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Joe Matera

posted 28 Aug 2017, 11:33 by Paul Woodward

Interview by Woody

Tell us about your new EP ‘Heart Of Stone’, how the songs were written, what they are about and the creation of the EP?

All the songs on the new EP were written on acoustic guitar, as I do with most of my songs. Then in the studio, I transfer everything into an electric setting. When it comes to the music, I usually just noodle away on the guitar until something grabs my ear, it may be a riff, a melody or a chord progression. Once I have something that sounds interesting, I will work on it until it’s a complete piece of music or a song. I have loads of musical ideas lying around, as I usually record any ideas that come to me, onto my phone and then at a later date, will revisit them and see if there is something worth pursuing or not.

Lyrics are a lot harder and can take months to come together. On a rare magical occasion you may get something like “Fallen Angel” where both the music and lyrics came together quickly; it was like a gift from the Gods. That song took about 15 minutes to write!

With the title track “Heart Of Stone”, it was a co-write between myself and a good friend of mine, Swedish musician and bass player Peter Ljungberg, - Peter plays bass on the track too. I first sent Peter some musical ideas. Later, he sent over some lyrics. Then from there, it was a matter of improving and editing until the song both musically and lyrically was right for us. It was important that any changes or revisions we made during the songwriting process, both of us had to be 100% happy with it. And we achieved that with the end result.

The two versions of the title track on the EP were both mixed by legendary Swedish producer-engineer Tomas Skogsberg, who many may know from his pioneering work with Swedish metal bands such as Entombed and also with Swedish guitar rock bands such as Backyard Babies and The Hellacopters. Tomas also co-produced the tracks with me. It was great working with Tomas, he knew instinctively what I wanted in regards to my vision and the music, so I left him to his own devices to weave his magic. He brought some great ideas to the table and worked them into what I was after musically and sonically, and the results were absolutely fantastic. It was such an honour and pleasure to work with him.

You are signed to a European label but based in Australia, do you find this poses challenges to you pushing your music to a European audience whilst living on the other side of the world?

The music industry today is a challenge in itself! With today’s technology, distance is never an issue. The internet has made the world a smaller place. You don’t need to be in the same room let alone, same country to record music with other musicians. Having a European label – in my case, RVPrecords in Netherlands – behind you certainly helps immensely with pushing the music in Europe. Though one can do it themselves quite easily these days, having the support of a label is very important in being able to get the music out there, into distribution and promoted in the best possible way. Plus, it frees the artist up from all the business side of things, to concentrate more on the music.

Is Europe your primary target for you or is Australia just as important to you?

Both are equally very important. The only difference is, Europe was the first market that I found success in before Australia. That tends to be a rite of passage with many Australian artists though. They tend to find success overseas first before finally achieving success in their own country. I have been touring Europe on a yearly basis since 2012.

Who are your musical influences and does this affect your song writing?

I have a lot of musical influences as I have always listened to a diverse range of music. Of course, everything you listen to or experience will somehow permeate its way into your songwriting, whether it’s conscious or not. My primary influences are in the rock and pop field. When it comes to my instrumental guitar stuff, it’s the classic guitar players such as Hank Marvin, Brian May and Rick Brewster – from legendary Australian band The Angels - whose solos are always melodic and tell a story. Most of their solos and guitar playing, you can hum it. It has melody. Speaking of Rick, he actually plays guitar on one of the tracks on the new release called “Live To Rock”. It’s a high-energy instrumental track that features Rick playing a blistering guitar slide solo and some very cool riffing. Rick has also played on two of my previous tracks as well, “No Way!” from my 2012 album ‘Creature Of Habit’ and “Face Off” from my solo debut EP ‘Slave To The Fingers’ which came out in 2011.

As to songwriting influences, they range from Gerry Rafferty to Bryan Adams to Chapman and Chinn, the classic songwriting duo from the 1970s who wrote numerous hits for bands such as The Sweet, Smokie, Racey, Suzi Quatro and many others. I always am a sucker for a good catchy tune, and I spend a lot of time making sure my songs have a strong melody, a good rhythm, substance and most importantly, a good hook.

I really enjoyed the live acoustic tracks on the ‘Heart Of Stone’ EP, where were they recorded and do you enjoy performing live acoustically?

Thank you, glad you enjoyed them. They were recorded live in front an audience at Abbey Tavern in Camden, London during my ‘Terra Firma European Tour’ in May of 2014. Those tracks were actually released earlier this year on cassette! I did a special limited edition, hand numbered small cassette run for this year’s Record Store Day back in April, as something special for my diehard fans, and sold out of the pressing very quickly. Many fans who bought the cassette, told me they would love for these tracks to be available on CD and in a general format, so others could enjoy them too, so I decided to do just that by adding them to this EP release.

I enjoy performing solo and acoustically when it comes to the live environment. I prefer this more so than performing with a backing band behind me. What influenced my decision to go all acoustic live happened in 2012. I played guitar for English singer-songwriter Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel fame) on his Australian promo tour. We did a bunch of acoustic live sessions together for media and the like, and I really enjoyed the striped down acoustic format. The songs breathed, spoke more intimately with the audience and had a great energy that was totally different to a band setting. And since I wrote all my songs on the acoustic guitar, it was a no brainer! I had done the live band thing for many, many years, and was getting tired of it all, especially with the inherent inner band politics and dramas, so a change was in the air. So now, it is nice to just go out alone, singing and playing your heart out and connecting with the audience with nothing but your voice, acoustic guitar and songs.

Would you write and record an album purely in an acoustic format?

Absolutely, in fact that is what I plan to do for the next album. I already have many of the songs written and I have been performing them live. It is also a good way to road test them in front of an audience and gauge their responses before recording them.

You have recorded and released a few EP’s in recent times, what next for you, a full album?

I released an EP in 2011 and then followed this by releasing three studio albums – ‘Creature Of Habit’ (2012), ‘Terra Firma’ (2014) and ‘Louder Than Words’ (2016) respectively – and now this new EP, so a full album is next on the agenda for sure. I need to mention, ‘Heart Of Stone’ has an album’s worth of material, but because it has a mixture of different stuff, from live material, new studio stuff and some previously released material, I didn’t want it released as an album, thus why it is an EP.

Are there any musicians you’d love to work with in the future?

That is a hard question, as there are so many great musicians and artists out there, to pick any specific one would not be fair. Because ‘Heart Of Stone’ was such an enjoyable experience collaborating with Peter and working with Tomas, I am definitely looking at doing further collaborations in future. I am open to working with any musician in whatever form, whether that is as co-songwriter or as a guitar player. In fact, any artist or musician, reading this interview, they are welcome to contact me with any expressions of interest.

Do you have any upcoming live shows planned in Europe especially here in the UK?

I will be embarking on a Swedish tour in late October in support of my new EP. It will be my first time in Sweden. Because I’ve toured regularly in recent years in such countries as Germany, Netherlands and Austria, I am giving those places a miss this time round on this tour to focus on some new territories such as Sweden. I will be in the UK though before the start of the tour, but not for any shows, only for some promo activities. I last toured the UK in 2012 and did a bunch of shows there, had a great time, so it has been awhile. I am hoping to get back there with some actual shows on the next tour.

Is there anything else you would like to say or add?

Just to thank you for the interview and a big heartfelt thank you to all my fans and supporters across the globe. And for those that want to check out my music further, please visit my official website: I am also very active on social media such as Facebook, so any new fans, feel free to connect with me via Facebook. See you on the road!

Photo Credit - Top right - Sofia Rewert-Strasser

Photo Credit - Bottom left - Ros O'Gorman