The Story of My Love
"Using only a piece of wood with wires attached, Matt Duane Griffin set out to transcend the world's pain and bring us all to a place of greater comfort and purer joy. He did not swing the wood around violently. He did not use it as a weapon. He did dance with it, and he did occasionally strike it with boyish abandon, but most often he coaxed sounds from it and used the sounds to support his singing, which is the true vehicle for his spiritual journey. From place to place he wandered, singing and wielding his totem. Sometimes making a new friend, always doing his best to lift and bring together all those who might hear him."
I am a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and banjo player who has been playing music in various forms since I was in the third grade. From piano lessons to marching band to experimental noise recordings to punk rock to folk rock to folk to bluegrass and country, I have been guided by an abiding love of music in all forms throughout my life. My grandfather Murble Clyde Matthews was a folk singer in the truest sense and a country music fan, and I try hard to follow in his footsteps. I use styles like country, folk, and power pop with reference points like Gene Clark, Husker Du, Ernest Tubb and Townes Van Zandt to place you on the map pointed towards my personal north. My songs are deceptively simple; subtle, but simultaneously straightforward and emotionally clear.
I have gigged from coast to coast and have opened for such artists as Mark Erelli and Dana Robinson. At the time of this writing, I have upcoming shows with artists like Oen Kennedy, Lisa Bastoni, and Sam Bayer. I have garnered airplay on left of the dial radio stations across the country for my first CD "Forty Minutes off Your Trip." My friend Jeff Farr says "[Forty Minutes] is very heartfelt. Great singing and songwriting." I am currently finishing a new CD entitled "Facing the Wind," which brings my love of country and bluegrass music to the fore while providing the best example yet of my particularly melodic and heart - intelligent songwriting. I am also currently planing my first solo Southwest tour, which will happen in May of 2005.
I was born far too many years ago in the sleepy mall town of Redondo Beach, CA. I have been playing music since I was 10, but I have always been a music fan. I pestered my parents to buy me Beatles and Beach Boys records from the time I was 3. I loved Buck Owens, the Four Seasons, Jackie DeShannon, Hank Williams, Bobbi Gentry, Elvis, The Doors, and virtually any music I heard in those days, without judgement and with my whole heart. Today my heart is still full, even though I do now judge music. One must lose one's innocence, I guess.
I took piano lessons for a few months when I was in the third grade, but the teacher had to stop for family reasons. The next year I began a school years long involvement with marching band and concert band. My instrument was trombone. I played many halftime shows, marched in parades, played concerts and rode on band buses.
My family moved from place to place in the states of Colorado, California, and Arizona, with a two-year stop in Maine, where I graduated high school. This left me chronically lonely but afforded me ample opportunity to develop my creative side. When I was a teenager I wrote science fiction novels (now sadly lost) and played in high school band. I was very aware of the media, as any American child is, but I delved deeper. As an avowed outsider, I developed a passion for music that other people didn't know about. I recall fondly sitting on my front porch in Yuma, AZ listening to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's "Trout Mask Replica" lp, feeling like I was the only person for hundreds of miles who knew this music. If you know that record, you know its blend of surrealist poetry and fractured guitar sounds is actually a careful and faithful blending of Howlin' Wolf's blues and Eric Dolphy's exploratory jazz. Here are more clues to my approach to music. I try to be forward looking but include elements of tradition.
After high school I cast about for what to do, and eventually found myself in Tucson, AZ, buying lots of underground rock music, picking up bass guitar, and embarking on a career as a punk musician. I played in numerous bands, from the oddest noise rock to the silliest of cover bands. I never seemed to have the requisite soul darkness to be a good hardcore punker, and after a while I did cotton to the notion that "hardcore punk" was an oxymoron. Punk rock was, at least in my opinion, about individuality and "hardcore" implies the acme of conformity. I began to notice that a lot of my friends were calling it "hardcore" and dropping the "punk". I agreed, but instead of making me want to get more tattoos and piercings, it made me want to move on, so I did. I won't mention the names of the first two punk bands I played in because the names are rude and unprintable and the music was pretty mediocre. I will mention the third and most successful, Conflict (U. S.). That was my first experience with touring and there are recordings of this band extant. I'm not on any of those recordings, because I was only in the band at the very end. It is worth noting that we played all over the Southwest in the 3 months I was with the band.
My next band was Los Hamsters, a garagey cover band that garnered a strong local following in Tucson, though we never did record. In this band my songwriting skills took a great leap forward. I was able to bring my melodic sense to the fore and I wrote lyrics I actually liked. My rule at the time was to drop any material I had written for a particular project when that project ended. So unfortunately (or fortunately, in some cases) the songs for this and my next several bands are pretty much lost, with a couple of exceptions where things actually got recorded.
I played in a couple more bands. PS Bingo was a summer project with friends of mine who were attending college out of town, and was an exercise in perversity with weird and shifting instrumentation, chromatic chord progressions and obscure and quirky cover songs. The Cryptics was a loud rock band with debts owed to sixties legends like the Doors and Blind Faith and 80s underground bands like the Gun Club, Green on Red and X. The Cryptics almost had a single come out on Bomp / Voxx records, but a truly awful mix and hard headedness by various band members (who, me?) nixed it. Very soon thereafter our two awesome guitarists moved out of town simultaneously and we never recovered from our losses.
Around the same time I became one of 4 members of the Cryptics (and 2 Los Hamsters) to play in the Marshmallow Overcoat, a pure 80s take on mid-60s garage rock bands like the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Chocolate Watchband. This band was formed by Tim Gassen and exists to this day. I am on several late 80s recordings of this band. Look for the "Try On... The Marshmallow Overcoat" CD.
In late '88 I moved to Boston to give music a try in the city which had produced the Pixies and the Throwing Muses, two of my favorite bands at the time.
A few months after my arrival here I hooked up with a band we eventually named The Carolinas, which included local personality Mikey Dee and a folk singer from Lexington, Kentucky by way of Virginia Beach, Virginia named Paula Sinclair. Paula taught me a lot about country and folk music.
I began to listen to more acoustic music for three reasons. The first was definitely Paula, the second was because of all the singer songwriter types who played in the subways and whom I was really digging, and the third was because I was starting to realize I missed the country music I had grown up with. Until then I had thought I didn't like much. Of course, now I realize I had always loved it.
The Carolinas were beginning to build a local following and were sounding pretty fabulous when, once again, our awesome lead guitarist quit the band on the day we mixed our first recording. Once again, the band never recovered and eventually we all went our separate ways.
So ended my career as a bassist in rock bands. The heartbreak was just too much to take. I took up acoustic guitar and soon was playing in the subways and at open mikes around Boston. I met new friends like Mary Gauthier, Jess Klein, Kris Delmhorst, Sean Staples, and a host of wonderful others. I felt like I was in the midst of the best musical milieu I had yet found. Once again, my songwriting began to improve.
I blended pop, country, and folk styles on my debut solo CD, "Forty Minutes Off Your Trip." From the straight - ahead acoustic rock of Fell in Love, through to the gentle denouement of The Weather, this CD is truly a journey through my mind and heart. My hope is that it seems a unique journey.
My second full length CD, Facing the Wind brings the country and bluegrass sounds I'm so fond of to the fore. It includes stellar performances from Boston folk scene mainstays the Resophonics (Eric Royer, Sean Staples, Tim Kelly, and Nolan McKelvey), Kris Delmhorst, and Fishken and Groves. The CD is due to land in October 2004, so be on the lookout for it, and for me on an acoustic music stage near you, very, very soon.
Check out the artist's website:
1. These Rails, This Tunnel
2. Another Day
3. Who Wants That?
4. Clouds of Mary Anne
5. New Town
6. Forest Green
7. If I Ever Will
8. Play The Game
9. Need Me, Too
10. The Sweetest Gift, A Mother's Smile