Face to face with… /// Matadors

Young up-and-coming bands of the UK prove to be a very talented lot. And have you ever doubted why British music has the title of the best one in the world? If you did, we’re ready to contradict you. Rock Britain caught up with the alternative whiz kids Matadors and talked to the band’s bass player Ollie and drummer Luke about the advantage of singles over EPs, recordings with Ant West and music influences, to name the few.

– Tell us the story of how Matadors appeared?

Ollie: Funnily enough we met each other online initially through a website called joinmyband.com, I posted an ad looking for a guitarist’s, luckily Sam and Robin replied and we went from there!

Luke: I joined the band in December 2011, before then I was playing in other local bands and that’s how I met the lads. We all got on really well and joining the band seemed like the most natural thing to do!

– You’re releasing your music in the form of singles. Why have you decided to stick to releasing singles, but not, say EPs? What are, in your opinion, the advantages of singles?

Ollie: We like to keep our listeners interested and always wanting to hear whats coming next, by releasing singles rather than an EP we can ensure that people never know what the next song is going to sound like and don’t give away too much to soon!

Luke: We haven’t got round to writing a full EP yet, However, we had the two singles (‘She’s In Control’ and ‘Speaking In Silence’) written along with a third yet to be released, (‘Scarlett’.) Instead of waiting to release a full length EP, We wanted to get these tunes out there to try and secure a fan base! I think singles work really well for a band like ourselves who are just starting out because it allows us to show our audiences what we’ve got, kind of hinting at what our EP or album will be like eventually! If they like it, they’ll stick with us!    

– You had Ant West as the producer of your tunes. How did you like working with him?

Ollie: Ant is such a talented and underrated musican/producer, every session we’ve had with him has been a real learning curve for us as we’ve come away having learnt some great little tricks about songwriting and production, he’s left a real imprint on our tunes and we’ll be seeing a lot more of him for sure!

Luke: I loved every minute of it! I was a huge fan of Futures even before I joined Matadors so to work with Ant was really cool! He’s a great guy and we really felt that he knew what we wanted to achieve through the singles! This was the main reason why we returned to work with him again, and without doubt we’ll be working with him again in the future!

– After releasing ‘Scarlett’, what are your next steps? What can we expect from Matadors in the nearest future?

Ollie: Well firstly we’re moving to Nottingham in October to continue with our studies and lay down some roots in another part of the UK, from there it’ll be continue to write our debut album and tour like mad!

Luke: We’re moving our location up to Nottingham in September! This is due to University etc. Once we’re settled in up there, we’ll be releasing new material, playing loads more shows and hopefully a bit of touring! A new city gives us the chance to release our material onto people who potentially haven’t heard us before!

– What are the main traits of Matadors that make you stand out among other bands, as you see it?

Ollie: We try to combine a number of elements when writing and forming a song that we feel make our sound. We love to have a well formed “80’s feel” Chord progression of complimenting Major and Minor chords floating over a punchy bassline which carries the verse. Sam always ensures the lyrics are poetic and provoke thought from the listener. Our choruses of late tend to be rather the opposite, recently we’re tending too counteract this with a punchy memorable but simple chorus vocal and lead guitar melody. We feel that having all these trates together shows we’re able to show our musicianship off whilst still appealing to anyone whose loves a catchy chorus!

Luke: If there’s one thing that I think we’re good at as a band, it’s writing catchy choruses! We often think to ourselves that it’s quite cheesy, but I’ve got to admit, we love it!

– What do you consider to be the biggest achievements of Matadors since the band was set up? 

Ollie: I think working with some amazingly talented people in the relatively short space of time we’ve been together is a great achievement, having people like Tom Leishmann (McFly, Maroon 5) Samuel Bradley (Canterbury, Viva Brother) and of course Ant West (Lead Singer of Futures) all wanting to work with us is a great reward for all the hard work we put in!

Luke: We’ve had the opportunity to work with some really talented people! There’s Ant obviously, and also photographers such as Samuel Bradley and Tom Leishman, who has just come off tour with McFly doing their tour photos! Some of the bands earlier stuff was produced by Andy Theakston who is the drummer from Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly! which is pretty cool too!

– While performing live, what’s the most important thing for you? How do you make your live shows special?

Luke: We try to replicate the sound heard on the recordings, but at the same time make it a great experience for anyone who’s in the room! It doesn’t matter if there’s 100 people there, or 10!

– In general, how did you turn to music and realise you wanted to be a musician?

Luke: I’ve been playing drums since I was 9, and played in bands since I was 14. I’ve always wanted to play at a higher level and through Matadors I’ve been able to be a part of some really cool things!

– You’ve got some really awesome music influences. And which album is your personal life changing record, a special favourite? How has it influenced you?

Ollie: For me personally there are three people in particular that have shaped my musical tastes, Noel Gallagher, Alex Turner and Kele Okereke. The first bands I really got into were Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys, largely through Sam’s influence, the album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ really helped to shape our love of bar chords, poetic lyrics and punchy basslines. As we have matured both as people and Musicians we have found a real love for older music, bands like The Smiths, Oasis, Suede, Pulp, Echo and The Bunnymen and we have tried to use the old influences and put a modern spin on things. For me personally, I am a huge Noel Gallagher fan, I love the way he manages to take a handful of simple chords and use them in order to tell stories about how he’s feeling and about how life was in the 90’s.

Luke: I take a lot of my influences from American Pop Punk bands. I know Sam, our singer hates my music taste! If there was one band that really influenced my drumming, It’d probably be the early Mayday Parade tracks from their first album, A Lesson In Romantics. I try to keep that side of my drumming to a minimum in Matadors though; it doesn’t really suit the songs we write! At the moment I’m really into The Gaslight Anthem! Their latest album, ‘45’ is amazing! The drumming is quite simple, but it really drives the tracks along! I’m looking forward to seeing them live later this month!

– If you could choose any epoch to be a musicians in, which one would you choose and why?

Luke: Definitely the 80’s! Love those funky beats!

– Where do you see Matadors in 10 years?

Luke: Hopefully we’ll be touring, playing shows all over the country and abroad too! Got to take each step at a time though! I think we’ll start by building up our fanbase a bit more first!

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