Time to introduce you folks to another Expert Fan I met on the LA music circuit! This one is not only a fan, but a musician and works in the music industry as well! Meet Matt Linsky.
I met Matt probably about a year ago via another friend of mine Todd Bergman. Once I knew him, I noticed how much he was out and about on the scene as well. He is an avid supporter of a wide variety of local musicians, and someone that when he loves your band, will tell anyone and everyone about you. I enjoy talking music with him because not only does he provide the fan side of discussing music/a show, but he also provides more technical insight and notices things that fans who aren’t musicians wouldn’t notice about a band’s live show.
Matt works with another Expert Fan we’ve profiled, the radical John Anderson, at Hunnypot Unlimited, a music publishing company. He works hard to provide bands he loves with any opportunities he can and is another great example of an Expert Fan. So without further ado, meet Matt Linsky.
Hometown: Tampa, Florida.
Why did you move to LA?
No comment. Well, you know what? I was in Business School in New Orleans studying legal studies in Business and I just felt unfulfilled. I imagined my life where, let’s say the perfect life where you do that. You go to Law School, you become a Corporate Litigator, yadda, yadda, yadda. You make a shit ton of money, then you’re 55 in this beautiful house with a beautiful wife and “Oh my God, how did I get here?”
You look at a picture of yourself from when you were like 20 years old and you think, “Man. I could have been something cool. I could have been something that I am proud of.” I kind of had this existential thing saying “I am going to go and do something different” so I decided to play guitar in bands.
How long have you been playing guitar?
I started playing when I was, well, I guess it’s been 12 years now. When I was 14, my best friend was a Guitar Prodigy. I remember when we became friends for the first time; this is a funny story. We’re talking on the phone and I am on the porcelain throne and he goes, “I just learned the solo to Crazy Train.”
I go, “No you didn’t.” Then he played it over the phone and I guess I literally shit myself while he’s doing that. It just hit me like, “I’m going to learn to do that.” My Dad gave me an acoustic guitar of his.
He played folk songs like, “If I Had A Hammer” when I was a little kid, and all that stuff. I started teaching myself and I realized I wanted to play a band with my friend so I picked up bass. We were in a Misfits cover band called The Deadlights. That was the first band I was in in 7th grade. I was a little punk kid.
Who were your favorite bands growing up?
You know, it is weird. I went through phase after phase after phase and still do. You just go down the rabbit hole and you connect with it and you find what it means to you and you move on. The first songs that really meant something to me were on the 1994 Grammy Soundtrack and the Space Jam Soundtrack. Oh, and “Intergalactic” by Beastie Boys. Jewish music also had a big impact.
When I was a little kid I could sing. I was like Castrato. They used to joke like, “If you were in Austria in the 16th Century, we’d cut off your balls.” I would sing in the Synagogue during High Holidays. I was a soloist in a choir that went around the world when I was 12. Then when I hit puberty it all went away. Which I think contributes to the reason why I picked up guitar because I didn’t have an outlet anymore. I never even tried to sing when I was a little kid, I just did it. It’s weird to have that. To have something and have it taken away, I guess that’s what it feels like to grow old in a way.
Then, I went through a big Rap phase. I remember at my Bar Mitzvah I made sure that “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect was played. I had this CD of old school classics. I had “Slam” by Onyx on it and of course “Bust A Move” and “Can’t Touch This,” but I really liked “Rump Shaker”. I liked the “Check baby, check baby, 1, 2, 3, 4, baby check, baby 1, 2, 3.”
Then The Marshall Mathers LP was really big for me. Especially the title, Marshall Mathers. That song for some reason, I had a lot of anger. That song really got it out there. However, the biggest song of that Rap phase for me was B.O.B. by OutKast. It was the first time where, you listen to that intro and the way they just bust through the fucking door, you know what I mean? You have the twinkles going on and they’re 1, 2, they’re counting it up and then they’re just, “In-slum-national, underground thunder pounds when I stomp the ground!” I would listen to that and I’d listen to the first riffs and I’d just rewind it to the beginning, just to hear that moment again.
Then when I got to the guitar phase, Randy Rhoads was the first the first guy, the Ozzy guitarist. I discovered all the classics, Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers. All that stuff. Then I eventually found my way to Blues, and Stevie Ray Vaughan was my guy. Then on to Jazz and instrumental stuff. Jeff Beck, Oznoy, he’s this guitarist out of Israel that I love. Scott Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Jaco Pastorius. Music, like anything else, you exercise these muscles and you get familiar with the sound.
I read this study where they do a CAT scan of a person’s brain when they are listening to music and seeing when the synapses light up, when the dopamine is released. Really it’s a guessing game. They found that people enjoy music most when they are right about the next thing they are going to hear 70% of the time.
Just enough to confirm that you know what is going on, that you are adept, but not enough to make you bored. Which is why Pop is so popular. Because to the layman, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to go next but once you get into breaking down song form, you really study music, it becomes completely predictable.
I don’t want to toot my horn here, but I can hear a song for the first time and as soon as I get the vibe I know exactly what’s going to happen next. I know when it’s going to go to the chorus, when it’s going to go to the bridge, when it goes to the end but when I am surprised, that’s when I’m happy.
Especially if it is something that’s tasteful that I think, “Man, I wish I would have thought of that. I wish I saw that coming.” Now, after working with John for two and a half years, my tastes have really widened to be more accepting of all genres and to kind of judge quality for quality instead of what my personal tastes are.
They are still there, don’t get me wrong but I guess now it doesn’t matter what genre it is. It doesn’t matter what the message is. If it moves me, if it makes me feel something that I wasn’t feeling before, it’s a goddamn good song.
How did you meet John Anderson? When did you start working with Hunnypot?
I was playing in a bunch of bands and I had to have a Plan B. The best gig I ever had, I was in Vegas every week doing covers and it paid well. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever and I started to ask our manager about internships.
She had another band called Warner Drive that played through Hunnypot and at the time said, “You should get with John Anderson.” so I did. I just started going to the radio show and wrapping cables and doing bitch work.
As time went on I had this experience where I got to play for a Billboard number one artist. Not a big one but still, in my mind I had built up like, “This is it. I’ve got this now.” I meet her and find out her situation, which she is getting shelved by EMI and she can’t pay me very much. I’m thinking, “This was supposed to be mine,” you know?
Then right after that, I got this audition with this big pop producer. I thought, “This is going to be it.” I get to the first rehearsal and everything is a backing track, everything is fake. I am playing chords and this boring stuff. I hated it but in my mind I built up such another big, “This is going to be the one for me.” That fell apart as well. He ended up cutting the whole band for a DJ and background dancers. Whatever. After that, this is the one I am most proud of. I got to score a session with Rick Fierabracci and Derek Sherinian, monster musicians who I worship. I realized that, if I practice 10 hours a day and keep at it, there is a really strong chance I’ll never be that good. I am just not that naturally talented. I had to be honest with myself. Then I decided I’m going to see what I can do on the business side. I felt like I had a mind for it.
I went to John and I said “Teach me everything.” I started booking the venue and I started signing the bands and pitching the catalog, and now I have a really good sense of at least how Hunnypot works. What our role is within the industry and also what’s happening within the industry as a moving unit. Just like the universe is always expanding, the industry is always changing.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
King Washington. They are great every single time but they played this show at the House of Blues in Anaheim. It was the biggest stage I’ve ever seen them on and it’s like, they always sound great enclosed but it just seemed like they were made for the big stage. The sound was impeccable, they had professional level everything going on. I was in awe.
I’ll give you another one that isn’t a band I work with. I’d say Gogol Bordello. Gogol Bordello I saw in New Orleans when I was a Freshman in college. I had a broken elbow and I’m in this robot arm thing. I am in sandals and my buddy is like, “You’ve got to see these guys.” I was like, “Cool.” I’m wearing sandals, I didn’t realize it would be a mosh pit and I’m in a sling but we might have taken a painkiller or two. Before I knew it, I’m moshing around. They had this tiny luchadore in a mask throwing water on the crowd. Eugene Hutz is just stomping around like a European crazy Tom Waits, like Snidely fucking Whiplash. That was an incredible experience where I just had so much fun and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When you go to a live show, say a band you don’t know, what makes that show awesome for you?
I want to be moved. I want to not have to try to listen. I just want the music to take me. I want to be raped by it. I just want the music to force itself on me and have its way and for me to be like, “No, stop. Okay no, don’t stop.” What I’m looking for is an emotional experience. Because, what is art if not something to make you feel different than you did the moment before? I feel like any kind of art, whether it’s music or a painting or a video game or what have you is just a representation of the human condition in a single moment. The more intense that is for me, the more I appreciate the experience.
I want to see pieces of myself, of my life, of the people I know in the music I hear. Here’s a great way to put it. I want to have the music grip me so much where I stop actively listening and start thinking about things that have happened. Whether it’s an exciting thing or a regretful thing or anything. I just want to be a part of that.
I’ve been to shows with you, and I know how technical you can get. Do you just have to turn that off or for you is that part of it?
No, basically the music turns it off. If it’s going, and if I am being technical, that means the music is not gripping me. I am trying to force it if I am like, “Okay, the bridge is going to hit in 2 bars and so and so missed that note there.” Being a dick, basically. I can be a dick at shows, in my head and sometimes out of my mouth.
The Satellite and The Mint. Those are the two that I frequent the most. I’ve got much love for them but when it comes to the overall club, the best one in LA, it’s got to be The Troubadour. Just the placement of everything. I love the stage in the middle of the room that’s risen just high enough, but not too high. I love that they have an upstairs area. I love that there is little nooks and crannies you can go, but I will say this about The Satellite, I love the plexiglass right there. I can escape. It’s great. Overall, not judging the quality of acts they bring in. Where I would want to go to see a show, it depends on the band. It depends on their sound.
If it’s a Funk band or an R&B band, it would definitely be The Mint. If it’s a straight up Indie Rock band or something that is Alternative and crazy, I’d take the Satellite over The Echo, The Echoplex and The Bootleg. I don’t know why, I just would. If it is a Rock band or any kind of band that is going to get loud, I want to see it at The Troubadour.
If you could book a dream line-up with five bands who would it be?
I mean, Zeppelin. I’ve got to see Zeppelin live. I want to see Jaco and Weather Report. Jaco and Weather Report with Wayne Shorter when they were in their heyday. That would just be like, a wank-off between horn sections and all that stuff. If they had Scofield on guitar, that would be the jam. I am trying to space it out between genres too. I want to see Tom Waits because when he was like, really committed to the character he was playing, that was what was so impressive about what he was doing. He was just this lunatic and he knew he was being a lunatic but he couldn’t stop himself. It was impossible. Who else? Damn. I should have this locked and loaded, right?
All right, Zeppelin. Weather Report with Jaco and who was the third one? Tom Waits in his heyday. Hm, I need a Rap group. I want to see a Rap battle. A Rap battle between Big L and Big Daddy Kane. I like lyricists and all that stuff. They are punchline guys, they’re smooth. Then, what genre haven’t I really hit yet? Who is the cheesy Pop group I want to see?
I’m not one for pageantry. You know what would be nice is Dire Straits. I want to see Dire Straits in like ’77. That would be cool. Before Knopfler switched to an Ibanez. In between the first album and the second album. They were playing songs from the first album, Communique, that’s the set I want to see. So, Dire Straits is my fifth one.
Who are you listening to right now?
There’s a bunch of new stuff coming out, I would say A House For Lions is one of the best kind of unknown bands around LA right now. They’ve been going at it hard, and they just released their first LP. As far as other new music, Hobart W Fink, they are putting out a new record.
There’s this band out of Canada called July Talk which I like a whole bunch. They just signed with Island Records. They have such contrast between their vocal styles and they are able to blend it together. Not entirely seamlessly, but that’s kind of the point. It’s really cool.
Then you know, The Janks and King Washington, if I had to choose local bands. Any two to see live on a given night, it would be The Janks and King Washington because they always slay it and they are always incredibly entertaining. They’re just incredibly good musicians.
What advice would you give bands?
Oh, man. Do I be a cynic or a dick now?
Jo: Whatever you choose to. If a band came to you and said, “Matt, what should we be doing right now?”
You know, if they are sitting right in front of me, it’s a different story. Now that they are not in front of me, I want to say, “If you suck then quit. Because you are taking up someone else’s space, someone who could actually be making a difference.”
That really gets under my skin. I know everyone thinks they are special. Everyone is special, but you know, if you suck then you should fucking quit and find what you are good at. Find what you are great at and do that.
To the bands that have it, and know they have it, the industry is not fair, it never will be fair. The only chance you have is to work your ass off. If you don’t have a famous last name, if you are not someone’s son or nephew and you don’t have the hookup, you are going to have to grind. You are going to have to tour and you are going to have to sell merch.
That is the most important piece of advice I can give to any band that is starting out that has some good shit is, sell merch because that’s where you are going to make your money. Not just now, but for the long run too. That is worth more to you than your recordings.
You have to have the recordings, don’t get me wrong, but sell merch like motherfuckers. You are more than just musicians, you are entertainers. You need to be on your game when you are offstage.
I guess, if you suck, quit. If you’re good, it’s going to be really fucking hard and sell lots of merch. If you do that, you have got a shot.
Find Matt here: