INTERVIEW

“ “I would describe myself as a shy extrovert if that makes sense?” At first glance, this comment just seems to be a complete contradiction. Yet if you spend any amount of time with its speaker, you will find out just how true contradictions can be. In fact Dave Matten, the frontman of Anger Management, […]

“I would describe myself as a shy extrovert if that makes sense?” At first glance, this comment just seems to be a complete contradiction. Yet if you spend any amount of time with its speaker, you will find out just how true contradictions can be. In fact Dave Matten, the frontman of Anger Management, is a living oxymoron. For many Dave may not conjure up the image of a frontman in a punk band. He is not like the ‘in your face’ punks of the 1970s but instead has the more subtle qualities of modern pioneers of the movement. He is more Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age than Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols, making him little too clean cut for the likes of Kate Moss.

His lifestyle is not exactly rock and roll either. He has been married to wife Rebecca since 1999, has two children (Phoebe, 7, and Joseph, 5), lives in a nice house in Sittingbourne, works hard and worries about his “knackered car and mortgage”. He also keeps chickens, although this could admittedly be a walk on the wild side with the threat of bird flu.

So what makes Dave roll and roll? It is not the piercings (you would have to know him very well in order to see those); it is something else that is not easy to see – the soul. He is a very deep individual with a punk rock attitude when it comes to his band. “Why can’t a band that standout be accepted? Just because we don’t want to peddle the same popular trash that other artists do doesn’t mean we’re not going to get accepted for being different. That’s what it’s all about, changing the way people perceive us and the music we play.”

Dave is not just the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Anger Management, he also writes the lyrics. “Song writing is a release. It helps me express things that I would otherwise be unable to say in polite society!” he explains. ‘Apathy’ has been singled out as his greatest lyrical achievement by fans and critics alike, which amuses Dave. “I was in a really bad mood when I wrote it and it all just seemed to come flooding out of me in a torrent of abuse against a section of society that really piss me off.” Now that is punk!

Anger Management are still fairly new to the music scene and formed through luck rather than longing. “Wardie and I met at work in 2004 and realised we had a mutual interest in good music. Wardie played the guitar already and realising that I had a mothballed Jackson guitar encouraged me to jam with him. I sucked big time, but he heard me sing and we decided to start a band. Wardie knew a bassist, Rich, but we didn’t find a stable drummer until February 2005, when we met Lee.”

Despite only being together this short time, Anger Management have progressed at pace. In September, they released their five track demo, ‘Pay the Piper’. The first single, ‘Apathy’, went straight to number one in the Top 100 Unsigned Bands chart. “It felt good,” recalls Dave, “even better when we stayed there for two weeks. The more exposure we get the more positive feedback we get, it really spurs the band on.”

Through music Dave has found his coping mechanism for life. “‘Anger Management’ sums up the band and all the music we write together. It’s my anger management, cheaper than years with a quack on a couch and probably better for me as well. I use music to calm me down, or in certain situations, psych me up for doing things I wouldn’t normally do. Since starting in the band I’ve found that playing and writing music is a massive release for the stresses of everyday life and rarely a day goes by when I don’t pick up the guitar for at least a few minutes and de-stress.”

Despite his predominately punk attitude as a frontman, Dave has a strange lack of confidence. “I like most of the songs I’ve written but find myself very critical of them. [It’s] Because they’re mine! I know why I wrote those words and what they mean to me, so if I’m not happy with it I’ll say what I feel. I like to get everything spot on, a perfectionist at heart.” It is because of this that many will take an interest in Dave as opposed to the rest of the band – he is the one with the answers. However, perhaps because he is so self-critical, Dave cannot stand being singled out from the rest of the band. “Although people see me as the frontman, we are a band and we all do our own thing to make the band stand out,” he says very seriously. “The first thing that people, who know us personally say to me after a gig is ‘I had no idea Wardie was like that!’ showing that they focus on the band as a whole rather than just on me.” Then, just when you think you have worked out a part of what Dave is about he adds, “But being the frontman is great for the ego, I love it.”

He is just as contradictory about performing live, although it is more understandable. “Being on stage is the best and worst experience at the same time”, he muses. “The nerves that I used to get leading up to a gig were awful but they seem to have calmed down a little bit. I love the rush I get during a gig that’s going well, especially when the crowd get into it. I’m buzzing for days after. But a bad sound check or house PA that doesn’t work can shoot that feeling away and the stage is a very lonely place to be when it isn’t going well.”

Right now, Anger Management are doing well. They are finishing new material for their next EP and subsequent album and selling as much of their merchandise as possible to fund their distribution. “I love where the band is at the moment,” Dave reflects, “but I really want to push it further too. We all dream of fame, fortune, acceptance, but really I just want to play music, the larger the crowd the better. If people are touched by just one of my lyrics then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.”

This moving sentiment seems to be the image of Dave that we are left with until he offers, “We sound better if you’re drunk‚” you can quote me on that.” A statement he seals with a wink before joining his band-mates on stage. Although it is a joke, it just adds to the enigma that surrounds him. “My lyrics are me,” he has said before, and maybe his music is the only way of piecing together who Dave Matten really is.

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