misérables" and "Chess".
A music journalist as well, the Australian has written for the following publications: Ultimate-Guitar.com, Australian Guitar and Rolling Stone in Australia, Classic Rock, Guitar & Bass, Guitar Buyer, Acoustic, Metal Hammer, Performing Musician, Total Guitar, Kerrang!, Record Collector, Guitar World, Goldmin, Guitarra Total in Spain, and Chitarre in Italy.
Joe Matera, who was about to leave for a small European tour, was gracious enough to take some time to do an interview with LazyRocker.com this week and discuss his latest release “Creature of Habit”
LazyRocker.com: First of all congratulations with your new album “Creature of Habit”. How are the reactions so far?
Joe Matera: So far the reactions to it have been fantastic and positive. So I am happy with it, but it’s just been released, so hopefully as more reviews and feedback come filtering through, it will give a much clearer picture. But as it stands, it’s been great so far.
LR: Why did you call the album “Creature of Habit”?
JM: It was my wife Liz who came up with the album title. I am a very ritualistic person, I like doing some things in certain way daily, like each morning the first thing I do is to have a cup of coffee and check my emails. Every time, it is the first thing I do, so the title kind of sums up that aspect to my personality.
LR: Usually I am not always a fan of instrumental rock as the guitar player mostly tries too hard to show his skills. Often also too experimental for me. Your guitar playing is more in service of the songs. How do you look on this?
JM: Yes I am all for the song, its not about how many notes I can fit in, or how fast I can play or how many guitar parts I can add, that would not be in service of the song, but in service of the ego. It would be self-indulgent and boring to not only myself but to the listener. There is nothing worse than going on a tangent and playing a 20 minute long winded guitar solo. For me it’s got to tell a story, its got to have emotional content, its got to be in service of what the song needs and requires. And it’s got to be melodic. The thing with instrumental music is you have to tell the story without vocals which is harder. For me, I look at the arrangement, I look at the individual parts, I look at the sonic colours and the choice of notes. If it requires one note to say something, then so be it. If it requires a flurry of notes, then again so be it. But it’s that fine balance you have to work to achieve which is the ultimate destination.
LR: “Creature of Habit” contains one track “Fallen Angel” (which is also the lead single) with vocals. I expected a guest singer but it turned it out it is Joe Matera on vocals himself! I really like it. Now I wonder why not more songs with vocals?
JM: I’ve always sung a song or two during the course of career with many of my previous bands, but singing as a front person has never been my main forte. I am more comfortable as a guitarist so shy away a lot from being a lead vocalist. I did originally plan to have a guest singer on my track, and actually got someone to sing it on an early version, and though he did a good job, it didn’t really capture the essence and feel of the song and what I wanted from the vocals. So after much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and record the track with my own lead vocal. And a lot people are liking the song and my vocals, so who knows, maybe in the future I will release more vocal songs.
LR: While listening to the new album there were several moments that reminded me of the legendary band Boston, especially “Fallen Angel”. When I was preparing this interview I read one of your influences was Tom Scholz. Do you agree with me and how did he influence you?
JM: Yes, Boston and Tom Scholz in particular is a huge influence on my playing and approach. I remember hearing More Than A Feeling for the first time as a ten year old, it blew me away, it was one of the great melodic rock tracks on radio. It had all the ingredients which I loved; solos that were hum-able, guitar harmonies, big vocals and harmonies and twin guitar interplays. I never wrote Fallen Angel with any specific influence in mind, it came out the way it did, and I guess one’s influence will come out in some form or another unconsciously. And to hear a Boston influence in Fallen Angel, is a compliment for me as I loved the band’s ballads such as Amanda, so in some way those acoustic guitars meets electric guitars and harmonized vocals influence must have seeped through.
LR: Do you think there is a market for instrumental rock albums?
JM: I absolutely believe there is a market for it, and always has been, but the trouble today is that radio influences a lot of people’s musical tastes so if people don’t hear anything aside from what’s on the radio, they’ll never know what else is out there. The wonderful thing about the internet is it has opened up avenues for people to search and discover new and other music and to find what “they” might like. I think in the next couple of years instrumental music is going to big again, you just have to look at some of the major artists, beside the normal “guitar” guys such as Satriani and Vai who are now also releasing instrumental records, Santana released one recently, and so I hear is Neal Schon…
LR: And for instrumental rock shows??
JM: I think there is also a market and interest for instrumental shows. I mean Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, in their instrumental genre do many successful live shows, as do bands like The Ventures and The Shadows, so definitely there is a place for instrumental music. My live show isn’t just about the music, it is about the performance and the energy and musician’s interplay onstage. It is the whole package put together, but obviously it is the instrumental songs themselves that drive it all and is the focus.
LR: Is living in Australia hard in order to spread your music?
JM: it is very hard, the climate in Australia is not conducive to the style of music that I play, and though I do have a strong support base and a small fan base, its Europe where my music is really being appreciated and supported in a major way. And the fan base there grows steadily each day. Which is why I am touring there, there is a market for my music there and also for instrumental shows.
LR: You did many interviews as a journalist yourself. Is there still someone you really would like to interview? And why?
JM: I’ve done so many interviews, I’ve done close to 600 interviews during my career, which is a lot. I’ve interviewed a lot of my main heroes such Ace Frehley, Hank Marvin, Rick Nielsen and others but there’s a few I still I haven’t done and prove elusive mainly Jimmy Page and Dave Gilmour.
LR: In 2013 you are planning to release an album under the name DAVENPORT/MATERA. What can you tell us about this album?
JM: There are plans for a Davenport/Matera album for 2013, in fact Davenport/Matera is the band that is playing with me on my UK shows. Rich Davenport and myself are co-writing some new music for the album, stuff that’s in a more heavier-melodic rock vein with vocals, but its early days as yet…
LR: Any other future plans you would like to share with our readers?
JM: The plans I have is to have a successful European tour, then come back and do some Australian shows and hopefully be able to return to Europe in 2013 and do more shows in other countries.
LR: Thank you for your time and hope to see you on the road one day!
JM: Like wise, and many thanks to you too.