Behind the Beat: A Life in Sound, Part One

Multi-instrumentalist Matt Weston is a hard guy to pin down. One night you might see him ripping guitar riffs for Thrillpillow, and the next he might be scraping cymbals solo or with experimental outfit Barn Owl. He’s worked with legends like composer Bill Dixon and experimental artist Kevin Drumm, and plenty of talented folks in between. The longtime Northamptonite recently moved to Albany, but makes his way back to the Valley often to collaborate and create.

Weston celebrates the release of his latest offering, The Last Of The Six-Cylinders, Nov. 6 at Flywheel, in a show that also features Ben Miller. In advance of his return, he discussed his new CD, revenge, and Aldous Huxley.

Valley Advocate: When did you first get into music?

Matt Weston: I can’t think of any point at which there wasn’t music and then suddenly there was. I started playing drums when I was 8, bass guitar at 12, and guitar at 13, but before I played drums, I played air drums and tennis-racket guitar. And still managed to get complaints from the neighbors. Am I right, people? Is this thing on?

Who are some of your formative influences?

The first records I ever heard were The Beatles’ second album and the Count Basie Trio’s For the First Time. That’s about as ideal a foundation as anyone could hope for, and they led directly to the Who, James Brown, Green, John Coltrane, Pierre Henry, Keiji Haino and Bill Dixon.

Could you tell me a little about Ben Miller and the upcoming Flywheel show?

Ben and I started playing as a duo when we both lived in Chicago in the late ’90s. He’s got an amazing history (and present and future), having been a member of legendary Ann Arbor band Destroy All Monsters. We reconnected a few years ago when we both realized we are now on the East Coast. We’ve done a bunch of shows as a duo, and one with his brother Roger (from Mission of Burma) which resulted in a recording called Post-Out. I love his approach to guitar and electronics, and it’s always fascinating to see how it evolves.

What is your approach to your solo work?

Revenge, mostly. Smiting my enemies. An alternative to breaking into/vandalizing their cars.

What about your approach to experimentation or improvisation?

I don’t consciously approach it as experimentation or improvisation. Every musician, everywhere, ever, is always experimenting and improvising, if it means putting the amp in a different place or just playing at a different time of day. All music is experimental and improvised.

Matt Weston and Ben Miller play Flywheel in Easthampton Saturday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. For more info, visit

Author: Matthew Dube

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