The first time I met Perth’s Matty T Wall was at Melbourne’s legendary and lamented Cherry Bar one Sunday afternoon.
As his band took to the sticky Cherry stage, it very soon became clear that Wall was a man who had a love for blues and hard rock in equal measure, with an almost uncanny ability to seamlessly mix the two beloved genres. He was also fortunate to have a killer rhythm section that played with a virtually telepathic sense of groove and dynamic.
Wall’s third release Transpacific Blues Volume One is a set of blues standards featuring a formidable group of contemporary guitar pickers from the U.S. - Kid Ramos, Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher and fellow West Australian Dave Hole. The choice of material and collaborators is a great fit with killer results. Artists who have recorded duets in the past can sound almost like a competition of who can play louder and faster (guitar players can be notorious gunslingers) however this a cohesive album that pays respect to the form and to the songs.
At this year’s Marysville Jazz and Blues Festival, Wall was a featured artist with three appearances and a guitar masterclass. Attendees certainly got their money’s worth listening to and learning from one of the best in the biz right now.
I managed to talk with Matty on the phone as he was in transit between Marysville and Tullamarine for the long trip back to Perth.
The new album is called Transpacific Blues Volume One, which suggests there may be a second volume in the works.
“Yes, that’s the plan” says Matty optimistically “I really would like to do an original album, with a Volume Two in between.”
“I had an idea that I wanted to do a blues covers album and get some Australian guitar players on board, but didn’t really hear back from anyone. I had a few contacts in the States and managed to get Kid Ramos on board, which is really cool, he’s got a great style, then thought why not try to get my favourite guitar player at the moment who is Eric Gales on the album? Once we got him, we were able to get Walter Trout and Dave Hole was involved from day one, so it turned out to be a US/ Australian thing and I liked the concept so that’s where the name came from.”
The concept of getting so many different artists in different countries on one album can be a daunting one. One can’t help but wonder about the recording process.
“Well, we recorded all the band tracks live in one morning “ states Matt rather modestly, “then I’d take my guitar parts out and email the MP3s’ to the various artists and they would play on the track with a few different passes of fills and solos and then send them back. Then I’d take what I liked and mix it with what I had recorded. “
So with the logistics of the project in place, Matty went on to explain how he decided to match the material stylistically with the different guest players on the album.
“I listened to what they’d done in the past and what style they’re known for. ‘High Heel Sneakers’ is obviously a Memphis tune, so Eric Gales was the perfect choice for that ‘cos it’s got a funk to it. If you’ve ever heard Eric Gales play a funk tune he shreds all over it. Kid Ramos has a real jump blues style so all the stuff he did was perfect. Same with Walter Trout, doing that grimy, bluesy shuffle on ‘She’s Into Something’ and Dave Hole can play John Lee Hooker boogie til the cows come home. That’s his thing. And hearing what Kirk Fletcher did on ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ was just perfect! “
Matty T Wall should be proud of what he has achieved. Transpacific Blues Volume One is a rockin’ blues album that at eight tracks and thirty five minutes doesn’t wear out its welcome and leaves you wanting more.
Transpacific Blues Volume One is out now via HipsterDumspter Records. Catch him at WAMFest and Bendigo Blues Festival this month.