Five-times nominated artist in the US Independent Blues Awards, twice for this first album, Blue Skies and three times for the follow up, Sidewinder, Matty T Wall is currently riding a wave of success. Add to the albums and the nominations a full roster of gigging across Perth, WA and beyond, and Wall becomes an artist you just have to learn more about. So, Around The Sound spoke to him.
Wall is an artist ready made for the US and worldwide markets. He’s got the playing and song writing capability, but he’s also got a voice that delivers all the heart and soul of the blues…. Expect to see Wall making it on the world stage very soon.
We started out trying to get under the skin of the artist, asking him about the words from the title track to Sidewinder:
I’d love to be your best friend / And I’d love to bleed you dry / Just give me a try, baby / Just give me a try.
Around The Sound wondered in what way the lyric might reflect Wall as an artist, particularly as a modern bluesman.
“When I play the song live, I preface it with the comment that I’m singing the song in the first person, but I wrote it about dishonest politicians. So, it’s not about me (laughs). That’s funny saying that. It’s really about getting into the character, which I don’t do often in songs, but I love it when I do.”
But we dug deeper, anyway, because everything an artist creates is, in some way, about themselves.
“That’s interesting. I don’t know how that correlates to myself. Maybe because I’ve seen that the music industry can be a tough mistress and can really take you to the end of the road, financially, emotionally, the whole bit. It’s very demanding. The music industry, there’s no rules. It’s very tough.”
Wall’s certainly got that right. The music industry has bled many an artist dry over the years and Wall is all too aware of its pitfalls, having been in, then out, and now back in its clutches.
“I was in a band when I was a lot younger, playing parties and supporting bands like Allegiance and stuff like that, many years ago. In the band was Matt Chequer, he was the drummer from Little Birdy; Fergus Deasy, he was playing guitar with Eskimo Joe… They went on to do music mostly full time. I left the music scene and ended up getting into business. I set the goal for myself that I wanted to set my business up and get myself in a better position to invest in my music. I always knew that music was there for me, and I loved it and I could do it, and it was always going to be something that I would come back to. But I just wanted to put myself in a position where I could have a family and do the music industry thing. It’s very tricky (laughs)!”
Yep. ‘Tricky’ is another word for it, but there’s an aura of steely determination that Wall carries with him that makes you think that he’s definitely got what it takes to make it. Although, it wasn’t always that way.
“I can fall in the trap, sometimes, of trying to compare myself to other people, which is not a good thing in an artistic industry. I can look at other people that I knew when I was younger, and I want to catch up. But it doesn’t really work like that. I’ve just got to be patient.
“Things are starting to happen now and I’m just trying to take them as they come. I know that, if I continue to keep working at it, things will continue to keep happening, whatever that may be. I’m getting more comfortable with the realisation that things will be what they will be. As long as I’m doing the best I can, I can live with that.”
With Wall, it’s a case of ‘the best you can is good enough’, to steal a line from another purveyor of fine music. But while there’s simplicity in Wall’s approach to making music and making it in the music biz, there’s the inevitable complexity, too.
“All I’m trying to do is write music that I really enjoy. That in itself is really tricky. I’ve been blasting Pantera in the car on 11 for the last few days; I really love that music. And, at the same time, getting ready for a Duke of George show where I’m doing the whole BB King thing and then getting into Rada studios to do a blues album, and I love that stuff as well. So, that’s been really hard for me to figure out how those two tie together without it sounding like classic rock.
I’ve been blasting Pantera in the car on 11 for the last few days; I really love that music.
“I think looking up to certain artists who point back to their influences is really important. If I compare two artists, Clapton and Led Zeppelin, Clapton would say, ‘This is a Robert Johnson song,’ he’d say that when he played it and he’d talk about Robert Johnson and he’d talk about Freddie King, and he’d get people interested in that music. Whereas Led Zeppelin played that sort of music, but as far as album credits for writing and things like that, that was not as obvious, I could say in a kind way. So, looking up to artists like Clapton saying you’ve got to look back to the past masters, or the current masters, and really look to them for inspiration. For me, that’s really important.”
These are the elements of Wall’s approach to the legacy of the blues and finding his way in that pantheon that set him apart from many of his contemporaries. He knows he’s got to pay his dues, but he’s also had this crazy ride through some of the extremes of the form that somehow gives the assurance that he’s now on the right path. Taking a break wouldn’t have hurt, either. Approaching creativity like a business can be the death of one or the other of those things – usually both. For Wall, it’s just a natural progression in a career that’s built on hard work and having a plan, curbing his impatience and just letting it ride.
One of the many things about Wall that make him stick out, a cut above even, is his approach to the vocal elements of blues music.
“Blues has to have that sound. It’s an African vocal sound mixed with that jazzy American vibe. If it doesn’t have that sound, it’s not blues. You know it when you hear it. The sound of the blues is in the vocals.
“Vocals is something that’s come to me very reluctantly. When I was younger I was in a metal band screaming away trying to sing Sepultura songs with no vocal training at all. So, I’ve done a little bit of work on that and I’m enjoying it, but it’s really challenging for me. Whereas guitar seems to come naturally, because I took it on so early.
“The vocal and the story is the important thing about the blues. The instrument is secondary. If the instrument was primary, I’d probably still be focusing on metal, prog metal, or something. But the thing that gets me about the blues is, it’s so direct as far as emotion and the feeling of the song. That’s why I do it.”
Wall is warming up the US market right now. He’s been invited to attend the American Blues Music Awards in Memphis later this year, “Not to pick up an award,” he quickly assured us, although he’s been nominated for plenty. But even getting the invite is an indication that something is brewing and, with an agent already laying the groundwork on that side of the world, we can’t help but think that the next big news we’re going to hear from Matty T Wall will be on breaking into the US market.
In many ways, Wall is an artist ready made for the US and worldwide markets. He’s got the playing and song writing capability, but he’s also got a voice that delivers all the heart and soul of the blues in a contemporary way, with the maximum possible appeal across the blues, rock and pop genres. Expect to see Wall making it on the world stage very soon.
What happens will happen. I’ll just keep chipping away at it, basically.
Ask Wall about all that and he just keeps it on the level. As he said, “What happens will happen. I’ll just keep chipping away at it, basically.”
That’s the other thing that’s going to get Wall there. He’s already knocked off any rough edges and hubris he might have had while dreaming of being a heavy metal god, taking the seemingly inevitable one step forward, two steps back approach in his early days. Now it’s only forward momentum. All he has to do is keep going, the rest will take care of itself.
Catch Matty T Wall on tour
19 July, The Ellington Jazz Club
23 July, The Perth Blues Club
28 July, The Bassendean Hotel
More info at https://www.mattytwall.com/