Matt – Pianist / FOH sound

It was a cold miserable day in Dudley town centre. Scratch that…. Every day was miserable in the West Midlands. However, shining and gleaming through the local cash convertor’s window was a most peculiar thing. It had 61 keys and over 1,000 sounds. I was 8 years old at the time and there wasn’t a day that went by where I found myself entranced and mesmerised by this instrument. My mom thought it was another phase I was going through. I was already on my second power ranger within a space of 3 months because robocop, Teletubbies and toys out of cereal boxes weren’t cool anymore.

A few weeks passed and I still couldn’t stop looking at this keyboard. Realising that this wasn’t going to go away, my mom reluctantly entered the shop. The moment she crossed the door she was soon to be subject to the most annoying noises for years to come. As soon as I switched it on I was addicted. However, there was a catch. This keyboard would be a Christmas and birthday present and I would have to take lessons. Being 8 years old this was a hard decision. The unfortunate reality that Santa Claus, who was the bringer of all joy and happiness, was also a mastermind of limited choice. To my mom’s shock and horror, the keyboard won.

Fast forward a few years and I was excelling in my lessons, smashing through music theory grades, and even playing along to the hi-fi and tv downstairs. By the age of 10 I did my first little mini group concert performance and was already playing the piano in my local primary school. Then came the time to go to high school. For the first few months I didn’t tell anyone that I played an instrument for the fear of being uncool.

However, after a few months in music class and the countless torture of kids pressing the ‘DJ’ button on the keyboards I disappeared off into one of the music rooms and started to play the piano. By this time I was writing my own songs but never knowing where or how they would sit with others. And then, by pure luck I met another Music teacher. His name was Jon Pye and where I am today, I owe fully to him. Jon taught me so much about music and how to play in a band. Music could be more fun and it wasn’t just about reading music. Within 3 months I wrote and recorded my first song and played it in a band at the school rock and pop concert.

The great thing about playing in any band is that you become part of a universal language, you feed off others creativity to create something truly magical and unique. I was quite fortunate to be part of Sandwell’s gifted and talented musical network. Throughout the whole of high school I was playing on open air concerts, collaborating and writing with other musicians, and having weekends away making music at Ingestre hall. This where I learnt about music production and recording. Before you know it I was featuring on numerous albums, and getting radio time with songs created by other students. Additionally, I took advantage of free music lessons playing every instrument I could get my hands on. There wasn’t a week that went by where I was coming home with a different instrument or piece of music gear in hand. The only one I wasn’t allowed was a drum kit, simply because there was no space with all the other keyboards and instruments. But my second love was playing guitar. Nothing beats the feeling of having your amp cranked and feeling the strings vibrate through your whole body! But, my main instruments are keys, guitar and drums.

Again, fast forward, by this point, a lot of years I find myself still doing music with my music teacher and friends, trying to play every gig possible and still getting featured on local radio with my music teacher’s band! One aspect of networking through music is you just never know who you might meet.

A great highlight was when I first met Rolly. At the time he was with Amera and trying to form a funk/soul band. I can absolutely state he is a crazy guy but something about his work ethic and commitment drawn me towards him! I remember one day where he called me and said “we are supporting Soul 2 Soul”. One thing you learn pretty quickly in the music world is how far some musicians delusions of grandeur extend! But sure enough it happened, and I knew he wasn’t messing about!

Over the last decade I’ve worked on numerous projects with Rolly whilst playing in other bands. Then sure enough by fate I was rang again by Rolly who wanted to put a Santana tribute band together! I’d never done anything like this before, so really wanted to push the boat out! Adding to it the other members who were joining I also knew for a long time from a previous band project! From that point the venues just kept getting bigger and bigger, and of course the gear too! More importantly we have become a family, watching each other’s family grow and just enjoying the whole process all the way! I think that’s what makes it work, we all have a musical chemistry, and every gig is a damn good time!!! Luckily, The guys don’t get too annoyed when I stop a song and can tell who’s out of tune, playing the wrong chords, or, change the complete structure of a song! 😂😂😂