Joe Matera is a talented Australian journalist and guitar player who interviewed many stars and great bands like amazing Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard and many many more. As a guitar player and musician Joe was played lead guitar in Australian rock band GEISHA from 2007 to 2010. He released a few singles as a solo artist and also he wrote the sound-track, “Starry Night” for an Australin movie “Ricky”. His debut EP, “Slave To The Fingers” was released in 2011 and it shows that he’s a talented musician aswell.
By releasing his debut EP, I had a good reason for interviewing him and believe me, Interviewing another journalist isn’t an easy task!
Hello Joe, How are you doing?
I’m doing well thank you.
When you did start playing guitar? And how did you choose this instrument?
I first started playing guitar at the age of 15. The first guitar I got was a cheap copy of a Les Paul which also came with a small guitar amp. I taught myself how to play, via books and learned by ear by playing along to my favorite record collection. Back then, there was no You Tube, transcription books or any decent instructional material available, so the only way to learn the instrument was to do it the hard way, and by trial and error. But it provided me with a solid foundation and one that holds me in good stead today. I chose the guitar because it was an instrument that my musical heroes played and it looked really cool at the same time too. Underlying all of that was the fact it was the instrument that spoke to my heart directly, and in turn it became a “voice” I could express myself with the best.
Who influenced you as a Guitar player and Musician in your career?
Initially it was seeing Ace Frehley (KISS) on the TV. This was around the period that the KISS album Dynasty was out. I watched the video to Sure Know Something one day on television, and seeing the larger than life image of Ace and his guitar playing and those amazing revolving lights on his Les Paul, hit a chord with me inside and I realized then, I wanted to do the same thing. Soon after that, I got my first guitar and then I started to get into all the bands that featured the guitar the most, everything from rock to pop to metal and from bands such as Van Halen to The Shadows to Blondie to Boston. I learned something from every guitarist and band I’ve ever listened to, as with all influences, what you listen to tends to seep into your playing subconsciously. I’ve always worn my influences proudly on my sleeve.
Can you tell us about the guitars and backlines that you use?
I use a signature model Haywire Joe Matera guitar, which was built for me by U.S guitar maker Rick Mariner who owns Haywire guitars. Its similar in style to Dave Gilmour’s Black Strat though very much built according to my playing and tone needs. Prior to this, I was playing an Epiphone guitar for many years, but have retired that from recording and performing and now the Haywire is my #1 guitar. It is the only guitar I used for my EP, Slave To The Fingers. I do have a couple of spare Fender Strats as back up though. My backline is and has always been for the past twenty years Laney. I currently use a Laney LV200 65 watt combo for all my recordings and live shows. I also have a Laney GH50L head and 4 x 12” cab that I used to use but now have only use on special occasions.
Let’s talk about your tales as a Journalist, How did it started? And do you remember what was your first article about?
I’ve also shared an interest in writing, but I only pursued it once I first connected to the internet in the late 1990s. In 1999, I started writing a few metal reviews for a US site and then later started writing for a now defunct Australian site. From there it was just a matter of time before I started writing for the print magazines. As my portfolio and reputation grew, the work increased, to the point where I have written for most of the major guitar magazines in the world and even have had my interviews syndicated to non-English speaking magazines as well. I do remember my first major article, it was in an Australian Guitar magazine with one of the biggest bands in the country at the time. My first major overseas piece was a review piece in UK’s Classic Rock magazine. Soon after that, I scored my first ever piece in Guitar World magazine in the US. I grew up on a diet of Guitar World magazines since the magazine’s inception back in 1980, and to finally see my name in print in the same magazine was very exciting.
You said somewhere that you spent time with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, would you tell us more about it? i think that must have been an influential meeting for you.
Yes, I have met Steve and Joe a number of times. Over the course of two days I spent some time with Steve once when he was here for G3 tour, observing his backstage preparations, soundcheck and dressing moments and of course his live show. The same with Joe Satriani, I spent time with him, interviewing him, watching him prepare for his show, before and after show moments and the actual show where I watched it from side of the stage. It was really interesting watching guitarists of their caliber prepare. The skill with their musicianship is mind blowing. If you think what they play live and on recording is amazing, the stuff they do pre-show is truly remarkable. Usually Steve closes the doors to his dressing room one hour before the show, and no one is allowed near him as he quietly prepares his mind and body for the show. It really showed me that being a “musician” involves not only the talent and skill, but also the perfect balancing of the mind-body-spirit in order to reach that level of musicianship.
You are a Solo artist and a journalist, would you tell me which of these paths do you think will be the main area you concentrate on in your future?
Playing the guitar has always been the first priority in my career and will always remain so until the day I exit this world. Before embarking on a solo career, I played in numerous bands from covers to originals, and in all styles, from metal to rock and even ethnic traditional music. I’ve had a diverse musical background. Now that I have embarked on a solo career, it will be the one I will be all putting my energies and focus into the most as I want work on developing it into a long, sustainable and successful path. The journalism has always been a side thing for me from day one, and will remain so. It’s something that has afforded me some amazing moments and connections and which has allowed me to forge some wonderful relationships and opportunities. I am feeling very prolific at the moment in regards to writing new material, recording it and releasing it, and there will be much more stuff coming from me in future. In fact playing the guitar and performing on stage has been the thing I’ve done the most of and the longest in my life, followed by teaching guitar and then the journalism. Also I’ll be also contributing guitar to numerous other musicals projects in 2012 that are currently in the pipeline, so aside from my instrumental music, there will be other projects – including band projects – released in future featuring my guitar work.
You released an EP, “Slave To The Fingers”, in 2011, it seems you mixed some classical guitar elements with Rock and Roll and also I can see some Joe Satriani themes in them, would you tell us more about it?
As I mentioned earlier, influences from everything a musician listens will eventually seep into one’s music. It is a very good observation that you notice the classical elements. Many years ago, I studied the great composers as part of my music theory certification. Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor was one of the pieces I enjoyed studying in-depth. Strangely enough one of my favorite keys in composing music and playing guitar is B minor, so I suppose that influence has seeped into my own music subconsciously. As for Satriani, I have always had great respect for the man, his music is highly skilled and melodic, and over the years I have taught a number of guitar students the style of Satriani. For me Satriani represented the height of guitar instrumental music acceptance into the mainstream and something that I as an instrumental artist would like to see guitar instrumental music reclaim its crown as music that is both interesting, exciting, inspiring and enjoyable and a genre that is worthy of respect and success. I loved the way Satriani would work his theme’s melodically so I have taken that similar approach somewhat with my own music.
And can you tell me what feedback you have had from the fans about that EP? And feel free to tell us about your upcoming shows and tours.
The feedback so far from the fans has been overwhelming positive and encouraging. Treading a path of instrumental music is not a usual path in music, so to achieve a level of recognition and support from the fans is both humbling and inspiring. I’m so excited to have this release out there and just hope that many other people and fans of music will enjoy it as well. As for live shows, I am in the planning stages of putting together some live shows for 2012, most likely these will be with a couple of other artists in the similar genre. I have done a number of acoustic performances this year as part of the promotional process, where I play solo acoustic versions of my tracks, but the live shows I want to have a complete band with me so I can perform the material the way fans hear it on my recordings. Also I have dreams of some day playing to my overseas fans, I have numerous asking me if there are any shows coming up there. If some promoter comes to me and offers to bank roll a tour, then I’ll be there without a second thought.
How do you see yourself 20 years from now?
I see myself still doing what I am doing now though hopefully by then, I would have accumulated a larger body of recorded and released work to my name. Playing the guitar energizes me, makes me feel alive so no matter how old I get, as soon as I strap on the guitar, I will feel young again.
For your final words, please feel free to send a message to your fans.
To my all my fans everywhere I just want to say thank you for being interested in my music and for enjoying my music, I hope it brings you much enjoyment and inspiration. I want to also say a big thank you to them all for the continued support they give, after all, as any artist will tell you, without the fans one is nothing. So thank you. And please visit my website www.joematera.com to keep up to date with what I am doing.
Thanks Joe, Wish you all the best.
Thank you Mohsen and thank you for the interest in my music and the interview.
Interview by Mohsen Fayyazi