The latest “15 questions” feature is with guitarist Joe Matera.
Australian guitarist Joe Matera is no slouch on the fretboard. With a new EP and an ever growing international reputation, Guitar Jar catches up with Joe and quizzes him on his technique, guitar equipment and goals for the next 12 months.
…I’ve played numerous different types of pedals over the years, but I’ve always come back to my trusty Boss pedals…
- Hi Joe, can you give Guitar Jar readers an insight to why you first picked up the guitar and how long you’ve been playing?
I picked up the guitar at age 15 back in 1981, so that’s 30 years ago now! I remember always having music around my house and I used to spend countless hours listening to my parents’ vinyl collection from a very young age.
Aside from the music of the day that was usually heard on the radio, my mother would also buy the latest Italian chart hits of the day from a local import record store. Then one day, I happened to be watching television and KISS came on, and I sat there, absolutely mesmerized by Ace Frehley’s playing and stage presence, particularly with his flashing light show emanating from his Les Paul.
He seemed larger than life, and I realized that’s what I wanted to do as well. My fate as guitarist was sealed.
- In the first few years in learning the instrument, which guitarist(s) were you influenced by the most and why?
In my early years, it was mainly guys like Ace Frehley, Rick Nielsen, Hank Marvin (The Shadows) Mark Knopfler and Tom Scholtz (Boston). These players influenced me because their solos and playing was first and foremost, highly melodic to their core. And with guys like Ace and Rick, there was also the added bonus of having a highly energetic component thrown into the mix.
- You’ve recently signed a recording deal with W.A.R Productions. How did they come across your talent?
The label first came across my playing after Alex Wieser the head of W.A.R Productions heard my guest guitar solo on Atomkraft’s cover of Cold Sweat, which his label put out.
Alex first made direct contact with me by purchasing a copy of my single Face Off. He loved my playing on that track so much that he asked if I had other material he could listen to. So I sent him a bunch of stuff and he really loved it too, and asked me what my plans were for the future and I mentioned to him I was working on new material for a proposed EP.
After further conversations, he then offered me a deal to release it through his label.
- You’ve just released a new EP “Slave to the Fingers”. Do you enjoy recording and what do you find is the most challenging aspect of the recording process?
Yes, I do enjoy recording. It is something that allows me the freedom to create my own music in the way I envisage it. I’ve spent a long time learning as much as I can about the craft of recording, and am still learning.
It is an ongoing process really, as one can never learn everything. It’s one life long learning curve. The challenging part is trying to be objective, since I’m wearing so many hats, that of artist, of engineer and of producer, it is hard at times to separate one self from own project and take an objective view. You can easily fall into the habit of trying to perfect something so much or add so much detail to the point that the original idea gets completely lost or off track. But I take a real discipline approach to this.
Usually the first people to hear my initial music ideas are Tony Dolan and James Strickler since they’re the ones who need to hear the demos in order to add their respective drum and bass parts. And once I have finished a demo, I will usually test it out on my wife who is a music fan. The theory is, if my wife Liz likes it, then the general music listening audience, will too.
- Can you tell our readers of your current live rig setup?
I used a signature model Haywire Joe Matera guitar, which was custom built for me by U.S guitar maker Rick Mariner of Haywire guitars. For backup, I have a Fender Deluxe HSS Strat. Amp wise, I currently plug into a Laney LV200 65 watt combo amp. Effects, it is mainly a Boss OS-2, a Boss CH-1, and a Boss DD-3. I’ve played numerous different types of pedals over the years, but I’ve always come back to my trusty Boss pedals as they have never let me down in any live situation (or the studio for that matter).
- What do you recommend to players to help them progress if they’re “stuck in a rut”?
What has always helped me get out of a rut is to listen to something other than my normal taste in music.
One method I used early on was to listen to a bunch of Steely Dan albums, listening to those amazing guitarists they had on those records, always inspired me to improve or approach an idea differently. When I applied that approach to my own “rock” tastes, it would open up some many new opportunities creatively. Another would be to tackle a different technique.
I came up with a unique self-styled two-finger picking technique after listening to a bunch of Jimmy Page’s acoustic stuff he did on those early Led Zep records. Out of that came the inspiration for me to write ‘Travellin’ West’ an acoustic track I recorded and released last year which became my debut solo outing.
…listening to those amazing guitarists they had on those records, always inspired me to improve or approach an idea differently…
- In my mind, you have a “Classic Rock” tone going on. Does that phrase annoy you or are you happy to be associated with a particular genre?
No it doesn’t annoy me. It is a compliment and I am happy to be associated with that genre. I grew up in that era of classic rock and as a large portion of my influences are classic rock guitarists, it is naturally going to influence my tone and sound.
Having said that, I also feel my music is not retro, it has a fresh contemporary feel to it, so though its rooted in a classic rock tone, it is driven by a forward thinking, contemporary spirit.
- Your house is burning down. What’s the one guitar item you would save?
Does it have to be one? I would grab my Haywire guitar first, but I also have a nice blue Aria Pro II guitar that has been part of my collection for many years now. It’s the guitar I used a lot in my earlier bands so has a lot of history and memories behind it.
- A DeLorean time machine has just burst onto your front lawn. With your hover-board in hand, you’re ready climb in and hit 88mph. Will you go to the past or the future and why?
Although I’m one who always looks forward and never back, and though it would be tempting to go forward years into the future, if given the chance I would go back to the 1970s, to the time when rock stars were larger than life, and a decade that sound tracked my childhood years.
But I would go back with the knowledge gained so far, and try and do some things differently. Though I suppose doing that may also cause my present situation to alter, since who we who we are today due to all our past experiences.
- Have you had any nightmare experiences whilst gigging?
Yes, there’s been a few. A couple that come to mind are… with hours to go before a gig, getting a message from my band’s singer that he is quitting the band and now! Spending the next few hours frantically trying to find a fill-in for the show to go ahead and at the eleventh hour finding one and the first time meeting him is as he walks onstage. Another would be going for a big solo, all eyes on me and suddenly my amp, or should I say my wireless system, decides to die a quick death.
- Are you working on any new material?
Yes, I always working on some kind of new material, but at present I have a couple new demos of new instrumentals I’m working on. I am also co-writing and recording material for a new vocal rock album, that’s a collaboration between myself and Rich Davenport, the singer/guitarist with metal band See Red.
This new project will be under the moniker of Davenport/Matera and the album will be released by W.A.R Productions sometime late 2012.
- What’s your opinion on music downloading? Are free/donation based downloads the way forward?
I think there is a fine line between giving away something that you have put your heart and soul into, and de-valuing one’s worth as a musician and artist.
The trouble with giving away music is it eventually reaches a point where people will give no value to it, and it becomes purely a commodity of entertainment worth rather than art. Music like all creative arts, is something that is vital to human existence, I mean imagine life without music? It would be intolerable. I think the donation concept is a good one, but again, it really comes down to an individual’s preference. Each to their own, I say.
One has to work out what works best for them and their music, their art. Money is another form of a value system so purchasing something is to put a value on someone’s art and what its worth. Giving it away really, has no value aside from its promotional benefits.
- If you could form a super group using famous musicians past or present, who would you have on drums and why?
On drums it would be John Bonham, on bass I’d Paul McCartney, on keyboards I’ll have Rick Wakeman, on vocals it would be Brad Delp and on guitar I would have myself (obviously) as well as Slash.
- What’s the plan for you musically for the next 12 months?
For the foreseeable future it is promoting my new release and doing the occasional acoustic promo set behind the release.
2012 is looking to get busier for me. I am in the planning stages of possibly doing some shows with a band behind me so I can play all the material on Slave To The Fingers and others and aside from the live shows, there is more writing and recording happening with the Davenport/Matera project hopefully out by end of next year, and hopefully a full blown instrumental album from myself as well.
I’ve also got a couple of guest guitar spots slated too so they’ll be out in future as well.
- And finally, Lager or Cider?
I am not really a lager drinker, I am more a Jack Daniels man, so since it is between lager and cider, I’ll go with the cider.
For more information about Joe’s music, visit: