KILL MATILDA

Kill Matilda is another of these hidden Canadian treasures that just keep popping up in front of me. Interview answered by Dusty – vocalist / guitarist. Anders Ekdahl ©2011

Why does Matilda have to die?
-“Matilda” is the codename for the virus that’s creating the plague of zombieism that we’re seeing on the rise across Canada today. We have been charged with the mission of taking out this undead threat from coast to coast with our rock and roll and our expert know-how. If Matilda is allowed to live and flourish, we’ll soon all be mindless, flesh-eating freaks with gaping wounds and rotting limbs… which is not very sexy.

How did the band come to life and what was it that you set out to do with the band when you formed?
-Matilda was a joint project between myself (Dusty Exner) and Marlene Lau originally. We brought Mykel in on bass and the band began to really take shape as a project. Our goal was to create hard-hitting, female-fronted rock music, because we really weren’t hearing much of it out there on the radio, on MuchMusic, or anywhere. For Marlene and I, putting out sounds by women is so important in a traditionally male-dominated field (hard rock/punk music). However, after Marlene was killed in a tragic zombie-related incident, we added the additional goal of seeking revenge on every mother fucker who stood in our way, alive or undead. That’s where Mykel comes in; he’s our Consultant in Rageaholism.

How important is it for a new band that you have others to look up to? What was it that influenced you in the beginning and how has those influences changed with time?
-I believe that what you can see and experience in your culture influences the possible choices around you. If you’re a woman and you see NO women rocking, sweating, swearing and getting in the pit… very few women will consider these to be valid behavioural choices. On a larger scale, we’re concerned about how tame rock music has become – people are afraid to speak out, be controversial, and to really rock hard, and we want to bring that edge back to rock music. The days of Black Flag may be gone but we’re not afraid to say exactly what we think onstage and behave as we see fit. Because of that, we wanted to create a kind of band that would be an influence for others – for our fans, especially the girls. In the beginning I would say we were influenced by our LACK of influences (not musically of course – we have tons of musical influences, but as a band there were very few to take direction from). Now that we’re making progress and we’re on the scene, the scene is also changing around us. We’ve got great bands out there like Die Mannequin making headway for women in rock, and we’re refining our stage show, our sound and our attitudes a lot. For that, we look to historical examples in music to help guide us and help us make informed decisions – what would Freddy Mercury do? What would Henry Rollins do? What would Jerry Only do?

To my ears you have the crossover potential to appeal to all people into hard music. How do you make the most of it in order to reach all those who’d like the band?
-Music videos. Multimedia. The music video is one of our strongest tools – we put up a lot of content on Youtube, whether it’s videos made by our fans at a live show, tour videos, whatever we can.We also have a wide variety of sounds so we can tailor our set to meet the needs and the attitude of our crowds. At time we play for super crusty hardcore punks, and at others we’re opening up for a DJ in a club where they tell us “we don’t want too much hard rock”. We have to be chameleons in the kind of stage banter and tone we set to make sure that our fans and consumers enjoy their time with Kill Matilda, and we like that. We’re multifaceted as people and as musicians, so sometimes it’s nice to be a little more rock one night, a little more metal the next.

When I say that the greatest punk/metal comes from Europe or the US what do you say to that?
-I would say don’t forget about DOA, Propagandhi and Skinny Puppy. We have some amazing emerging talent in Canadian metal too, like Cancer Bats and Endast…but I wouldn’t argue with your statement either.
How important is the DIY-ethic to Kill Matilda? What is the best V/S the worst with DIY?
We have a very emotional tie to the DIY ethic because for us as a Vancouver band in the West Coast scene (where we started), we found that the bands with the most money got ahead the fastest because they could buy their way there. As poor kids, we had to do everything ourselves, but because of that, we learned faster and we got harder as people and as musicians. In the end it’s what helped us to get on MuchMusic, to get gigs opening for big name bands.. it’s our work ethic. It represents where we came from and how we got here. At a certain point, however, if you want to keep making progress and breaking into a more commercial scene, you have to start relying on outside help because there’s simply too much to do and to keep track of. These days we rely on a few close, trusted individuals – such as our publicist and the guy who makes our T-shirts- but 90% of what we do is still DIY, from mailing out CDs and shirts to updating our website, planning our shows, and of course, loading gear.

To me Canada seem like a hard place to tour. You got your major cities all crammed into specific areas of the country and then there are tons of rural, smaller cities scattered over the rest of the country. How the hell do you plan a tour in order to cover all the potential gig goers?
-Canada is a hard place to tour. It’s not for the faint of heart. You can never hit everywhere because the geographical layout prevents you from being able to play the best show in the best place on the best night. Some smaller towns and cities, you just can’t play on a Tuesday or Wednesday, so it necessitates being picky and choosy. The great thing is that some of the best scenes in Canada are in the smaller cities. We’ve had our best shows and our strongest supporters not in the three major metropolises, but in the towns of less than 100,000 people. There are enough places in Canada to play a show nearly every night, but at times we’ve spent the whole day pulling a 10 hour drive to get from point A to point B. Our longest drive was 18 hours in one stretch. The better the tour planning and prep time, the fewer long drives you pull, but it’s definitely not easy. That’s what I like about it though – it’s a challenge to do it and to do it well!

With the US just south of the border is that the place to look to for all kinds of inspiration/motivation? Can you draw from the fact that you are Canadians and that most Americans either have a positive image of Canadians or no image at all?
-Being Canadian isn’t an advantage at all, I’d say. America is so vast, they have tons of their own indie bands to pick up on, we’re really not on the map at all. Beginning to break into the American market is a big task, not something to be taken lightly. For starters, the laws surrounding allowing musicians across the borders are complex and to do it (legally) is very expensive, so there are some realistic financial and political barriers for Canadian bands. At this point we haven’t begun to think or act on the American market at all, because we still have a lot of ground to cover in Canada and a lot of potential to grow our fanbases here at home, without having to worry about expensive P2 visas or having our shit confiscated at the border. We dream and talk about going to the states, but for us it will have to be a coordinated, motivated blitzkrieg when we have the time and the resources so that we can really make an impact – doing it wrong, or without organization, you’ll just be a fart in a windstorm as some no-name Canadian band. We need strategy. Before we hit the states, we would rather do Europe- that’s our next big hurrah.

What is Canadian radio like? Do they just play the same old crap or are they prone to thinking outside the box? How much exposure can you expect to get from mainstream media?
-Same old crap. In fact, Canada has a plethora of wonderful female-fronted bands but you can listen to the radio for hours and hours without hearing a single female rock artist. There are a few exceptions – the Calgary rock station X929 has a “No Nickleback guarantee” – but most commercial radio is only concerned with their own profit, and as such, you can quite literally hear the same ten songs on a half hour rotation. That being said, Canadian campus radio is a wonderful and varied community of music supporters who have given us a lot of love and support, and the Canadian government actually regulates a certain amount of Canadian and Female content that each DJ must honor within their set, so that’s a big boon for us.

With new technology a change in the way you promote your band has occurred. What new channels do you use and how do you use them to your advantage?
-All of them – the more places you can find Kill Matilda, the better. Twitter and Facebook are definitely the biggest ones, because they allow us to have one on one, personal interaction with our fans, which is the bread and butter for us. We know a lot of our fans by names and they keep coming back for more.

If you were to predict the future of Kill Matilda what do you see in your crystal ball?
-touring, touring, touring.

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