Words Cassie Walker.
After a long ringing the phone finally answers, the line is filled with static and there is a delay on the other end, alas I’m finally connected to California based singer Shawn Harris, well known as front man for The Matches. They’ve just embarked on the American leg of the 10th anniversary tour of their stand out album ‘E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals’.
He answers with a drawn out: ‘ello?
Cassie: Is this Shawn?
Shawn: This is he.
Cassie: Thank you for taking the time to have a chat to us, what are you up to at the moment?
Shawn: Right now I’m laying on my guest bed in my new house which is a 1974 airstream trailor and I’m doing some interviews and writing some songs while I wait for the next ones to call.
Cassie: Making the most out of your time. I have seen that you’ve been posting some acoustic versions of songs from the album ‘E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals’, is it difficult revisiting these songs after having first worked on them over ten years ago?
Shawn: (Laughing and stumbling to find the words) That’s a complicated question. Yes and no.
I had no idea how it would be when we played them at the first reunion show and that has been a cliff hanger I’ve been living with for the past 9 months, since we decided we were going to do a show, which turned into a tour, which turned into an international tour. It was all a bit of an accident. We were just going to do one little thing and there was the demand for it so we just kept on adding to it but you’re talking to me now after having played a week of shows in California and seeing a bunch of familiar faces from back in the day all grown up to be completely interesting, unique and really smart people that were like 14 when they were originally coming to our shows. They’re real living, breathing human beings. Many are really creative themselves after having spent some time playing music for them and just seeing how much this band meant to so many people in terms of being an outlet and inspiration for being creative and having a community, I feel the relevance of what we were doing now.
In California we were never a mainstream radio or internet band, we were always a DIY little cult band and these people still hold that dear. So when we play these songs, to me and to all these fans that showed up it’s bringing back our roots, where we came from, why we started being creative people and venturing out into our love of art and things. It’s been really cool.
Now that the world of music is ever changing I’m interested in different projects, that aren’t necessarily punk rock, after The Matches. I did my time messing around with other ideas that I had musically. It’s interesting to come back to these songs and sort of ignore the fact that the punk rock of the early 1990s has changed into other forms and just hearing it and playing it for what the songs are and what they meant to us. If you listen to our first record it’s very teenage and so when we’re in our early twenties some of that shit was embarrassing, like “oh man I can’t believe we wrote about trying to get laid for the first time”. That’s embarrassing when you’re 21. You’re like “oh man, grow up I don’t want to play that song anymore” but that was a formative part of our lives and so many other peoples lives as well that they don’t hear it and go “oh man” we’ve all aged past the point of needing to prove that, we’re mature and capable of adult thought. Now we’re old and fat we’re like “fuck man, remember when we were just like trying to have sex with the neighbor who wanted nothing to do with us and was a grade older”. You know what I mean? They’re fond memories now instead of embarrassing ones.
Cassie: It sounds like a great attitude to look back with.
How was it connecting with the other members of The Matches for these shows?
Shawn: It was great, I felt like we didn’t really miss a beat. It’s great to be playing with our bass player Justin (San Souci). He stopped playing with the band a year before we broke up which had a lot to do with why we actually decided to call it quits on The Matches. The chemistry completely changed and it was no longer the founding members and this isn’t just a job to us, it is something about the original line up that made or created the sound of the band. I never wanted to tour around different versions of the line up and flogging the songs, it was really about the sound and the vibe that was originally created so it’s cool to be reunited in that sense.
Cassie: The band did tour Australia quite early on in the bands career and are coming to Australia to celebrate the album’s 10th anniversary, tell me about your connection with Australia.
Shawn: Some of my best friends in the world are Australian. So personally I was willing to agree to fly back and spend some time over there, but The Matches always had a strong connection with the bands we played with over there. I just really love Australian culture from the first day that I got off the plane on The Matches first trip to Australia, the culture is different but you have an awesome vibe that was appealing to me.
There are many differences but the thing that shape all of your culture verses ours is that everyone that I’ve met from Australia, they work in order to afford playing, being and hanging out with their families and doing creative fun things with people that they love spending time with. That sounds like it should be everyone on earths memo but somehow American culture feels like we just work for money not to have just enough money to do the things that we love and spend time with people who we love. It’s like we sort of make money, make more money and spend as little time with people you love and that’s never made sense to me and I never knew why. I really dig spending time in a place where people have great friendships and spend time with their family and do shit that they love doing. It sounds obvious but people who don’t spend that much time doing things they love doing, it’s crazy and I feel I was born with an Australian sense of value, so you guys make sense to me.
Cassie: I’m surprised to see NSW band Something With Numbers aren’t joining The Matches on the tour as there’s such a strong history with the two bands.
Shawn: (Laughing) I don’t know if that would ever happen, not that I don’t want it to happen but that would be amazing. I can’t speak for Jake (Griggs- front man Something With Numbers) but all I know is he is pretty pumped on us right now and I think the last thing that he would want to do is be a punk with me again. Although I am spending an extra week in Australia to go hang with him, but we are just going to sit around on the couch and drink beer.
Cassie: When a lot of bands get together for a “one off” reunion show it rekindles the flame and they go on to create another album and another chapter for the band. Is that a possibility in this instance?
Shawn: You know, I don’t know? Everything we’ve done so far has been really good. We tend to have under estimated what the response was going to be and then the fans are demanding for more shows, more vinyl, which is more than we expected. So for me I prefer being pleasantly surprised verses having some glossy expectation. This has all been a charmed trip for me and I don’t know if there’s a place for The Matches in the current music world. I really don’t know. I know that when we got together to play these tunes, it all came back really easily and it was really fun and the responses that we’ve had have been insane. I’m not sure if that response means make new songs or if it’s just thanks for letting fans relive their youth. I don’t know what it means but I’m hoping someone will tell me.
Cassie: I’ve got to let you go but we look forward to seeing you here in Australia and thanks for the chat!
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FRIDAY JANUARY 9TH – AMPLIFIER BAR, PERTH 18+
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