An Interview with
Bassist of DC4
that took place at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, West Hollywood, California
on July 24th, 2014.
Interview by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: So I’m here with Matt Duncan from DC4, So Matt, what got you interested in music originally?
Matt: My Dad was a musician. He was a songwriter and he wrote the song called ‘Let’s Go’ with The Handclaps. So we had music in the house as well were growing up. It was always in the house. It started there and it started very early. I think I was five or six when I really started getting into music. So that and we got into his records – the 50’s records, 60’s records and around then we discovered Kiss and Led Zeppelin and AC/DC and that’s what pretty much got us into it. But going to see him play.. my Dad play when he was doing nightclubs is what kinda got us going, “I wanna do that”. That was probably it.
Glenn: Why Bass guitar?
Matt: You know what’s funny is I was always drawn to low frequencies. As a kid I would hear classical music or anything that had that low freq. and I didn’t know what it was. It was like, ‘What is that?’ and I didn’t know what it was until one day I was in the mall with my brother Jeff and he had already started playing guitar. I was playing keyboards at the time – he was very, very young and he said, “Why don’t you play the bass?” and I said, “What’s that?”, and he goes, “It’s that thing”, and he pointed to the wall and it only had 4 strings on it. He said, “That’s what Gene Simmons plays”. “Oh”, and then I heard it and I go, “Oh that’s the sound I always hear that I didn’t know what it was”. So I was playing keyboards and my dad got me this like bass keyboard which is the opposite of a regular keyboard as it has the low notes. So I started messing with that and I tried to put a strap on it to try to stand up with it and I go, “Why don’t I just sell this and buy a bass?” and that’s what I did and from then on I’ve been a bass player ever since then. That’s why because I was always drawn to the low frequencies and I never knew what it was and that’s how it happened.
Glenn: I’ve never heard of that before. That’s a classic answer.
Matt: Yeah. I always wanted to be a bass player. I never… well I do play guitar but I picked it up later with something I write with that but bass has always been my thing because I was always drawn to the low… and I knew that wasn’t a drum… ‘that’s not a drum, I can hear it’. It’s funny how I figured it out.
Glenn: So what was your first bass and what was it about that bass that you liked so much?
Matt: I sold my bike to buy my first bass. It was a Fender Jazz… it was a copy. I don’t remember what brand it is. The neck when I bought it and I didn’t know anything about guitars at the time… the neck was really bowed and the action was really high. It made my fingers strong but finally I got rid of that and I got a Gibson SG copy. That was better. It played better. Then one year for Christmas my parents bought me a Fender Bullet bass. I still have that. I went with my dad to get it. I remember it was like two weeks before Christmas and we went and picked it out and I couldn’t touch it for two weeks. “You can’t touch it for two weeks – it’s Christmas present”, so I had to wait for two weeks to get that and I finally got to do it. What’s funny is both my parents are past - they’re gone but we were cleaning out their house and I actually found the cancelled cheque to that bass in a pile of papers and I actually remember my dad writing that cheque for that bass so I put it in the case with that guitar so I still have it.
Glenn: I guess that’s like a momento of being with your parents as well?
Matt: Yeah I’ll never get rid of that. I don’t know what I’ll do with it but I’ll never get rid of it. I play it sometimes you know, usually on Christmas Day I’ll pull it out and I’ll play it just for nostalgia.
Glenn: What do you like playing these days?
Matt: I use the Music Man – the Stingray Sword. That’s what I pretty much use exclusively. I have about 24 basses and guitars but I use the Music Man Stingray pretty much exclusively - I like this. They fit me perfectly. I tried a few basses and I tried Jazz basses and I was always a Fender guy and then the Music Man interested me and then I realised Leo Fender made the Music Man. I thought, I’ll check that out and it’s just perfect for me. I’ve used those for about 20 years now.
Glenn: What was the first thing that you learnt to play on the bass guitar?
Matt: It was a song by Cheap Trick called ‘On Top Of The World’. It’s off the ‘Heaven Tonight’ album. It was that and the C Major scale and I got together with some kids next door who were playing but they weren’t into Heavy Metal, they were into The Knack and The Go-Go’s and things like that but I wanted to play. Jeff and Shawn had already been playing in their band so I got together with these guys and they wanted to play Go-Go’s ‘We Got The Beat’. So it was one of the first bass lines I learnt too (it) was that one. It’s a little embarrassing but I did it against my will, I tell you that. I learned and it was fundamental and I learned what an actual bass line was at that point. It was that one and that Cheap Trick song and the C Major scale.
Glenn: I thought you’d have said a Kiss song.
Matt: Yeah I know - I’m a Kiss freak. That didn’t come ‘til a little bit later. I think I learned like ‘God Of Thunder’ or one of those.
Glenn: A real standout.
Matt: Yeah. It was that one and maybe ‘Black Diamond – easier stuff. That was a little further down the road. I had to get my dexterity first and that was that.
Glenn: What was the first song that wrote and recorded yourself on bass?
Matt: I was playing in a band on the strip here called ‘Castle’ and I used to write songs for that band. I think it was a song called ‘Enough Is Enough’. I think that was the first song I wrote. I still have it on tape somewhere.
Glenn: There’s so many songs called Enough Is Enough and of course there’s the band called Enuff Z’nuff.
Matt: Yeah I wrote that one – the music, lyrics and everything. I remember that.
Glenn: So tell me, what got you into playing in a band in the first place and then later become a member of DC4?
Matt: Well that’s just what we fell into – Jeff and Shawn – they were playing in bands and guys at school were getting into bands and bass players were hard to come by and I was a bass player so everybody was after me to play with them and just bei9ng around it and being influenced by seeing Jeff and Shawn play and see my dad play and my friends were playing and then we met other musicians and it all became just what it was supposed to be. It was effortless and it just kinda happened and we’ve stayed that way ever since.
Glenn: So would you say you played with certain people at the time that became really, really big later on?
Matt: I don’t remember. First of all it was a long time ago and I probably don’t remember who they were but I think I jammed with CC Deville one time when we were young. He picked me up in a van. I think it was him and we jammed but he was too hyper for me so I just kind of blew it off.
Glenn: So you could have been Bobby Dall?
Matt: Oh please no. (Laughs). He’s a nice guy but…
Glenn: You know what I mean though?
Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Glenn: He was too hyper for you or you could have been the guy in Poison?
Matt: Yeah I guess so, I guess so. I didn’t think of that.
Glenn: What do you most remember about those heydays of the 80’s? What comes to mind and what did you really like and miss about it?
Matt: Well I miss my youth (laughs) for one but you know, just the whole time. Everything was like about to burst and everything was magical and everyone was happy and everyone was competitive. You know, there was a lot of bands out here on the strip that were just… just because you were in another band it was like being in another gang like, “F*ck you dude”, “No f*ck you, f*ck your band”, you know, which is that way and the camaraderie because even though we all might have like not liked each others bands, we were all on the same mission and if an outsider were to come in here and try to mess it up we would all be all, “No”. I remember one time some gangster fellows started wanting to come up here and infiltrate and we were like, “Nope – we can’t have this!”. So they didn’t come in. People would come in once in a while but I miss that – the camaraderie and just things like that. It was a fun magical time and we all knew it. We knew it that it was something special and especially now that you’re older, I thought, ‘That was really special’ because they make movies about it and plays about it so I’m glad I was part of it for sure.
Glenn: Are there certain venues that you’ve come to miss that you wish were still here?
Matt: Oh Gazzarri’s, you know, that was a landmark. That should have stayed here. They should have made that a historical landmark. Just for what it was. That one – well the Roxy’s still here and the Whisky still here and the Troubadour. They’re still here but the Roxy and the Troubadour now only cater to national acts which is really sh*tty. It’s not good for the local scene and they’re wondering why there’s no scene because no one wants to cater for your local bands and that whole pay to play thing you know? We don’t pay to play – we stopped doing that but that ruins a lot of things. But I think I miss Gazzarri’s the most. It was a cool place and Bill was a nice guy.
Glenn: I remember ‘The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part 2: The Metal Years’ and that’s how I found out about Odin and DC4 and a lot of other guys that were around. What do you remember most about that film personally?
Matt: Well I’m actually in the film for like a second. Did you see that?
Glenn: I’ve seen it.
Matt: There’s actually a movie out called ‘The Sunset Strip’ – have you seen that one?
Matt: Okay it’s the same clip of me on the strip and I go in front of the camera. You’ll see it now and once you see me, you’ll go, “Oh there’s Matt!”. I remember standing outside and the big bright lights were on for filming and anyone that got on camera you had to sign that waiver. I didn’t sign mine and I got in the movie and I could have sued them – f*ck*n’ hell. But seriously…I remember Jani Lane sign his thing as they interviewed him. I just remember going over to Gazzarri’s and watch Odin do their filming – it was on a work night, I was working at the time and I was like, “I’m still gonna go”, so I took my girlfriend and we went and watched. London played that same night and blew off a smoke bomb in there and I think everyone had to leave because everyone was choking – so we left – so much smoke! In the movie you can see them all blow it off but what you don’t see is everyone having to leave the club ‘til the smoke clears – it was so bad! It was a really bad explosion.
Glenn: That must be a bit of exclusive information?
Matt: Yeah, we had to clear the room. Then there’s another landmark on this which is down here. It used to be a Denny’s restaurant – down on Sunset right across from the Guitar Centre – everybody called in ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Denny’s’ and that’s where everyone would go after here (The Rainbow). We’d go down to Denny’s and Denny’s would be a rock and roll thing all night because it’s 24 hours and next door to that is ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Ralphs’ – the supermarket and it’s still called Rock ‘N’ Roll Ralphs. That’s because all the bands used to live in that area and go shopping there. I miss Rock ‘n’ Roll Denny’s. I think it’s a coffee house now. It’s right next to Guitar Centre.
Glenn: So what used to happen in Rock ‘N’ Roll Denny’s that you can talk about?
Matt: Well ya know, it’s where everyone would leave here drunk and go there. Eat pancakes, syrup and pancakes and people would, you know, get in fights and people would be making out in the parking lot – all the stuff that happened here – there – but that was usually where it ended because everybody would leave for home from there. They either throw up their breakfast or leave with a girl you know?
Glenn: Yeah. It was a good time?
Matt: Yeah it always a good time. Yeah. I remember I brought a video camera, me and my friend Bob. I have it on tape and we came up on the strip and we talked to all kinds of people – Blackie was here one night – we didn’t interview him though, Paul Gilbert – we talked to Paul Gilbert and Scott Travis who’s now in Judas Priest. He was out here enquiring for Racer X, so we talked to them – I got it on video. It was pretty cool.
Glenn: That’s awesome.
Matt: Yeah it was a good time – hahahaha. I enjoyed that a lot.
Glenn: What led you to form DC4?
Matt: What happened is… the strip died for a while and the grunge scene came along and everyone went off to do their own thing and Jeff had joined Armored Saint and Shawn had joined another band called Outlandos Del Soul and I was in and out of bands trying to find something to do. Then Jeff started writing – he left Armored Saint and starting writing stuff on his own Shawn’s like, “Why don’t we record that?”, and I wasn’t doing anything so they go, ‘Let’s do it” and then our Dad passed away around that time and it just kind of made us closer. We were always a tight family. I had both my parents, we ate dinner together and we had a good upbringing as far as that goes because I know a lot of people that don’t and I didn’t realise how good I had it as far as the household. We looking for singers – we couldn’t find one.
We had a band before just before that called ‘Bird Of Prey’. We were doing the Heavy Metal thing and trying and trying. It didn’t work out. We were working with a singer and me and the singer didn’t see eye to eye at all so I ended up leaving. But the band split up like right after that. Then Jeff started writing his own stuff and then that came about. Then our Dad had passed away. We just started looking for a singer and Jeff sang all the demos so I go, “Why you don’t just sing?”, so he said, “Okay” and then we were looking for a guitar player then we found a guy named Hyland (Church). That was a long time ago - it was ’96. But that’s how it happened.
It’s been pretty much a hassle-free band ever since because it’s the three of us and we’re brothers and from the healthy upbringing that we did have we know how to resolve stuff. Plus now – especially now since we are grown men – it’s like, ‘Whatever – who cares, you know? Then Hyland had some health issues and had to quit for a while. So we were dormant for a long time – probably a year and a half, two years. We did one album with Hyland – we did an E.P. called ‘Mood Swings’ and then we did an album called ‘Volume 1’ with him and then he took sick and had to leave. We didn’t kick him out or nothing – he just couldn’t continue.
Then Jeff was doing this thing with a guy named Harry – Happening Harry. He was doing those things at the Cat Club. Well Harry was doing this All Star Jam thing. As a matter of fact it was with Jeff and it was with Rowan and Simon Wright. So Jeff and Rowan kinda hit it off and he said, “What are you doing?”, and he said, “I’m not doing much”, and Jeff said, “ Well we were looking for a guitar player, you know what are you doing?”, he goes, “I’m not doing anything, I’m looking for a good hard rock band”. We auditioned him once or twice. We auditioned him and the next time he came and we just asked him to join then and he accepted. That was 2006 – so he’s been in the band ever since. So that was a blessing to get him in the band and that gave the band new life.
We recorded ‘Explode’ probably within the first year that we were together – wrote it and recorded it. Some of the songs were already written from the previous but Rowan came in and I had a couple of things so we just started rehearsing and Explode came out and we went and recorded it right away. I like that album. So that’s how that came about. The band just kinda happened after the fall out of the grunge and we got tired of dealing with a lot of people and it’s like, “Well we’re a band already – as a real as band”. We just need to find another guy who’s not like everyone else who can hang. Hyland was and Rowan is too. So that’s how that came about.
Glenn: Yeah it’s good that you got Rowan in the band after all that DIO experience as well.
Matt: It helped. It gave the band new air because we were pretty much like, “Well what are we gonna do now?” and we were getting older. Shawn became a Daddy - a regular Dad. So all that goes into questioning but at the end of the day you are still a musician and you still keep going and that’s just what we did. It gave new life to the band and it was exciting and it’s been exciting every since actually. This version of the band, it just keeps getting better so hopefully the next record will be better.
Glenn: What were your favourite times on the ‘Explode’ album?
Matt: I actually wrote ‘Explode’ - the riff for ‘Explode’ and that was the first time I got a song on a record – like a real record and a title track which is awesome. But just recording it was cool. We were just doing it. We went to Bill Metoyer’s house. He has a studio in his house in his garage. What happened is, he didn’t have a drum room so we had to go to another place called ‘Go Street Porters’ that’s in downtown. So we started doing drums and then our Mom passed away. So we stopped for a while – we had to stop and we resumed maybe a month or two later but we’d already recorded ‘Explode’ – the song ‘Explode’. I think we had recorded that one and ‘Rock And Roll Disease’ at that point.
Then we had to stop and then we went to Bills house to finish it. Joey came in and produced it. But just the whole time… it was fun to be able to actually do another record. Any time you get to make another record is awesome. It’s just fun to hear things back. Everybody is in a good mood and we were well-rehearsed for it so we were ready. It went really quick and it was almost done with the exception of the break that we took when our mum died. I think that album was recorded in like two weeks – it’s fast – maybe like nine or ten days.
Glenn: Is that because a lot of the material was written already?
Matt: Yeah. ‘Candy Caine’ was already written. We were doing that before. ‘Cabin Fever’ was already done. It was like three or four of them that were already done and Jeff had already had ideas for like ‘This Is What You Wanted’ and then Rowan came in with ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Disease’ and then we all worked on it. ‘Experiment’ was already pretty much done. Then Jeff and I really got together and finished ‘Explode’. It was done and we wrote ‘Explode’ because I had all the parts pretty much – that was written in like 20 minutes and then Jeff went and wrote the lyrics because he’s really good at writing lyrics so he did ‘em pretty quick. I said, “What shall I call it?”, and Shawn said, “Call it ‘Explode’ and he went and wrote lyrics.
Glenn: I remember the cars on the cover.
Matt: Two dragsters yeah. If you look at the dragsters, one says ‘Duncan’ on it and one says ‘Robertson’ on it if you look really close at it. A lot of detail was put into that.
Glenn: You are just so lucky to have a band of brothers like that.
Matt: Yeah it’s very fortunate.
Glenn: It doesn’t happen very often.
Matt: No and it just works. If fires like an engine and we all like the same sound. We all like the same tone. So for some reason we all like that big beefy sound and we all individually have that in our playing so it’s scarcely sort of genetic thing but it’s definitely cool. Like we know how to argue and you know?
Glenn: It all must be so easy to get on because you all know each other back to front anyway because you are brothers?
Matt: Yeah so even travelling is good. I guess we were brought up in a pretty healthy upbringing so there’s not a lot of issues or resentment or you know, any of that. It’s fun to travel with them and Jeff really funny and he’s always joking so it’s entertaining.
Glenn: What are your favourite road stories that you can talk about from DC4?
Matt: We did that ‘Monsters Of Rock’ cruise. That was pretty cool. They flew us to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then we stayed there for the night and then we got to go on the ship. If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you have to go in this big warehouse to check in and you’ve got to give ‘em your credit card. The line’s forever because everybody that’s on the cruise is in this bog warehouse with their luggage and all that but the bands had their own entrance. So we just went in a small line, got checked in and we got treated really well and that was really fun and getting to fly there and fly home – it was just nice.
It was a good experience and then one night on the cruise I was walking and I saw Scott Coogan who played drums for Ace Frehley and Brides Of Destruction but he was playing with Lynch Mob at the time. He was, ‘Hey get your bass’, I was like, “Why?’, he goes Robbie’s asleep and we need a bass player”. I said, “Okay”, so Robbie Cramer was asleep so he’s like ‘Go and get your bass”, I said, “Okay”. I got my bass and the next thing I knew I was standing on stage with George Lynch, Frank Hammond from Tesla and John Carobi and Scott Coogan. They were like looking at me and going, “What do you know?”, I’m like, “I don’t know, just play something”. So we ended up doing like ‘All Right Now’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and that was pretty cool. It was exciting for me because George Lynch is looking at me in the eye playing his guitar which is kinda cool to be up there with those guys. To have that amount of experience like Frank Hammond and him you know and John Carobi of course. That was fun.
Glenn: It was kind of like a Monsters Of Rock All Star Cruise Jam.
Matt: Yeah. It’s on Youtube – you can see it on Youtube. At one time we played Rocklahoma – it’s in Oklahoma. So Odin was playing and then Armored Saint was playing and DC4 was playing. So Jeff did 3 shows in 3 days. It was mid-July and it was hot – I mean it was just muggy hot. So me and Rowan flew in a day later and it was the middle of July and it was blistering hot there and all of a sudden out of nowhere this blue and black cloud comes up in the sky and just keeps getting bigger and bigger and the next thing you know a monsoon hits. We’re standing in the middle of this airfield and the rain was going sideways. So we go for shelter because we hadn’t got our passes yet – we’ve just got there. We go in this merchandise tent and the rain is coming the tent sideways and we’re just like in the middle and we’re like, “Oh my god – this is awful”, and the lightning’s pounding and as you saw the lightning you would hear it – it was right on top of us and there was a funnel cloud and tornado bound and we’re texting Shawn, “Hey hi, get us!, Where’s our passes?”, and all of the side-stages just blew down. We were gonna play on a side-stage. So those were in the mud – just done. “Oh well, I guess we’re not gonna play, you know?” And we came all the way out here but it was still fun.
We’re going back to the hotel kinda bummed about it and Jeff kinda said, he goes, “Well ya know at least it was an adventure”, and we all started laughing.” It’s true but then we got back to the hotel room and said, “Hey, we’re gonna put up another stage if you guys still wanna play it?”, We go, “Yeah we’ll still play”. The bummer was, is we were supposed to go on between Tesla and Queensyche on the side-stage. The side-stage is right next to the main stage so all the crowd would have to do is (look to the other stage)… So it would have been great. But they set up the new side stage behind the audience and then it was a tent. So you know, we still played but not a lot of people came because they were waiting to see Queensyche. But it was still fun and it was muddy and it was wet and Ron Keel, he played with us that night. We were all laughing because they’d re-connected with him from the ‘Strip days because we hadn’t seen Ron Keel in forever and Jeff and Shawn knew him from the club days in Keel. There was real big competitiveness between Keel and Odin at the time. Ever since then everyone’s grown up and he was glad to see us. “Hey, how’s it going?”, so we’ve been friends with him ever since. He’s actually the one who convinced Jeff to move to Vegas. So that was a good memory. It was a good time. It was scary but it was fun.
We did ‘South By Southwest’ one year – that was fun. It’s always something on the road. Something breaks down and you’re like, “God”, but you take care of it and then you laugh about it and say, “Well that was fun”, because you know, it’d be boring if nothing happened – you know what I mean? “Oh we played a show and went back to our room”, you know what I mean?
Matt: At least we got stories to tell.
Glenn: Unless it’s a blur of just another show and you have nothing to remember about it – it’s no fun.
Matt: Yeah it’s no fun especially if you spend the whole time drunk. It’s like “Ahh I don’t remember anything!” – so what’s the point?
Glenn: Exactly. I mean what are you gonna do in that instance, ask some of your friends who happened to be there?
Matt: Right. Then you can’t bring a lot of friends with you any more because the budget’s so low – you can’t bring people. “Well you can come but you gotta spend your own money”. So that’s usually the fun stuff. Things that go wrong.
Glenn: I remember hearing about Rachael Rine who was the drummer in Cockpit who were there at Rocklahoma too.
Matt: You can look it up on Youtube. Look up Rocklahoma storm. Trixter was playing at that point and they actually had to stop them and shut the door on the stage – it was getting worse and worse. But that was really scary because you are standing in this airfield – it’s the middle of a field – you’re just a sitting duck. There’s lighting going off around you and you’re like, “Oh my God, what are we gonna do?”.
Glenn: It’s amazing isn’t it?
Glenn: Were there any songs written about that?
Matt: You know, no I never thought about that. Maybe we can do something about that. I’ll tell Jeff about that. Jeff seems to be the writer and he writes lyrics really good so maybe he can write something about that. He has a song written called ‘Castaway’ which is about a guy getting caught up in a storm and ending up on an island. Maybe he could call it that. I don’t know. Usually anything we do when we travel is pretty fun, Something always goes wrong and you just laugh about it and just keep going ‘Okay’.
Glenn: So tell me about the new album?
Matt: Well we have five or six songs written for it now. A song called ‘Atomic Highway’ which is really good. Another one called ‘One and Only’ and these are just working titles of course and another one called ‘Rebelution’ – like rebel and revoltion.
Glenn: Yeah that’s cool.
Matt: Yeah I heard that. I thought of that one day at work – ‘Rebelution’ and I called Jeff and goes, “That’s cool man, yeah, I’ll write a song about it” and he did. He has the lyrics for it, he just hasn’t recorded them. There’s a few more songs and riffs and stuff that I gotta compile. We have almost a full album now so as soon as the Summer comes down to a close I guess we’ll start working on that. You know, Jeff he moved away to Vegas for a while so he had to settle into his new life there.
Glenn: At least with the greatness of the internet you can fire ideas to each other.
Matt: Yeah he does everything in a demo and he just sends to me in a file and I gave him my ideas and I just send ‘em to him. So when we do get together – we play Vegas a lot now because he lives there. When we do get together I will show him. “Well this is what I wrote”, “Oh okay”. Then he’ll keep it in his head.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite parts are of a DC4 show?
Matt: You know I think just the show itself – the whole show and how you can see the audience witness how bombastic we sound. Like I was telling you earlier, we like the bigger sound – the tones and it comes across really well and you can see it in the peoples faces when you see us play. It’s like, “Oh my god”. It’s kinda like a punch in the head. That’s usually my favourite part – seeing the surprise in some people, like “Oh my God – these guys know what they’re doing”. I think that’s it and when Jeff and Rowan do their… just before ‘Candy Caine’ they do a guitar duel and some nights it’s just really good. Some nights it is just on fire. That’s usually fun to watch because the crowd goes nuts. That’s usually part of it but pretty much the whole show in itself is really that I enjoy everything about it. There’s nothing I dread.
Glenn: Apart from Rocklahoma, what would you say the craziest shows you have done? What comes to mind where you think ‘How the hell did we get that show? Even benefits and stuff – what stands out for you?
Matt: You know what’s funny is, it’s usually the smaller ones. We’ll get this call from this place up in Prescott, Arizona and it’s a tiny little place. The stage is probably no bigger than this booth (as in a Rainbow Bar and Grille booth) and I’m not kidding you and we all scrunch up. But the people there, they just love us and we go there and we4 play and the crowd just loves us. Every time we go there it’s just fun and they’re appreciative. So they’ve got our picture up on the wall. People wear our shirts when we they up. Like old friends they are like, “Hey how are you?”, “Okay”. Things like that.
Glenn: How was the Paladinos Show for you – the benefit?
Matt: The benefit was good. It was meaningful because that guy who it was for, Dave Brown had the same cancer that our Mom had – like a very rare liver cancer. So we kinda had a heartfelt thing for it. Like, “Okay, we know this guy’s pretty serious” because there’s no cure for what they have. It’s like 1 per cent of people get that type of cancer and 1 per cent of that per cent survives. So it’s just like it’s a really bad form of cancer and he had that type. So just getting to play in front of everybody and the crowd was just into it You know, Ann (Boleyn of Hellion) came up and we did a couple of songs with her and it was like her debut after so many years. It was just a vibe that night.
Everyone pulled together to play for this guy and a lot of the old Sunset Strip people were there – the old gang – Rik Fox was there, the guys from Sound Barrier, which is funny as this place was down the street from a club called ‘The Country Club’ – ‘The Country Club’ was a big venue. It’s like way out in the valley and everyone played there – everybody played there. It was funny because that place does not exist – the building is still there. That’s a venue that I wish was still here was ‘The Country Club’. It’s like a Spanish church now –it’s weird. All the night club scenes in the movie ‘Boogie Nights’ was at the Country Club.
So it was weird that we were like three or four blocks away from there – maybe a little further and everybody that was there had played it. Don (Dokken) was there, Armored Saint was there – we were on a mission. We were there for a guy from back in the day and were giving the support and it was a nice night for that. That was what I liked most about it and everyone there was glad to see each other. It was a good thing. That guy Dave Brown, he played drums for the band in the ‘Back To The Future’ movies – he was the drummer in Michael J. Fox’s 50’s band.
Glenn: How would you describe the bass playing style of Matt Duncan?
Matt: I would say it’s cross between Michael Anthony and Geezer Butler – I think that pretty much sums it up. That’s who I listened to mostly growing up and Gene Simmons – I like to do the slides. They call that a varoom. I got that from him. But mostly, it was mostly Geezer Butler and Michael Anthony of Van Halen – it’s solid. I like that. As I got to develop my ear more I started listening to other bass players and I liked Juan Croucier from Ratt – he was one of my favourite bass players at the time. Him and I became friends on facebook which is amazing. But Geezer Butler and Michael Anthony – that’s pretty much it – that’s where I came from. I’m not a Billy Sheehan and I’m not a Steve Harris – I’m a Geezer Butler guy.
Glenn: The old school sort?
Matt: Just a solid, thick. You know, I can do all that but I just don’t. I do it at home on my own and for fun and I can slap and I can do all that. I am a well-rounded bass player but I like it when I’m in the band, I like it to be ‘thick as a brick’ and just solid man – lay it down. Make it fun. Make it as solid as you can so you can’t even get water through it. That’s how I like it – that’s my bass playing.
Glenn: So tell me about the time you worked and jammed with Simon Wright.
Matt: Oh yeah, I just played with him the other day. It was last Saturday. I did a rehearsal with Hellion. I was filling in for Bjorn Englen – I think he’s out with Tony McAlpine right now. He couldn’t do the rehearsals so they asked me to fill in because Shawn and I had played with Ann a few weeks, well a little while ago for another benefit at Paladinos. It was for missing children abduction so Ann wanted to do that but Simon was out with Queensyche and Bjorn was out with Dio’s Disciple so she asked if me and Shawn would… well Simon called Shawn and said, “Hey, would you do this?”, “Yeah – no problem”. So we did that and about a week ago, two weeks ago Simon & Ann called me to see if I would fill in for this rehearsal and I got to play with Simon which is just incredibly awesome. It’s like ‘Wow’ – the history that this guy has behind him. He’s got AC/DC – he played on four records with AC/DC. The thing about Simon was is Shawn hits really hard, my brother, and I’m used to that. So whenever I play with other drummers I can’t really hear them but I could with Simon because he hits just as hard and I really enjoyed that. Plus it was such a thrill to play with him anyway. I remember when he got the AC/DC gig - “Wow that guys so luck…’ He was Rowans age when he got the DIO gig – “Look at that guy – he’s so young what a lucky guy”. Who’d have known, you know 25 years later…
Glenn: That he would play with you?
Matt: Yeah. So that was the truth. Even things like that that happen turnaround. I remember when Rowan had left DIO and Oni had left DIO, they started a band and I tried and tried to get an audition. I couldn’t find where they were, no one knew but I knew they were looking for a bass player. I couldn’t find them so I ended up just giving up and then 27 years later I’m walking in the Bahamas with Rowan and Oni from the Monsters Of Rock Cruise and we are just walking on the island checking things out and was thinking to myself, ‘Who’d have thought I’d be on an island with these two guys in the Bahamas hanging out with ‘em and I tried so hard to get an audition’. It’s funny how that stuff works out later.
Glenn: Life’s a funny thing.
Matt: It really is man. I remember watching Rowan in Dio when he got the DIO gig. I went to that tour. Trippy.
Glenn: What sorts of things would you say you are most proud of so far in your career in music or any other parts of your life?
Matt: Just that I didn’t p*ss anyone off. You know I’ve been pretty good about that and I don’t really have a lot of enemies. I’ve always just tried to be a nice guy about things. Of course the records I’ve done – I’m proud of every one of them. Really happy with them. I’m proud to be able to make music with my family. That’s a good feeling and a lot of people can’t have that but I get to. Even though we don’t make a lot of money, millions of dollars doing it, I still get to do that which is really cool. I think that’s mostly what I’m proud of and I’m still going. We’re still going – we didn’t quit. Even though we did cut our hair and I grew it back because I had it short forever. Even tough that happened, we never gave up, we never stopped playing – we never gave up and we never will. We will just keep going and keep rocking.
Glenn: It’s part of you. It’s like cutting your arm of or something – you can’t do that.
Matt: No, you know it’s funny because I had friends that… I was telling Jeff that one day, “Man how can you just stop, how can you stop playing?” He goes, “You know some people have talent but it’s not in them”, He goes, “They can do it but it’s not in ‘em. It’s in us – we just can’t stop”. It’s like the saying, ‘The family that rocks together stays together’, so that’s just how that works.
Glenn: What would surprise fans about you that they don’t realise what else you do when you’re outside the business?
Matt: I work in television. I’m a sound man. I work for ‘E Entertainment Television’. I’ve done all kinds of stuff – you know in TV? I like to work out sometimes. Sometimes I’m in shape. I like going boating. I enjoy the lake. I enjoy the river. I just like the water. I’m a water man. I’m not a big fan of the ocean but I like the lakes and I enjoy boating with my friends and just stuff like that. Hanging out with my dog. Sitting by the pool – I have a pool at home. I sit there and just enjoy like I did that today for a while as I had the day off. So I sat there and listened to the radio. I like to kick back. I don’t drink or take drugs or anything. I never did. I never had to quit because I never started.
Glenn: That is why you look well. Some guys you see pictures of them from like 20 years ago and you see them now and it’s like, ‘Sh*t what happened to that guy?’
Matt: Yeah. I know, I never started so I don’t have to quit. So that’s something. People always wanna buy me a drink or do you wanna bong and I’ll say, “No I’m good thank you”.
Glenn: Just be nice about it.
Matt: Yeah I’ve always been that way. I was always afraid of it when I was young. I didn’t wanna do that as I could see how my friends would act and I was always afraid to mess up the signal. I didn’t wanna disrupt the signal. I read that one time in a Henry Rollins book. He said, “I just didn’t like it – it disrupts the signal”. So I like Henry Rollins. I like his books. He’s very sharp. At the end of his first book – it was a book called ‘Get In The Van’ it was a tour diary in Black Flag. At the end of it, it says ‘Keep your body lean, your blood clean and your mind sharp’ and that’s the final words in the book. I was like, ‘That’s perfect’. So… I’m working on the lean part. (W laugh). The rest of it, you know.. I try to keep my mind sort of sharp.
Glenn: So are there any places you’d like to play that you’ve not played yet? Where would they be? What country and why those places?
Matt: Absolutely definitely Europe. We’d love to play Wacken or Dynamo. Any of those big festivals – Sonisphere. Be a part of that because that’s where it is – it’s where the Rock is. Anywhere in England would be awesome.
Glenn: You’d be good at the Hard Rock Hell down in Prestatyn in Wales and do a few dates. Makes it worthwhile and play Sheffield and Nottingham or wherever else to make it worthwhile.
Matt: Yeah. We’ve been trying to get to Europe for years. We had two records out there – ‘Volume 1’ with Hyland was released in Germany and then ‘Electric Ministry’ was let out by Metal Blade all through Europe. So we would like to… I would like to go there and play those big festivals and get that exposure so everyone knows so we could become that. I think that’s what I’d like to do. That’s a goal and something that’s on the bucketlist.
Glenn: You have all sorts of things on the bucketlist?
Matt: Yeah but that one is like… that’s validation. It’s nice to get e-mails from people from there. “When you coming?” and I was like, “Oh God, I wish I could tell you when we’re coming”. I would love that. I would love to go there. All those fests. The guys in Lizzy Borden – they all go and do that. Armored Saint – they play those festivals. Those festivals are crazy. Jeff comes back and I see footage and I’m like, “Oh my God – why are we not playing this?.” So if there’s anyone out there that wants to bring us out there, we’re more than happy to get there.
Glenn: So what would you like to say to the people that are reading this interview right now?
Matt: Give DC4 a listen, give us a chance, get us over to Europe, do you have any power? We’re a good honest band. We’re a no bullsh*t band and enjoy the music if you can.
Glenn: So when can the fans expect your new album coming out?
Matt: That’s a good question. Well Shawn gets back in August (he was out drumming with the BulletBoys at the time of Interview), then Rowan’s got to go out for a little while but he’s only got a handful of dates so I would think we are gonna start focusing on it probably around October. So hopefully by the Spring. Even though this is barely just the middle of Summer. So hopefully because if you put it out, the label’s gonna wait to put it out. So I would hope that it’s done by February maybe. We’ll have it done and then we gotta get it out there. So hopefully it’ll be a Spring release. That’s my guess. Fingers crossed – I hope so. I wanna make another record.
Glenn: That’s great.
Glenn: Thank you for your time Sir.
Matt: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you for the Interview.
Images are used by kind permission of Matt Duncan
Photographs from the Dave Brown Benefit @ Paladinos with Ann Boleyn of Hellion on Lead Vocals by OZZFestAmy