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Articles Home » Music Talk » Interview with Matthias Steele
Interview with Matthias Steele

 

mattthiasSteele3.jpg

(Phote courtesy of Eric Tier)

 

Interview by Nina McCarthy, Music Journalist

nina@bostonrockradio.com

 

Matthias Steele from Westerly, RI  has been playing original old school metal for the past 30 years.  The band consists of Tony Lionetti (L) on vocals and bass, Jami Blackwood (R) on guitar, and Nino Travoto on drums.  I finally caught up with the guys from my hometown to learn more about the band.

 

 

BRR:  Can you briefly explain the history of the band?

 

NT:  Basically the band started with the original members of Tony, myself, and Todd Gencarella in February of 1985.  But Tony and I, and Todd, go back at least a couple years before that.  Tony and I went to school together.

 

TL:  You and I go back to 1981.

 

JB:  And I wasn’t even born yet.  I’m the new guy in the band.

 

NT:  That version of the band lasted until the middle of 1988.  Todd and I had left and Tony carried on.  He got two more members to come into the band.

 

TL:  1991 is when we released “Haunting Tails of a Warrior’s Past” with John Urkin and Jay Jordan.  We had Pete Rock as a producer and we were doing pretty good with that.  Eventually we did a couple other recordings and for some reason or another we parted ways and me and Nino found each other again in the mid 90s and Todd rejoined us in like ‘93 and that lasted about 3 years.  When Todd decided to leave Jami decided to join.

 

BRR:  Did you start the band in High School or after?

 

NT:  I think we were just out of High School.  1981-82 is when we really started to dig in and get serious about it.

 

BRR:  How did you get connected with Minotauro Records?

 

NT:  Three years ago the band split up, but we always come back together.  When we came back together, Tony gave me the password for the Facebook Matthias Steele page and I discovered that there were a bunch of emails from Minotauro Records and other people.  None of them had really been followed through on.

 

TL:  I want to interject really quickly, that one of our ex-drummers, Jay Jordan,  had actually done some rapport back and forth with Minotauro at first.  For some reason or another it never really got back me and at the time we were dissolving for a period there.  I was almost 50 years old.  I thought we were done for awhile so I wasn’t pursuing it at all.  And Nino, continue with your story…

 

NT:  What happened was, when we announced that we were getting back together Minotauro immediately contacted us thinking that it was probably either Tony or Jay.  They started saying they wanted to out “Haunted Tales” and “Resurrection”.  I said we had new music as well.  We all decided, collectively as a group, and with Glenn Rigley (Minotauro’s  representative for the US because the company is based in Italy) that they would put out 3 separate CDs representing all various eras of the band.  As of February 26th, 2016 we had a CD release party here and released it.

 

TL:  Just to backtrack, Jami joined us after Todd had left and that was in 1996.  Back then, Nino and I were  almost at wits end.  We almost couldn’t replace these guitarists that we already had.  We were like, “How can we continue this?”  It took the gumption to step up.

 

JB:  I used to go watch them play when I was 16 or 17.

 

NT:  Jami was a fan of the band anyway so he kind of already knew the music.  So he stepped in and was a little bit timid and shy but we knew we had something there.  All of sudden he gets this back catalog of music that was thrown at us and we just went crazy and have an interesting balance.

 

TL:  Our writing is basically Jami and I switching off song after song and it’s been working and we haven’t been messing with that.

 

BRR:  Nice.  What are your rehearsals generally like?

 

JB:  Funny.  I’m usually in my pajamas.  Come on a Tuesday and you will see. (laughing)

 

NT:  We’re all in lounge pants and slippers.  See this photograph right here (shows me photo below) and see how tough we look.  Do you know what we are wearing from the waist down?

 

MatthiasSteele.jpg

 

TL:  That took us about an hour to get dressed up for.

 

NT:  Jami had flannel pajama bottoms on, or shorts.

 

TL:  Nino had a thong on and I had knickers.

 

NT:  From the waist down, we’re not metal.  But from the waist up we are all metal.

 

JB:  We are just normal guys at home jamming in the basement.

 

TL:  Normal blue collar group that is trying to represent all the people we work with. We take that into consideration when we are doing our music.

 

NT:  We just want to please all our people who listen.  We hope it’s working.

 

BRR:  Tell me a little bit about your newest CD, “Question of Divinity”

 

NT:  Those songs were in the can for awhile.  They were recorded at friend’s house, Shawn Allen.  We recorded there and they’ve just been sitting in the can for a couple of years.  We didn’t do anything with them.  When we split up, we figured they were going to rust in there.  I went away and these guys did their own thing and then we got back together and Minotauro got in touch with us.  Tony wanted to re-record some of those songs, but my thing was that we captured a moment in time all those years ago.  Plus, we didn’t have the money or time to go back and re-record that stuff so we just sent it out.

 

TL:  It took me a little to warm up to the recordings that we had.  I didn’t think they were up to par.  Now looking in hindsight, it’s powerful recording.  It captured us at that moment in time.  So, it’s all good.

 

BRR:  Actually, it’s what is coming back, the old school metal.  Are you guys planning on any international gigs?

 

TL:  If the label pays for it.

 

BRR:  Exactly.

 

NT:  If we can find a cat sitter for me, I’m all set.

 

TL:  I believe we are limited because of family; kids and grandkids and full time jobs for all of us, but it’s possible.

 

NT:  If the opportunity arouse and we are able to schedule it as a vacation.  These guys both have women in their lives, kids, I don’t.  I just have a cat.

 

TL:  We utilize that.  Nino has just a little bit more free time so we put him in charge of PR and other relations with clubs and bookings and stuff.  He’s very good at it.  He’s a phone guy.  I’m not so much.  I’m not a salesman and you have to have a little pitch to it.  I’d rather sit back and write the music and that’s that.

 

BRR:  You kind of answered this a little, but what do you think contributes to your longevity?

 

NT:  I’m going to say, even though we’ve been together to this day maybe 31 years, there have been some hiatuses of a couple years here and there, but we always find ourselves coming back.  I think our contribution to the band is that we’re still friends.  We’re Westerly, so we know Westerly.  Nobody else wants to play with us.

 

TL:  You’ve got to be friends.  Just like the band you hear behind us (referring to 3 Points of Madness covering Rush).  The reason they lasted for 40+ years is because they loved each other so much.

 

BRR:  There aren’t many bands in Westerly!  There’s only one other original band I know out of Westerly, Wild Sun.  But they mostly play out of the area. Westerly is about Blues.

 

TL:  It’s always been a Blues area.

 

BRR:  Can you tell potential fans where to go to get your info, music, merch.

 

NT:  You can find us on Facebook.  We don’t have a website.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about whether we should do it or not because everyone is going to Facebook.  But if we had the website, people could buy music there. Here comes the sales pitch….

 

JB:  I just want to plug my own business on the side very quick.  I also build my own custom handwired tubed guitar amplifiers.  It’s called Blackwood Amplification and you can reach me at jamiblackwood@aol.com or you can find me on Facebook. I don’t have a website yet.   My product is for sale and can be seen at Alpha Audio in Mystic, CT.

 

BRR:  Nice!  Thank you guys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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