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Q&A: Matt and Matt of The Matinee

The Matinee is a BC band, and you may have caught them at UFV’s grand opening of CEP last year where they played a huge outdoor concert. They’ve recently released a new album and a hit single, “Young and Lazy,” which was featured in The Cascade’s CIVL Shuffle last week. I caught up with Matt Rose and Matt Layzelle in a busy Regina coffee shop during the Juno weekend as other musicians and fans came and went around us.

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By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: May 22, 2013

Matt Layzelle (centre) and Matt Rose (second from right) of the BC band The Matinee performed at this year’s Juno Award weekend

The Matinee is a BC band, and you may have caught them at UFV’s grand opening of CEP last year where they played a huge outdoor concert. They’ve recently released a new album and a hit single, “Young and Lazy,” which was featured in The Cascade’s CIVL Shuffle last week. I caught up with Matt Rose and Matt Layzelle in a busy Regina coffee shop during the Juno weekend as other musicians and fans came and went around us. 

First question: how do you spell your names?

Rose: Matt, with two t’s, and Rose is my last name, so R-O-S-E .

Layzelle: Matt, with two t’s, and Layzelle, L-A-Y-Z-E-L-L-E.

Ah, I see. So you’re both Matt. That was the real question. I was told I was meeting Matt and I wasn’t sure …

L: … which one. [laughs] It’s all good. We share an email address so no one really knows who they’re speaking to.

R: It’s very coded.

Maybe there’s a conspiracy and you’re the same person.

R: It’s possible.

L: No … there are a few similarities but it ends there.

Well, you could be the Fight Club of Canadian music. 

L: I like that. I really do like that.

R: First rule: don’t talk about The Matinee.

L: That wouldn’t work.

R: Yeah, we need the press.

So you guys have been travelling for a while now. 

L: We just got home from a five-week stint across Canada and back home through the states. We just got home on Sunday, had five days at home, and then back out here. And then we get home for a few weeks, and we’ll be heading back out across Canada again.

R: Hopefully there’s less snow this time around.

L: I couldn’t believe there’s still snow here.

I imagine the city for you right now is like a conference of musicians. What’s that like for you?

L: Whenever you’re at a festival like this, it’s the opportunity to catch up with bands – and what’s funny is that there’s so many bands from Vancouver that we never see in Vancouver because they’re always gone. So you meet up at these events. Like last night we saw friends of ours, Acres of Lions. They’re from Victoria. We’ve seen them maybe three times this year, and it’s always been in Toronto. We can never meet anywhere else, but randomly we happen to be passing through Toronto at the same time.

There’s the other aspect of it too – you have these friends who you’re friends with through music, and you might not be friends with them otherwise, but you depend on these relationship when you’re out there because you don’t know anybody else. So it’s nice to have some familiarities when you’re out there.

Who are you excited to see play this week, or who do you wish you could see?

R: I’m excited to see Carly Rae at the awards show. I’m interested to see if she’ll play “Call Me Maybe.”

I think she has to. 

L: I’ve heard she sometimes has to play it twice at a show.

R: I’m excited to see it.

L: I was actually part of the Juno judging committee this year, so I got to listen to all the artists nominated for the roots category, and some of my new favourite albums came out of listening to all of them. One of the bands is staying at our hotel – they’re called The Strumbellas. I wish we could see them, but they play tonight at midnight, which is when we play.

Do you get a lot of chances to see live music when you’re on the road?

R: No, no. There’s never time. The one thing we try to do is go to hockey games, and even that’s a challenge.

L: The tough part about touring – like our last tour, we were gone for 34 days and I think we had 26 shows. So I mean, every day is just routine. Every day you get to the venue, you set up, you soundcheck, you have dinner, you watch the local opener, then you’re getting ready and you play, you sell merch through the next band, then you pack up and try to get some sleep and drive to the next place. It’s a grind, it really is, and there’s no time for the fun stuff you want to try to fit in.

How do you keep it fresh every night, if you’re doing a show every day for 30 days?

R: For me, when you’re in a new city and you have a new group of fans to play for – there’s always a fresh energy in every city with a new group of people.

L: Every show, every room, every crowd has a different dynamic and a different energy. The reality is, if you’re playing the same song every night but the crowd is singing along and really enjoying it and getting into it, I don’t know how you get bored of that. That’s what we love to do.

I noticed on your website that you’ve played in a prison. 

L: Yeah, a couple.

How does that even work? Do you call up a prison and say, hey, I’d like to play you a show?

L: [Joking] Well, we were doing time—

R: [Joking] Yeah, one of our guys was in jail, and—

L: [Serious] For the better part of four years, we did a tour where we were teamed up with the BC Schizophrenia Society, and they have a program called Reach Out, and it’s an awareness program where they go to schools, to colleges, to prisons, and do a presentation trying to raise awareness about mental health and psychosis, and early psychosis prevention. Which is obviously a pretty heavy topic, especially in a school.

So they got us involved to be a conduit to allow the kids to be excited about the topic. So we would play music and talk, and it got to the point where we were actually doing most of the talking. There used to be a facilitator, but then we learned a lot about the topic and began speaking about it quite a bit. It was rewarding, because we were legitimately connecting with an audience. After every show, you’d have kids come up and say, “I have a friend who’s tried to commit suicide – how can I help them,” or “I have a friend who hears voices.” So you realize you’re really making a difference on some level.

So that tour took us all over BC, and Yukon … virtually everywhere, to get that message out there. And we stopped in a few jails and prisons. Probably some of the stranger set-ups we’ve ever had for a show – we got all the inmates in jumpsuits on bleachers with armed guards behind them, and we played our show and did the presentation and they were given 20 minutes to hang out with us and talk afterwards … It was weird, it was surreal. We were actually making a connection with these people. We were playing hacky sack with them, and you’d have no clue what they’d done. They’d obviously done something to be there. And then the 20 minutes was up, and that was their free time for the day. It was a really strange experience.

R: Matt always says it’s a captive audience. It’s the truth.

L: They didn’t find it funny.

R: They didn’t find it funny, no.

So was the energy of that crowd, on a base level, the same as any other concert?

L: There were guys who got into it, for sure, and then you could tell there were some that were there because they had to be there.

R: It’s the same with the schools, too.

L: And the prisons had segregated populations, so there were the men and the women and they don’t interact whatsoever. So we had the men come into the gymnasium, and we played for them, and then they left and the female population came into the gymnasium, and that was scarier. Women who are in prison for that amount of time are hardened women. They were intimidating. It was actually more intimidating than the men.

R: They were badass women.

So how do you get involved with a project like that?

L: We actually started doing it before there was The Matinee – it was another band that our bass player and I had. They got involved with us because our bass player had dealt with depression quite severely when he was in high school, so he was definitely tied to the cause. That’s why we got involved in the first place.

My next question links back to the new single, “Young and Lazy,” where you say that you’ve now passed the point of being young and lazy. 

L: [Pointing to the other Matt] Ha, that’s your quote.

R: Yes. We’re old now. And hardworking.

Is that really true?

R: Yeah. Well, not that we’re old. But the whole song was written as very reflective of where we were in that period of our lives, coming out of high school, late teens. It’s exactly what we were like when we were 17, 18, 19, sneaking into pools, sneaking into construction sites to steal wood for skateboard ramps. We’re with a label now, but up until releasing this record, for four years prior to that, we’ve been doing it all almost entirely on our own. It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where we are.

L: I think that the reality is that this is what we’ve chosen to do. You quickly learn, if you want to stick it out in music, that it’s not easy. You have to work hard and make your own breaks. It’s nothing that you can take lightly. You can’t take any opportunity for granted – you have to keep hustling. You can’t be lazy. The song harkens back to that carefree first summer after high school where you don’t really know what you’re going to do, and you just want to have fun. We very much want to be in a band because it’s fun – it’s just fun to get into a van and tour and play shows. But we’ve learned since then that none of that’s possible unless you work hard. We’ve grown up since that time. It’s a job, and you have to treat it that way.

So what would you call this new period in your lives, as a band?

R: The age of enlightenment.

L: [Singing] It’s the age of Aquarius …

R: It’s like – even though we’re now working with a label, and we’re working with a publicist, and they’re all part of our team, we’re still working as hard as we were before. We’re keeping the pedal to the metal.

L: Let’s call it the migration period.

R: Yeah.

L: As Jeff, who’s not always one for the best sound clips, said, “It’s time for us to be not that band in Vancouver, but that band from Vancouver.” Was that what he said? That’s not what he said.

R: I don’t think that’s totally it. But it’s close.

L: See, I screwed that up.

R: Yeah, you did screw that up.

L: But in essence, what he was trying to say was it’s time for us to develop elsewhere. We’ve done a lot in Vancouver, and it’s great that it’s our home base, but we have to win fans one by one across the rest of the country. So that’s where we’re at now. Migration.

R: The migration period.

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