Things All Come Together:
Over the weekend I along with the rest of the guys from CGCM saw many bands at Call Of The Wild that grabbed our attentions and without a doubt, Ransom were one of those bands. With a frontman with attitude and a great voice the band put on a powerhouse performance working the crowd superbly well. I asked about an interview and they were more than happy to say yes. Things however got a bit congested on the day they played (Saturday) and we missed each other (press area was hectic, to say the least, was a lot of fun though).
On the Sunday morning, I was back up in the press area chatting with Rich Dillon one of the Canadian Geeks bemoaning that I had missed out the day before. He was telling me he knew how to contact them if they were still on the site. As he went to do so he suddenly said “There is the singer“, I asked “Where” and he replied, “Just gone past by the windows of the room“. I shot out of the room like an Olympic athlete (OK I might be overexaggerating there😂) to see if I could catch him. When I got outside Matt looked round, spotted me, pointed and went “Man, we missed you yesterday, do you still want to do an interview?” Did I ever? He said he would be happy to give an interview right then if I was ready to do so. We sat down at a table in the office at 8:30 – 9 o’clock in the morning to chat. No rest for the wicked so they say. Matt was forthright and honest as well as very funny so without further ado and in the words of the band’s last single “Strap Yourself In“.
CGCM: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Can I just say that I really enjoyed your set yesterday? One of the things that grabbed me right away was that I loved your lyrics…
Lyrics And Band Background:
Matt: Thanks, well I’m a poet, a published poet and have been writing since a very young age, I just like writing. I have always enjoyed that. I don’t know if you know the background to Ransom (I replied “no”), we formed back around 2016 but we were a covers band playing like 90 gigs a year. We had all been in bands before and when lockdown happened instead of sitting in a huff playing our guitars we decided to write some songs of our own and it was quite important to me to try and write some songs that were meaningful. Our guitarist Dave (at this point he stops as one of the wonderful ladies who work or volunteer in the media area brought us coffee which Matt remarked after saying thanks “Great this will give me some energy”)… so Dave would write some music and give it to me on a Sunday night and I would sit down with the news on and I would be watching you know whatever it might be, Trump, or the race riots, whatever it be, or something like gender offending (they have a song called “Gender Offender“). So I wanted all the songs to have a message, even the tongue-in-cheek ones, to have something to say rather than just you know cars, girls, and bikes or I did this or that you know, if that makes sense.
CGCM: The thing is you did say that you didn’t want to start preaching
Matt: Yeah, it’s important, I don’t want to do a Bono and disappear up my own arse (laughs around the room)
CGCM: The thing is the songs are really catchy and sound like a lot of fun, well they are in many ways, but there were some important messages in there, whether everybody gets it or not.
The Frontmen He Admires:
Matt: As in life. I have been on the periphery of this industry for a very long time and some people don’t get me, some have taken me the wrong way, think I am arrogant or whatever but I’m not. It is self-deprecating and they don’t get it. It doesn’t matter. I think every audience is important, I show every person respect, it doesn’t matter, if someone is coming to see you, you give them the full performance. I always play like that. I grew up watching Dave Lee Roth, Ozzy or Bon Scott, people I thought cared or wanted to have that connection. I was at Reading in ’82 when Dee Snider turned the whole audience around, I watched him do it, the crowd were against him and the band and he turned it round and I thought that was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. I really think you should show an audience respect and you talk to them in that way. You don’t want to preach to the audience but at the same time you are trying to have that 2-way thing, and I always say the magic happens when the band, the audience, the bar staff are one, everyone is having a good time.
CGCM: So is it just the one album you have?
Fun New Song Titles:
Matt: We did that, we recorded that every 3 or 4 weeks. We did it under ridiculous conditions. It can be annoying that you can get your album compared to those major label bands you know who have a lot of money in the studio. What we did or how we did it speaks for itself. We released a single yesterday (the said “Strap Yourself In“) and we’ll see how that does. That is quite exciting. We are working on a whole lot of new material at the moment, we have one at the moment, oh this will go down a storm, this one’s called “Even Nuns Watch Porn” (laughs, everyone in the vicinity joins in) which is based on something the Pope said, and as a Catholic boy, brought up as a Catholic, I thought I would do a tongue in cheek thing like “genuflect to him going down on your knees”. It was an opportunity too good to be true not to do something with. You will love that one (laughs).
CGCM: If you get the word “genuflect” in (Matt says “Oh it is“), it will be only the second song I have ever heard with that word in it (the other is the brilliant “The Vatican Rag” by Tom Lehrer).
(Matt tries desperately to remember how it goes lyrically and ends up laughing, well it is early on a Sunday morning!)
CGCM: So how many songs have you got down or done so far?
Being In The Moment At Gigs:
Matt: We’ve done a few. We did a Christmas song, which we actually got signed on (he sounds surprised strangely) by a label but sadly they didn’t push it, they had it for 3 years and then we ended up doing it ourselves. Certain radio stations we contacted said they didn’t do Xmas music so refused us then 5 minutes later they were playing The Foo Fighter‘s“Run, Run Rudolph”. A bit of honesty would be good from folks. We have 10 songs on the album, the Xmas song, the new single and 3 we are working on at the moment, one called “Mixed Signals” which will be out before the nuns and porn one (once again there are laughs in the media room). This one is about, em, I got a bus going home one day and every single person on the bus was on their phone and I was thinking “What a generation to be living in, it’s ridiculous” (confession time that is also this interviewer🤣). I went to a Jack White concert in Phoenix Arizona and he took all the phones off folks, it was brilliant as people actually watched the fucking concert (laughing) for a change and were in the moment for a change. I quite liked that. There are times where a phone rings and the person is looking at the thing wondering what to do with it (laughing) they use it for everything else.
CGCM: Guilty as charged (laughing). I hardly ever use the phone, just if I need to call the docs or an ambulance or something. I text and pm on socials, take photos, record interviews and all sorts of things.
Matt: There is a joke in one of the Jumanji films where someone asks “Do phones mean something different here” and it is exactly that. It is all devices in one, but I just like talking to people, like this, face to face, chatting. I don’t like when I try to phone someone they ignore the call then email you 2 minutes later. I like the connection. It is like that onstage, I like to look into people’s eyes. I feel that sort of connection gives you a real feel of what a person is about.
CGCM: So from what you said if I have this right you were just a covers band..
Matt: Yeah, yeah, we just played loads of shows. I approached Dave as he was also doing covers and due to the gigging found I personally my voice getting stronger. I think this band is so good, there is more to come, it deserves to do well in my view, we need a proper record label or someone behind us.
(At this point we went off topic a bit chatting about stage presence and how to work an audience. We talked about who we felt had that charisma and connection and who perhaps were good but lack that individuality. Matt mentioned, in particular, Kickin’ Valentina who he felt “knocked it out of the ballpark” as the singer was in and amongst the crowd. We went on to talk in general about eye contact and being yourself and not just throwing shapes etc)
Matt: For me, I think bands shouldn’t worry too much about how they look but rather remember that they are playing to an audience who have paid their hard-earned money to be at a show so they should try to be respectful and do what they can to entertain folks. It is what we try to do as a band. We don’t worry about how good we look… (pauses and laughs). To quote a line from Gladiator “Are we not entertained yet?” Win the crowd and you will “win your freedom”, it’s like my mantra now (laughing). For me, it doesn’t matter how small or how big a crowd you entertain as best as possible. I want when I go to a gig for a band to sell themselves to me…
CGCM: For me one of the best bands ever, and the best I ever saw at Monsters Of Rock festivals was Slade, I mean Noddy had the crowd in palm of his hand. Total control (Matt interjects “brilliant, exactly”). The band were not afraid to look silly, they gave you a show and we walked away in awe. having had a great time. (I then talked about how Blue Oyster Cult died on their arse after Slade, even if they hadn’t all fallen out backstage, no one was going to look good after Noddy and the boys.)
Matt: Yeah Noddy gets it, he gets the crowd. I did interviews in the past including one with the original singer of AC/DC Dave Evans and he was telling me, that is what inspired them. Noddy was involving the crowd, pointing at folk, asking why they weren’t dancing or whatever and Malcolm and Angus wanted to follow that style or attitude.
(We go off on a tangent about what is charisma and thinking of examples even in movies where someone walks on screen and everyone watching gets excited. This wasn’t at points an interview I was doing but rather a long conversation about a number of things over coffee).
Putting Everything Into It:
Matt: I have read or heard that sometimes onstage I can give it a bit too much of “that” (does hand sign for talking), but I like to have a laugh with the audience. Yesterday I was aware we only had half an hour so I kept it down. I have personally learned how to adjust or take onboard fair sort of criticism. It would be great to be picked up as a band, we put everything into it, I mean I actually got quite emotional near the end of the show, I mean I have been doing this a very long time and to get a reaction like that, to see an audience like that was very moving for me. I just wonder if there is at any point someone in a room that can notice that and work with us. In fact, at one point I lost interest in the business and went off and did kid’s parties as it was more fun entertaining them.
CGCM: So are the band looking to just do original stuff or are you going to continue with covers?
The “Pub Band” Branch Out:
Matt: That’s the thing, as I said before we got called a “pub band”, we laugh at that, we take it as a compliment because I think everyone that goes into a pub wants to be entertained. We play some spit and sawdust pubs in London, tough venues, but we go in and play them and win them over and we are proud of being able to do that. Dave formed the band, it is his band, and we just play our original stuff at festivals like this. We were asked to do a covers set at a different festival but we said no, which is no disrespect to the person who asked, but we want to focus on our original stuff, actually, it was also due to how we can be perceived, folks thinking we are just a tribute or covers band and nothing else and if we did that at a festival we would get pigeonholed and we don’t want that. In pubs, folks want covers, although we are sneaking some of our own in now, in fact, some folks are asking for them which is good, but with places like this, it is all original stuff. Personally, I just like to play. To me, every gig is Wembley (laughs).
CGCM: So it is David‘s band…
More About The Band:
Matt: Yeah, and he is the father of the bassist in the band Zach who is also a very talented producer having been to ACM College. He is a brilliant bass player. They are so tight, and with there being family connections in the band it makes it even tighter. We have a drummer called Zippy Lee who is barking mad but brilliant, a very solid drummer, he is on the nose with everything which makes it easy for me to do what I do as they are so tight musically and it is so enjoyable to play and enjoyable to go out. It gives me so much freedom to go slightly off-piste, you know if a situation arises to do something to entertain then I can do it, but of course, I have had to learn when to though. For instance last Friday we were playing in Nottingham, we walked into the pub and it was quite full and then we found out Royal Blood were playing Rock City so we thought it might be a tough gig. We asked the manager if we could go on a little later as the gig up the road had a curfew, so personally I paced myself so the last 40 minutes would go off when everyone came back in. We had to slog it out for a bit but we made sure that when they came back we would be ready for them.
We chatted about working pubs (I used to as a DJ) and the issues with people coming and going or folks in front of speakers trying to shout down their phones to friends. The whole concept of keeping folk in the pub can be difficult, but if you are clever enough to watch the crowd and work them you end up with good nights.
“Aint No Fun Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire”:
Matt: I do it for the love of music. I remember Sting saying that music is its own reward, mind easy to say when you are a multi-millionaire (laughs) but he has a point. I love singing and performing, winning an audience over, to lose that isn’t good at all. If someone sees us and wants to run with us great, if they don’t then so be it. Be sad if we don’t as I know the potential of the guys I play with. Talking of them I need to get back to the guys who will still be in the tent. (lots of laughing).
Humour And Passion:
Matt was a treat to listen to, open and honest. His enthusiasm for music and for the band he is in is crystal clear. He was constantly laughing and saying stuff taking the piss whilst at the same time making interesting points in my view about the music business as well as being keen to stress how important the audiences are and how bands should respect them every time by putting on the best show possible. It is obvious that is what he and the band strive for, well going by the way they grabbed the audience the night before in the tent. The man could talk for England, which is handy as it has been said that I could talk for Scotland. I think on this occasion England may just have won😁. It was fun chatting in general about music and many of our shared idols in the rock world through the past. I hope I have managed to capture his humour and passion for music. He is right in that the band are great, really tight, and put on a show and so he is then allowed to truly work the crowd to the fullest extent. I will put all the relevant links below including how to support the band via their merchandise/music. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to chat and on behalf of all of us at CGCM we wish him and his bandmates all the best for the future!
All photos are thanks to Ian Owen of CGCM.
Purchase Merchandise via Bandcamp: HERE
The CGCM Rock Radio Call Of The Wild 2023 Coverage: LINK
Check out my other reviews and interviews here. Tom