Liberteer – Matthew Widener
Interviewed By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
If you think you have a hefty workload, it’s probably not a patch on that of glutton for punishment Matthew Widener. Having already carved out a career in bands like Citizen and Cretin, he is now set to unleash his latest grindcore assault – one man project Liberteer. Taking a few spare minutes, Matthew gives Metal-Rules.com the lowdown…
It seems that Liberteer is the quintessential one-man-band – is it correct that you do all vocals and instruments yourself?
It’s a one man project and I’m responsible for all the stuff on the album.
How did this come about? Did you consciously choose not to go down the usual band path?
I always have a bunch of musical projects vying for my time, including my band Cretin, which has other band members. So I’m a busy guy. Doing some projects totally solo helps with scheduling and efficiency.
Also, I can be a control freak and when I’m not in the mood for collaboration I like to do everything myself. With Liberteer, since it’s a very political project, I think it’s best I do it all alone so the message is all me.
It’s an impressive load to take on having responsibility for everything – how have you found the experience?
I guess I’ve been playing this sort of music for a long time, going back to around 1990. Along the way I’ve learned how to do basic recordings and produce albums. So it’s not very hard for me anymore.
Looking at the industry in general, I’m sure many will find it refreshing to see opportunities out there even for the individual – has the market been more accepting than you expected?
The reception so far has been extremely positive. You know, these days there are plenty of opportunities for one man bands, what with digital technology helping with the production and distribution side of things. One man black metal bands have been bedroom recording for awhile now! I’ve done my other side project, The County Medical Examiners, for ten years, and that’s a one man effort as well.
You have actually been in a number of different bands in the past – has this sort of grindcore always been close to your heart though?
I love grindcore of all types. I come from a gory music background, playing in Exhumed and doing Carcass-worship, but Napalm Death and Terrorizer have always been favourites.
Your debut album ‘Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees’ is due to drop at the end of the month – how are you feeling at this time?
I feel strange. It’s always weird when you spend a lot of time making an album that no one has heard before, it feels almost private, and then you release it to the world and people evaluate it, talk about it, sometimes hate it. In a way I made this album because I heard it in my head and wanted to have something to actually listen to. I made it to please myself.
I hope other people find something to like in it but I’m not too concerned with playing to an audience. So with the album coming out soon, I guess it’s all sort of curious and funny to me, having these riffs in my head and now they’re on an album and people are talking about this. It’s surreal.
What sort of reception are you expecting/hoping for? Do you think this album is something people would expect from you?
I don’t think this album is anything anyone is expecting. My friends know I’m a bit unusual so they weren’t exactly surprised when they heard all the banjo but I don’t think they knew quite what to make of it at first either.
I have no idea what reception to expect. I always imagined it would be laughed at for awhile then it would fade into obscurity just as fast. I almost didn’t include the parade part of the album because I was too nervous at the last moment, then after I talked to some friends, Marissa Martinez and Matt Harvey, they convinced me everything sounded really unique and I should put it out.
Actually, about six months before I finished making the album, I was going to trash the album and just forget about it but my friends said that was silly. I’m glad I listened.
The album title is a strong statement in its own right, but what inspired you when writing it?
‘Better To Die On Your Feet..’ retains that fast and furious grindcore feel, but incorporates some more unusual elements such as the jaunty close of ‘Usurious Epitaph’ – was there anything really different that you consciously wanted to include?
None of it was too conscious, nothing was manufactured, as if I had a master plan. I just knew that every couple minutes I had to go into a part that was memorable so people wouldn’t get too bored by the constant blasting.
And some of those memorable instrumental parts were dark in nature, but many more used major keys, they are inspirational, even happy.
I wrote that parade part because I wanted a jubilant section that sounded like a celebration.
And what better way to do that than make a parade? So I was mostly going off of pure emotion in those parts. What should I be feeling at this part of the album? And then I’d write something to evoke that feeling.
Have you got any plans to take the album on the road at all? How will you translate this on stage, given that you do everything yourself?
I would have to recruit band members to take it on the road, I’ve thought about it… But it would take a lot of work. It’s not out of the question, though.
To be honest I’m not very fond of performing live music, I never have been, it’s nerve wracking for me, like public speaking or something.
My other band Cretin plays live occasionally and I know we will be this year, since we’re recording a new album and will support it with shows.
Have you given any thoughts to what lies beyond the album, or are you just taking some time now to relax?
I actually finished recording the album in January of 2011, so it’s been a year and I’ve already rested.
In the meantime I’ve been writing new songs for my band Cretin, and I’ve been recording a new album for an as of yet unnamed doom band. I’ve also been recording some classical music, mostly work for strings.
Whilst we count down the days till your own release, are there any upcoming albums that you’re personally looking forward to this year?
I’m waiting for the new Napalm Death. I think it’s going to be the release of the year.