Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece includes a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
No, he’s not Gary. None of them are.
Brian Matteson, a native of Whitewater and the youngest of six siblings, plays drums and sings for Gary the Band, a trio he performs in alongside friends Marques Johnson and Josh Calhoun.
After graduating from high school and completing one year of college pursuing an art degree, Matteson decided to venture out west in search of musical opportunities. Spending five years in his 20s in the Los Angeles area, he had the opportunity to play several shows, tour, record and win a “fastest hands” drumming competition.
While he enjoyed his time in California, Matteson ultimately decided the Midwest was a better home base for his musical ventures. When he’s not performing with his “Gary” bandmates, he works fulltime performing, writing, recording and teaching music.
To learn more about Matteson and Gary the Band, visit GaryTheBand.com or search for “Gary the Band” on Facebook.
1. Your band’s name is ... original. What is its origin? Marques and I were listening to a podcast, and they were talking about cool one-name musical artists such as Prince, Madonna, Morrissey, etc. The comment was made,”Did you ever notice it’s always a cool name or a last name? It’s never a person’s first name. Nobody would name their band ‘Gary.’” So, we took it as a personal challenge to be those guys.
2. Tell me a little about the band members’ musical backgrounds. I am a self-taught musician. I started on guitar and eventually picked up drums. It took me a long time before I felt confident as a singer. Marques and Josh come from more musical families and have been playing since childhood, with Marques starting on guitar and Josh on drums. I think singing was the last thing they thought they’d be doing, as well.
3. What did you eat for supper last night? Pasta, because you can’t always eat salad.
4. What was your first job? Worst job? When I was a kid, my parents had a lawn care business, and that was my first paying job. The worst job I’ve ever had was probably working for a different lawn care company when I was about 19 (not the one owned by my parents). The boss was a jerk; the timetables were very tight; the pay was $6 an hour, and I remember using an edging tool that was comically short on a seemingly endless stretch of sidewalk. I did that for a day before I decided to go back to Walmart for $6.25 an hour working in air conditioning.
5. What separates a Gary the Band show from those of other bands? Probably the fact that we can play quietly if need be. We aren’t the kind of band that demands to be heard, but we aim to make you happy you decided to listen.
6. What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? One day, when I was a child, my dad’s truck was parked on a hill by a lake. My dad asked us to get in the truck since we were about to leave. Two of my brothers climbed in, and I was the last one in. I put my hand on the gear shifter for balance, not even knowing what it did, and the truck started rolling down a very steep hill. Luckily, we hit a tree at a fairly low speed that stopped the vehicle. Luckily, the only casualty was a dented tailgate.
7. How long has the band been together, and has there ever been a time when you guys considered disbanding? The band has been together for about six years now. We’ve never considered disbanding, but as of October, one of our founding band members, Jordan Story, decided to leave the group to pursue other interests. Marques and I are still going strong, and we’ve added Josh Calhoun (formerly of the band Citizen Way) to the lineup. We are honored to have him as part of the band.
8. What are your day jobs? We are all full-time musicians. Other than playing in the band, we give lessons, take on recording/producing projects, and Josh is the creative arts director at Central Christian Church in Beloit.
9. Does the band write its own music, or does it tend to play covers? The band was working on original music during the first five or so years, but it always came secondary to covers. There was a separation of covers that happened with Jordan when he was in the band due to workflow and creative differences, but we are looking forward to performing and recording original music with Josh in the near future.
10. What inspired you to become a musician? When I was in third grade, I decided I wanted to play guitar. I was a huge Aerosmith fan back then. I wanted to play like Joe Perry. Now here I am trying to sing like Steve Perry. I guess I’ve come full circle?
11. What is the one thing that goes into your cart at the grocery store whether you need it or not? I’ve dialed in my grocery store runs pretty well, but the Dole salad kits always seem to be a staple.
12. What type of music did your parents listen to when you were a child? Did that have any effect on what you enjoy now? I definitely grew up on rock. There was a lot of Metallica, Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and things like that in our house. I think I’ll always have rock music ingrained in me. It took a long time to broaden my horizons, to be honest.
13. Aside from music, what other interests do you have? Even though there is a physical element to performing, I always find myself sitting down for long periods of time as the drummer. I like to try and balance that out with physical activities that get me moving such as lifting weights, running and yoga.
14. Name a skill you wish you had. Honestly, anything practical ... knowing how cars work and how to fix them, knowing how to fix up a house. Really, anything that is useful day to day would be great.
15. What is the most difficult thing about being a musician? Probably the stereotypes and the realization that people you meet are often divided into two camps: those who see the value in what you do and those who feel like you don’t really contribute anything to society.
16. Name a popular actor/singer/artist who doesn’t appeal to you. I just heard Cardi B the other day for the first time, and it was pretty tough to find any redeeming qualities in what she was doing.
17. Name something people would be surprised to find out about you. Maybe just how much of a struggle it has been to legitimize the musical skills I have at this point. I don’t think I was all that gifted from the get-go. I just worked at it and stuck with it long enough to find some success.
18. What are you most afraid of? At this point, probably excessive amounts of sodium and sugar. The ol’ body can’t handle it like it used to.
19. Where do you see Gary the Band in five years? Is the goal to advance in the music industry, or is it simply an opportunity for friends to make money playing music locally? We just love to play and sing. Hopefully in five years we’ll just still be playing and having fun together. Bonus points if we can get an original album out before then.
20. Share the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given. I’m really thankful for the acceptance and encouragement from my parents to follow the musical path I desired. I’m not sure it was ever said in these words exactly, but the sentiment was “follow your dreams.” If I hadn’t, I can’t imagine what else I’d be doing with my life.