Blesok no. 15, June-July, 2000
Interview with Matt O'Ree
А SRV Tune Just Hit Me Like а Ton of Bricks
V.I. At what age did you start playing?
Matt O'Ree: I started playing at the age of 9, quit after 2 weeks, then got serious at 13. Been playing ever since.
V.I. Which covers do you play live?
Matt O'Ree: Usually, we try to stick to our originals, but we do like to rock out to covers like:
– Little Wing, Voodoo Chile, Who Knows, Them Changes, 3rd Stone From the Sun (Hendrix)
– Mary Had a Little Lamb, Leave My Girl Alone, Empty Arms (SRV)
– Born Under A Bad Sign, Cross Cut Saw (Albert King)
– Thrill is Gone, Please Love Me, Baby Get Lost, Everyday I have the Blues (BB King)
… just to name a few.
V.I. When did you realize that blues is your means of expression?
Matt O'Ree: One day, I was messin around about the age of 15 learning a SRV tune, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. It's hard to explain but it just fit. Other styles that I was learning at the time always seemed like a forced effort on my part, but blues just seemed to flow.
V.I. What has turned you on to blues which is not so profitable after all, beside some other more commerial musical genres dominating current scene?
Matt O'Ree: Like I said, blues just fit with my soul. I didn't pick it for a career move. I didn't even care about that aspect of the business, all I know is that it feels right, so that's what I live on. I guess you could say that it picked me. Talent always rises in the end, no matter which genre your in.
V.I. Which guitars do you prefer, how many do you have and what's your basic stage/studio equipment?
Matt O'Ree: I prefer Fender Stratocasters for electrics and Martin's for Accoustics. I mainly use my 1961 Strat and my 1963 Martin D-18. I have around 13-14 guitars right now, mainly assorted axes, a bunch of strats, other accoustics including a 12 string and a classical and a lap steel. My stage setup is the same as the studio which goes like this:
My guitar goes through my pedal board (custom made from scratch by me) consisting of a '67 Vox Wah, '69 Univibe, Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, 70's Tychobrahe Octavia, and a TS-808 Tubescreamer. The signal is then split 3 ways, one goes to a '66 Black face Fender Super Reverb, a 1969 Super Lead Marshall half stack, and a 60's Leslie organ speaker cabinet. Ocasionally I'll through in an Echo-plex tape echo machine for more fun.
V.I. Who were you main blues or other influences when you started out as a musician?
Matt O'Ree: Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, BB King, Eric Clapton, SRV.
V.I. What musical background do you have, any family tradition in music?
Matt O'Ree: My whole family played the guitar at one time, that was a big influence growing up as you can imagine. Having older siblings always helps with music because they are the ones who come home with the records and make them available.
V.I. What would you conside as your best achievement at this stage of your career?
Matt O'Ree: I'd have to say this next record that I am working on. It's my best work to date, couldn't be happier with it.
V.I. You've played or shared stage with well known blues people, can you name some and what were your experiences regarding that?
Matt O'Ree: I was playing this gig one night and we were having a rough time with technical difficulties, when in walks a promoter friend of mine with Buddy Miles!. I was stunned. We invited him up to play, and let's just say we brought the roof down on that mother! It was really awesome playing Them Changes with the man who played drums with Jimi.
The Les Paul party was a real treat also. I got to play with his
band, Arlen Roth, meet Jeff Beck, Al DiMeola, Billy Squire. It was something else shaking hands with the man whole re-difined the elеctric guitar!
V.I. There is a certain band sound which listeners connect you with Stevie Ray Vaughan, can you elaborate on that?
Matt O'Ree: He was a big infulence on me, as far as technique, sound, gear. He was truly one the rare greats alive while I was growing up.
V.I. Is the area where you come from good for blues, are there blues clubs, bands and fans to support it in general?
Matt O'Ree: Where ever I am, I always seem to find blues lovers, it definitely is a universal style. They are some blues clubs here, not enough though. Many other clubs will taylor to it because rock can also fit in that genre, but it is tough. I am just managing to make some break throughs here lately. There are a number of blues bands around but I can honestly say that most of them just don't get it.
V.I. Which records do you listen to in your spare time?
Matt O'Ree: I often find myself listening to: Axis: Bold as Love from Hendrix, How Blue Can you Get? from BB King, Avia Musicom from Eric Johnson, Blue Train from John Coletrane, and Bridge of Sighs from Robin Trower.
V.I. How do you choose which covers to include in you act?
Matt O'Ree: Usually it's something that really catches my ear, or something that's fun or really challenging to play. Either way, it's usually something that pleases me first so I can then turn other on to it.
V.I. Your comment on current blues scene.
Matt O'Ree: It's growing all the time, but probably will never hit main stream. That's probably good for the reason of big business slamming it down everyone's throat, then in 10 years, nobody likes it anymore. There are enough of us right now that it will never die.
V.I. How do you feel about the phenomenon of teenagers becoming the most commercially successful artists in what mainstream considers to be blues field?
Matt O'Ree: I am happy for them that they are hitting off their careers early, but at the same time, blues is the essience of living life, experience everything, then sing and play about it. I find that kind of hard to swallow coming from a youngster, don't you?
V.I. Any plans to play in Europe? Macedonia maybe?
Matt O'Ree: I hope so. Right now we are shopping for a record label. With any luck, we can hook up with someone that can front a tour so we can promote ourselves all over the world.
Matt O'Ree and the Blues Hounds: “88 Miles” (excerpts):