The Vendettas: Talking Oz Rock with Jared Mattern
Interview by Rich Leggatt
Jared Mattern (or "Jazza" to his mates) is a busy guy. As guitarist and backing vocalist to the popular Melbourne rock band The Vendettas, and frontman (guitarist and vocalist) of the powerhouse rock duo Evil Twin, he's got a lot on his plate.
But all the hard work is certainly paying off for this talented songwriter. With two successful albums under his belt: "Burn" (2011) with The Vendettas and "Kill The Funk" (2013) with Evil Twin (and another album with The Vendettas around the corner!) Jared Mattern has become part of the rock 'n' roll mosaic of Australia, a continent that has supplied the world with many great rock acts.
Read on as Jared shares his views on songwriting and the local Melbourne rock scene. He's even provided an impressive list of current Australian rock and metal bands that are well worth checking out.
HMS: On The Vendettas first album "Burn" you guys have a really big, balls–out rock and roll sound with a nod to Swedish hard rock acts like The Hellacopters. Is this sound and style common amongst rock bands from Melbourne?
JM: Yeah regardless of the musical trends Melbourne harbors a love for Rock. I guess AC/DC is the obvious influence from an outside perspective. "Long way to the top" was filmed on the back of a ute (utility – passenger truck) that drove down Swanston St. in the city centre, it's a rich part of our heritage.
I guess for me I discovered the Hellcopters when I was younger and then realized that they were influenced by a lot of Australian hard rock bands such as the Saints, Radio Birdman, New Christs, The Yes–Men, Cosmic Psychos, The Hitmen and The Powder Monkeys, so I just took the long way around.
What I amazes me still in some respects that these influential bands have more credence overseas than they do at home. They are our Ramones/Stooges/The Clash.
HMS: You mentioned that The Vendettas' material for the upcoming album has mellowed a little. How would you describe The Vendettas' current sound?
JM: Still the same. When I say mellowed I really mean we've just diversified and grown as a band. You listen to different styles of music and it finds a way into your own song writing.
HMS: What's the status of the upcoming Vendettas album? Is there a release date?
JM: There are two more mixing sessions for "tweaking" the mix then onto mastering. I would say it would be finished by the end of the year, but due to Xmas we will probably wait until February to launch it formally. We'll look to get it onto radio stations, magazines and webzines for reviews and airplay before then. We are fairly excited as this release will be pressed to vinyl.
HMS: In a country as big as Australia, with the major cities spread far apart from one another, what is the rock scene like with regards to playing gigs and mutual support between bands?
JM: The support is great as it's usually best that you work with the local bands since they have the fans. They are also good to borrow the heavy stuff from such as drum kits or amps. We all help each other out. As the cities grow the regions are becoming more established and suburban venues are becoming more prominent. This helps as you can start to play "around" and still get good crowds over a few nights.
HMS: You have another band, Evil Twin, where it's just you on guitar and vocals and Chris Beechey on drums. I really dig your first album "Kill The Funk" and I heard it was well received in Australia and beyond. Tell us a bit about how you and Chris formed the band. Will we get to hear more from Evil Twin?
JM: Chris and I have been mates for a long time prior to the band forming. Chris at the time also had another band and it was more of a case where we just started jamming and we kind of just wrote songs on the fly, it's a lot of fun and people seem to hear that in the songs. We are still playing gigs and have written new material for another release, I just need to get the Vendettas album finished so I can free up some more time, it's a juggling act.
HMS: As a guitarist and vocalist who do find yourself really influenced by? Are their any particular bands, techniques or styles of music that you find intriguing right now?
JM: I like the vocalist/guitarists that can still rock out while singing and not sacrifice one for the other. Classic examples: Joe Strummer, Johnny Thunders, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain were all good guitarists as well as singers. You don't have to blaze away on solos to be a great guitarist you've just got to be solid.
I've always connected a bit more with the untrained vocal, the unorthodox approach provides something different.
Rock (in my opinion) really is just country and the blues mixed together. I've made an effort over the last few years to listen to these styles more. I love the blues because its straight, raw and to the point. It can be just guitar and vocals or a full band, but at the same time a 3 minute song can give the illusion that a lot has happened.
If you told me when I was a teenager that I would like country I would not have believed you, but I think it's the song writing that has drawn me in. With that being said I still can't pass up a rad sounding rock band.
"I've always connected a bit more with the untrained vocal..."
HMS: Tell us a bit about your gear. What guitars do you play and what do you play them through?
JM: For The Vendettas I keep it fairly basic. My gig rig is – Orange AD30, Les Paul gold top with '57 pickups & Gibson SG, Marshall Jackhammer & Big Muff pedals. I only really use the pedals for boost. I try to stick with a fairly clean crunchy tone from the amp.
For Evil Twin my gig rig is – Orange AD30 & Vox AC 30 run through a splitter. The Orange takes the low end and the Vox the highs, as it's a two piece I still want a complete sound. For guitars I use a Fender Jazzmaster and Fender Telecaster. I get a bit fancier with the effects I use a lot of fuzz, POG (poly octave generator) and some delays and verbs.
HMS: Other than The Vendettas and Evil Twin, are there any other great rock, metal or punk acts from down under that we in the western hemisphere should be checking out?
JM: Where do I start? I guess off the top of my head (in no particular order). There are always new ones popping up:
The Deep End
King of the North
The Devil Rock Four
The Bitter Sweet Kicks
My Left Boot
Dead City Ruins
AKF (Australian Kingswood Factory)
Dukes of Deliciousness
River of Snakes
I am sure there are another 50 that I've missed, we are spoilt here.
HMS: Thanks so much for chatting with us Jared. We're looking forward to the upcoming albums from both The Vendettas and Evil Twin!
Richard Leggatt, HMS