Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Deathkiller {ex- Hatebreed} interview with, Guiartist Matt McIntosh. April 13, 2010.

Vista: Hey. To start things off, Please introduce yourself & tell us how you got into the hardcore scene? I'm wondering, what hardcore or punk band caught your attention? How old were you and also, what was the first hardcore/punk show you ever attended & where was that?

Matt: Hey John- I'm Matt McIntosh, but you already know that. Like most kids who start out getting into punk and hardcore, I had that one friend in middle school who turned me on to Black Flag, Negative Approach, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Reagan Youth, DOA, 7 Seconds. These were the first bands that really hooked me in. Up until this point I identified with very little. I was into The Police, The Cars... bands I still like, but nothing that caught my attention like hardcore and punk. I was 14 when I went to my first show. That was at The Anthrax when it was still in Stamford.. fall of '85. I don't remember who opened, but PTL Klub and Agression were the draw. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever experienced. I thought, this is for me. I'm a lifer.

Vista: Obviously, the most well known band you played in was Hatebreed. What year did you join the band & from your memory...How did that come about?

Matt: I joined the band around Jan '96. I'd known all those guys from the CT scene. We were all already buddies and I'd played in a few bands with Louie. I think Dave [drummer at the time] had told me that Wayne and Larry were quitting, next thing I knew I was tuning to C, learning the set, and getting my amp pushed over by 16 year olds crowding the stage.

Vista: How many tours did you do while in Hatebreed? At the time you joined, the band was popular yet not huge at this point. You guys were traveling by van & must have had some crazy times. Is there one story that really sticks out in your mind?

Matt: Hmm, probably did five or six proper tours. The first tour we did in Jamey's station wagon w/ a U-Haul on the back... five of us crammed in there for a few weeks. We went through a few vans, some solid and some barely street legal, unregisted, uninsured. But the tours were always fun. Even when it was freezing, we broke down, had no money to eat. At that point in my life there was nothing I'd rather be doing. Later we were able to afford good rentals and eventually we were on a bus, which was nice. Every day was fun and exciting. The 'hurry up and wait' aspect of touring had not set in yet. We were going to places we hadn't been. There is no single story that I could impart. Needless to say, crazy things happen with a handfull of guys in their early/mid 20s, driving across the country, with no one to answer to but each other.

Vista: From your perspective, how was your time with Hatebreed...As far as writing new material for the Victory Record debut {Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire}, how did the process go? I know things were very hectic at that time & maybe even rushed? I think having you in the band brought a actual "writer" into the fold? Certainly the songs seemed better structured. Thoughts?

Matt: It's funny, I was hanging out with Wayne a few weeks ago, who is back in the band after like 13 years or something. He was describing the writing process to a fan and I started laughing because it was almost verbatim what I used to say when asked the same question, which is that Jamey writes 99% of the material. When I was in the band, we played so much that we never had to rehearse. The only time we did was when writing 'Satisfaction. Jamey would hum a riff idea and I'd say, 'you mean like this?' And I'd play it and he'd say, 'yeah! but play the chug part tighter'. or something to that effect. That's how we wrote the record. A few of those songs we played only 2 or 3 times before we recorded them, but we were a fairly well oiled machine with all the touring. Aside from some arrangement ideas, I contributed very little to the writing. Beattie wrote some great riffs on that record, but it was mostly Jamey. He's got a real gift for it.

Vista: I wanted to ask you about Lou Richards. For those who don't know {shame on you}, Lou also played guitar for Hatebreed. Tell us something about Lou that people may not know? He seemed like such a big part of the band during this period. You were obviously close to him...And I'm sure you have a million stories but If you just let us know what type of guy he was?

Matt: Louie was a force of nature. He had a heart as big as all outdoors and is probably the funniest person I'll ever know in my life. If anybody ever mistook him as a knucklehead because he's this big, loud tattooed guy, then they never spoke to him face to face, because he was one of the brightest, most articulate, well informed people I ever knew. I learned a lot from him. I think I get pegged as being kind of intense and serious sometimes, but Louie used to goof on me and have me falling on the floor. He'd do anything for a laugh. The naked stage dives during Snapcase in New Haven sticks out in my mind as well. There used to be a machine in the mall where you can print business cards. He got several dozen made for his then girlfriend, who was Jewish. I remember it had her name in banner lettering across the center, and below that it said "One Prime Yenta". I think everybody in the CT scene got one of those. He was a huge part of how Hatebreed was percieved at that time. Louie had my back more times than I can count over the years we were friends. Not a day goes by I don't think of him at least once.

Vista: I'll ask because I have no clue. Why did you end up leaving Hatebreed? Looking back, after all these years, any regrets leaving? Also, were you ever approached to rejoin them at any point?

Matt: I just felt like it had run its course for me. It never had anything to do with any of the other guys. I felt at first like they took it personally, but it wasn't. I needed to do something different, that was the long and short of it. It was a fun three years and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but no, I never regretted leaving. I knew the band would be huge whether I was in it or not. I played one show with them maybe 5 or 6 months later, before Sean joined, and I think Louie mentioned me coming back. I missed the guys and the songs, but knew it should stay as it was. I was so relieved when Sean started playing with them. If I had to pick one guitarist in hardcore to take my place, it would have been Sean.

Vista: After all these years, what's your thoughts on Victory Records? From your experience dealing with them, were the decent or what most of the world thinks...Soulless Scumbags! HA!

Matt: I know some bands have horror stories about them, but I never had any problems with Victory. The guys were nice, treated us like kings when we came through Chicago, they bought me gear when I needed it, they busted their asses for the band, they didn't give us shit when we clearly cleaned out their distro warehouse... what's not to love?

Vista: You went onto form a band called Deathkiller. What year was this & can you give us a brief history of the band? Members & ex-members & what did you end up releasing with this project?

Matt: We started Deathkiller in spring 2006. After doing Eventide for years, I just wanted to do something angry, stripped down and heavy. It was me on guitar/vocs, Chrissy on bass and Anthony from Eventide on drums. In between he had also played with Most Precious Blood. While Chrissy was pregnant, Ian McFarland from Blood for Blood filled in, who's one of my best friends. We did a 3 song demo which got us a deal with I Scream Records, and released a full length with them called New England is Sinking, in April '07. I think we played our last show in late '08.

Vista: What were some influences, band-wise during this period? Also, did Deathkiller do any touring in America? I think I saw that you toured Europe? If so, when was that & how was it? What countries did you hit?

Matt: I was listening to a lot of the early American hardcore I grew up with when we started Deathkiller; Black Flag, Articles of Faith, Government Issue, Negative Approach. Those elements kind of cross-bred with the way I write these days and what came out was, I think, fairly unique. We did regional shows in the US, never a full tour. We'd play NJ, CT, NY, MA. ME, PA, pretty regularly. We did 8 shows in 10 days in Europe... a few with 108. It was an amazing time, a great experience. The most memorable shows were in Germany, Belgium and Holland, but they were all a lot of fun. Can't wait for a reason to go back.


Vista: Where did the name "Deathkiller" come from? What does that name mean or represent {if anything}? Were you just looking for a tough-assed name!? Ha!

Matt: Chrissy came up with the name. I think she thought it just sounded cool, which it did.. I liked the antagonistic nature of it. It's blasphemous and kind of poked fun at these bands with ultra creepy/tough names. It doesn't take a tough name and drop tuning to make you hard, it takes heart and conviction. That's what the name meant to me.

Vista: Deathkiller did a music video. How much did that cost & was that done just for fun or was it sent out to Headbangers Ball!?? Shit, couldn't Jamey sneak that onto "the Ball" since he was hosting it?

Matt: We did a video for Man Alone with Ian McFarland. We just paid to rent the lighting for the day and Ian shot and edited it for nothing. Again, he's a buddy, and he had been in the band. Ian's a great director/producer. He's done videos for Sick of it All, Meshuggha, Fear Factory and many more. Last year his Red Sox documentary was nominated for a few awards, and I think won at least one. We never submitted the video to Jamey. I've never been one to cash in favors, which sometimes irritates people I work with. haha.

Vista: Just to back track a bit...What did you think of Jamey Hosting Headbangers Ball? Do you think Riki Rachtnman could kick Jamey's ass?? Ha!

Matt: I think it's great that Jamey did the Ball. He's a natural spokesman, it's in his blood. And he did it tastefully. Come on, James grew up in the hardcore scene, he would ruin Rachtman..... and his hair.

Vista: Getting back to Deathkiller. Why did this band come to an end? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to d with this project?

Matt: It had run its course. I wanted to do something aggressive that would turn out at least one decent full length and get us to Europe. Deathkiller was specific to the Bush era. 95% of that album references him, the war, or that administration and its repercussions. We recorded about 6 new songs for the follow up, which will be released at some point.

Vista: I know recently you did a band called "IG!". How did this band come about? For those who are clueless...This band have a damn insane line-up. Please, give us a back-story on this band & what the hell does "IG!" stand for and mean? Did you guys release any music for this band?

Matt: Ig! is short for ignorant. We just wanted to do a fun band, kind of early hardcore with a rock and roll feel. Mostly it was a reason for a bunch of old friends to get together, drink beer, play music and act like teenagers. Mission accomplished. We did a Halloween show as IgFits! and played all Misfits songs. Aside from having my children, it was a high point of my adult life. haha. I do not know the future of Ig!, if there is any. Lineup was: Pete Morcey [Forced Reality/100 Demons] vocs, Larry Dwyer [Hatebreed/Death Threat] Guitar, Dave Russo [Hatebreed] drums, Sean Brickley [Pale Horse] bass, and me on 2nd guitar. We released a 4 song demo, which you can probably get through the myspace page.

Vista: Matt, what was your first connection to music in general? As a kid, what band made you be like, "wow, I want to do that"! How old were you when you first started playing guitar & what was the first song you learned? Also, did you take any formal training on guitar & did you play any instruments in school? First rock or metal concert ever attended?

Matt: My mom was always listening to music from when I was very young. She'd always play records and have the radio on in the car. I loved Simon & Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles. these were her LPs. I immediately knew that I wanted to play music and write songs. I could never see myself doing anything else. It wasn't until getting into hardcore in my early teens where I saw guys not much older than me playing. Then I thought, yeah, I can do this. It went from there. My mom got me a used Peavey guitar when I was 15. My buddy who introduced me to punk played as well. I watched him using barre chords and I figured it out. I rarely asked questions as a kid. I just observed and sussed out my own way. First song learned was probably Black Flag's version of Louie Louie. But I didn't like playing existing songs. I wanted to come up with my own stuff. I played trumpet in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, and was decent. Never took any other lessons, guitar or otherwise. I have never been to a metal concert, but I saw Duran Duran with my sister in '84. After that it was just sweaty basement/rec hall punk shows.

Vista: You played some shows at the Anthrax in Connecticut. What band was that with? How was it? There are a million stories about that place & a really decent book. What were some memories about that place & actually playing there?

Matt: My first band The Entombed [not the Swedish metal band] played The Anthrax about a half dozen times. Shows there were always great. My first show was Nov '87, opening for Reagan Youth, who were one of my favorite bands. There was a built in crowd, and if you had a little buzz, you'd probably get a pit stirring at your first gig, which we somehow did. Most of my memories from that era are great. The ones that aren't so great have less to do with the club itself and more to do with my life at that time. Teenage turmoil and all that fun shit. Nobody really knew how fortunate we were to have that place until it shut down. When you're 16, you just assume every state has a few Anthrax type clubs, but the fact was that it was really unique. I felt the Stamford location had a bit more purity to it, as far as early American punk values go. But both spots were amazing places to have come of age and experience what would become a lifestyle. Chris Daly did a great job documenting the real story, and I was proud to take part in it.

Vista: These days {spring/2010}...What are your current musical projects? I saw that you have a free download offer on your myspace site. Tell us about that? 

Matt: Right around the time the Deathkiller CD was released, my second child was born and I was spending a lot of time at home. I started writing and recording some songs in my cellar on some old gear. When I let some friends hear they urged me to release it, so I put them up for free download on and it kind of took on a life of its own, started getting reviewed, blogged about, podcasted... next thing I knew there are like 25,000 downloads. So it became The Basement Demos, an 8 song EP. I couldn't believe how well it was being received. Two and a half years later it's all over the world and I'm starting to find the time to work on a follow up.

Vista: What are your thoughts on the current hardcore scene? Is it even anything you give a crap about? Any bands out there that you're into, hardcore-wise?

Matt: Well, like most HC guys my age, you can only hear that formula recycle so many times. That's not to say that their aren't some excellent bands doing some really pure and passionate hardcore, because there are. I'll check out CT bands because it's home and because there's a rich legacy there, but I'm not up on the national scene like I once was. I thought Suicide File from Boston really got it right.. but even that's going back 6 or 7 years. Pale Horse from CT are excellent as well.

Vista: You're a guy that has been around for a long time...What are your top 10 essential punk/hardcore albums...EVER!?

Matt: In no particular order:
Black Flag - Damaged
Negative Approach - Tied Down
The Clash - London Calling
Reagan Youth - Youth Anthems for the New Order
Generation X - s/t
Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain
Flex Your Head - Dischord compilation
Misfits - Walk Among Us
Rest in Pieces - My Rage
Not so Quiet on the Western Front - Maximum RnR compilation

Vista: What's the last 5 bands you've put on your ipod? Assuming you own one? Are they the best thing in the last 10 years or soul-less hunks of crapola!?

Matt: hmm, I haven't updated my iPod knock-off in months. I really don't recall, but I will say that the 5 artists I have most of on there are The Clash, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Flag, Tom Waits and The Beatles.

 Vista: What are your thoughts on everyone who downloads music off the internet. Are you for it, against it? You've done many different bands..On many different levels. Did this affect you or piss you off, or is it just the way it is?

Matt: Download the world. I love it. It does not affect or piss me off. The days of the millionaire rock star are over. Artists will need to work harder touring to make money, but it levels the playing field and I think will ultimately separate true passion from fakes.

Vista: Speaking of music downloads...Where do yo see music labels & bands heading in the future? Is it going to be all about exclusive downloads & the extinction of Cd's?

Matt: It's hard to say. Downloading will probably remain king but I think labels will find new and interesting way to fleece their bands and their bands' fans.

Vista: Up to this point...What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment with bands that you've done? Pick one or two standouts?

Matt: I've heard that Satisfaction was certified gold. That's pretty cool. But it's not really "my" record. I was really proud of the Deathkiller album. We did it the way we wanted. I read a review of it that said it defined the Bush era the way Dead Kennedys' Plastic Surgery Disasters defined the Reagan era. It's not what I was shooting for when I wrote it, but I am proud of the way it was received.
Also, for something that was just a personal project, I'm really proud of the way The Basement Demos opened me up to a whole new audience.

Vista: Matt. Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. We go back many years....We were actually YOUNG when we first met. I have so much respect for you, first & foremost as a person. I'm glad just to email back & forth just to see how you're doing. So, thank you! This is all I have for you for this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to say? Future projects? You're an old school guy...How about some "SHOUT-OUTS"!? Ha! Also, what's the best way to contact you?

Matt: Thanks John- you always stood out as one of the good guys. Glad to see you're recharging your journalistic batteries. Always great to hear from you. Thanks to all of my friends and all who have supported my endeavors over the years. The best way to reach me is through my MySpace page:

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