Update: You can read another variation of this interview on my E!Online post
When wanting to discuss the current state of live music in Vancouver who better to turn to than a homegrown independent band fresh off a cross-country tour. Matt Layzell, lead vocalist and songwriter for The Matinee, met with me in what is known as the city’s entertainment district to talk about being a musician in town these days.
Matt has been in a part of various local bands for the last 10 years, and formed The Matinee in 2007. “Everybody in our band is a writer and a singer,” Matt noted explaining the individual talent of each of the six full time members. Each of them got together after spending years playing with various other acts around town.
The Matinee are: Matthew Layzell – Vocals, Matthew Rose – Lead Guitar, Mandolin, & Vocals Pete Lemon – Drums, Vox Mike Young – Electric Bass, Upright Bass, and Vocals Geoff Petrie – Guitars, Percussion, and Vocals Dave Young – Keys, Organ Rocky Jr – Harmonica
“In Vancouver there’s a great metal scene, a good skater punk scene that will always be around, and even in our genre – being roots/alt rock, there’s a distinct scene.” Playing live shows is an essential part of having a career in music as well as reaching out to your current and hopefully new fans as well.
However with disappearing live venues, it’s an uphill battle in Vancouver for most independent artists to find some time on stage. “Richards on Richards is going to be closing, the Plaza Club will be having their last Rock Thursday night as well.” Matt mentioned that there are a few mainstays such as the Railway Club and Media Club and that artists are now finding their way back to East Vancouver, just on the edge of downtown, where Vancouver’s punk and grunge scene took form decades ago.
“Pat’s Pub is doing a lot of shows and people are becoming less afraid to go into the Downtown Eastside,” an area that up until recently was deemed Canada’s poorest postal code. With being such a rich part of Vancouver’s musical history, locals shouldn’t be afraid to venture past Main street to listen in and participate in some great live shows.
With physical venues seemingly struggling, artists are still finding their stride in the online realm. “With things like iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, and music sharing sites, your audience just grows exponentially.” Proof of this is how Matt also mentioned that their biggest draw on this recent tour was a long way from home, in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Things are looking up for The Matinee as Matt has an optimistic outlook for the future. “For the next album we’re looking at getting distribution outside of our own label [Blue Collar Records].” The next step goes back to playing live shows. “Getting support acts for touring with other bands will help get our name out there. We’re really now good at doing our own tours, but that can only go so far, you need someone to step in and help you get more exposure.”
And worry not about disappearing venues in Vancouver, “People are coming around to live music again,” as Matt reassured. “It goes in cycles; the clubs took over for quite a while but with the current economic climate people have a lot less money to spend – they’re looking for affordable entertainment as a distraction from being at home and focusing on dwindling investments.”
Heading out to concerts in warehouses, skate shops, clubs, and galleries will become more popular again, especially looking at ticket prices for some of the shows at big venues like GM Place or BC Place where getting a spot in the ‘cheap seats’ could still cost 3-figures.
If he could play only one place in town, Matt said the Commodore is his local dream. The legendary ballroom is a mid-sized venue has a capacity of about 1,100 yet it’s history is the draw as it’s the quintessential Vancouver venue.
You can read another variation of this interview on my E!Online post and if you have any Vancouver entertainment stories, cool bands to introduce, films or must-see theatre experiences, please feel free to contact me.