Thursday, December 5, 2013

An interview with Matt Henson from Noi!se

As the year 2013 is coming to a close, I will say that this year has been really good to the  Street Punk and Oi! scene.  One of those bands hailing from that scene and Washington state are Noi!se, who started in 2009 and have become one of the best Oi! bands out there today.  I recently had the unique opportunity to talk to Matt Henson who is their bassist and lead vocalist.  Matt tells us about the adventures in Noi!se, the challenge of being in a band, having a family, and serving his country in the United States Army and much more!   If you haven't heard these guys yet, I highly suggest you pick up everything they have released on GMM records and enjoy what they have put out!  You will not regret it. Readers, I give you Matt Henson everybody!

Run Don't Walk: How are you doing today? For starters, why don't you give us a brief history of the band?

Matt: The band was started in late 2009 with Myself on bass and vocals, Nate on guitar and vocals, Justin on leads and Miko on drums. Later, Kenny would replace Miko and Jesse would replace Justin. We have been pretty much constantly engaged in either playing, recording or deploying since we began.

RDW: Thus far, what has been yours and/or the bands biggest accomplishment? What would like to eventually accomplish later on down the line? 

Matt: Nick, I have gotten to do things with this band I never would have dreamed of doing 5 years ago and it certainly is never lost on us just how lucky we are each time something amazing happens to us. There are really too many to just name just one, but I think certainly being asked to play the Rancid/ Cock Sparrer anniversary show would be one of the most incredible things for the band. For me, the greatest thing I have accomplished musically is making people feel something similar to the way music makes me feel. Music has gotten me through some of the worst times of my life and to even imagine that we are capable of doing that for someone else is an amazing feeling…and really what keeps us going. Seeing a vet out in the crowd with a prosthetic leg at the front of the pit, singing along to our music in Pomona CA is without exception the greatest experience I have had playing music…and one of the best of my life.

RDW: You guys have released recently a brand new track called "Rank and File" which is an amazing new song. What is the story behind it? 

Matt: I wrote Rank and File as a response to media’s portrayal of the government shut down, but I think the premise can be applied to just about anything the media reports. It seems to me as though the more readily available new media becomes, the more it gets used as a vehicle to polarize the recipients and push political agendas. People turn on the news or log on to get informed and instead are subjected to possibly the most biased reporting that has ever existed. I watch friends argue political issues feverishly, eventually reverting to name calling and wonder if either of them actually have the facts necessary to make a decision as to what side they’re on. I feel like they may not. I may (and hope that I am) wrong, but it would be a shame if people are choosing sides and polarizing themselves based on biased information.

RDW: Speaking of new material, what can we expect with the new tunes you guys have recorded with the Street Dogs split and how about with the upcoming full length, "The Scars We Hide"? 

Matt: I think we’ve tightened up a little bit. We’re certainly taking more time in the studio and really examining what we have before we record it. We’re always trying to make the sound better, but I think the day we stop doing that might be the time to just stop playing altogether.

RDW: I recently interviewed Mike from the Street Dogs and he mentioned you guys approached them for doing a split which is awesome (can't wait to hear the finished product!) What was the band's reaction when it started to be in the works of getting done? 

Matt: Being able to do a split with a band like the Street Dogs is simply an honor. When I got the text from Johnny saying it was a go I was absolutely thrilled….and then almost instantly worried we wouldn’t be able to hold our own on the record. When I told the rest of the guys, hoping their reaction would make me more confident, their reaction was the exact same as mine. Hopefully we don’t blow it. Either way….what an honor.

RDW: When Noi!se put out the artwork for "The Scars We Hide", I was floored about the artistic talent that went into it and the title is pretty universal, as well. What made you choose the title as is? Are there more personal subject matters on this upcoming full length compared to "This Is Who We Are", "Pushing On", etc? 

Matt: Nate and a buddy did the cover art for the new record.“The Scars We Hide” contains the most personal lyrics Nate and I have ever written. The title is taken from a song called “How We Made it Through” which is a song I wrote in recognition of all the people that stuck with me through some of the darker periods of my life. We wanted a cover that reflected the despair that we sometimes feel, not to remind people of the bad times themselves….but to remind them of the people and reasons they have to keep going through those times. We all have painful things we’ve experienced that has shaped who we are. I think the title of the record is kind of a suggestion that it’s a universal truth. Not something to be ashamed of.

RDW: Which bands has Noi!se played with so far that you have enjoyed playing with the most? Who would you like to play with?

Matt: Too many to name them all, but Rancid, Cock Sparrer, Transplants, Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, Pressure Point, Chosen Ones, Bishops Green, Hollowpoints, Broadisders, Old Firm Casuals, Death March, Lower Class Brats, Bigfoot Accelerator, Evil Conduct, Templars…dude, there are too man to name.

RDW: What are some bands that in the back of your mind that may be the cream of the crop in the Oi!, Street Punk scene right now? Who do you think is great but may not be getting the attention they deserve? Pirates Press Records from the Bay Area has been putting out some amazing bands I have noticed. 

Matt: Bishops Green, Chosen Few, Victory, Hard Evidence…..there are quite a few out there. Pirates Press has been doing their thing for quite a while now. It’s a great label with great people running it. It was awesome to have them put out Pushing On for us. They will also be releasing the Street Dogs split!

RDW: As much as Noi!se's loyal followers know, there are a couple members (including yourself) who serve in the military. First of all, thank you for serving. How do you manage the band, the military, family life and everything else in between? As many commitments as those are, you guys seem to deal with what is handed to you extremely well! 

Matt: It is more than a little bit hard to juggle the family, the band and the Army but I try to make it work. The real trick is doing all three without sacrificing performance in any area.

RDW: What was your opportunity to play with Rancid like? It must have been an amazing experience to play with such an influential band? I recently saw that photo of Matt Freeman wearing the bracelet your friend's son made for them. I think that shows a lot of character in the band that Rancid was more than happy to accept them (and those bracelets looked pretty awesome too). Talk about stand up musicians who remain true to their craft and followers! 

Matt: Last July was our second time playing with our friends in Rancid and the first playing with the Transplants. It was amazing. Lars and Rob are guys I consider brothers and just getting to hang out for a bit is great, but getting to watch them on stage is incredible. Both of those bands are so tight. I’ve been listening to Rancid for almost 20 years and Transplants for 10, so the opportunity to share the stage with them both was beyond belief. Both bands are comprised of true, down to earth people that have done nothing but positive things with their success.

RDW: What were some of the bands that got you interested in punk rock, hardcore, Oi!, the skinhead scene, etc? What major bands influenced your band today?

 Matt: Blitz, Stiff Little Fingers, Cock Sparrer, Anti-Heros, Menace, The Clash, Minor Threat, Toy Dolls, Rancid, Agnostic Front, The Business, H2O, Bad Brains, Kill Your Idols, Patriot, Timebomb 77, Terminus City (again) too many to name really.

RDW: With the Skinhead scene and lifestyle, how do you think it has changed over the years? Particularly with the response of social media, the internet, etc it has given it several different opinions from folks (some favorable and not so favorable) and even well before that too! What do you think the major changes have been overtime? What would you like to see change or it to go back to? 

Matt: Man, what a great question. The internet has definitely been a blessing and a curse to our (and virtually every other) scene. It’s amazing in that you have unlimited access to new music and like-minded people. It’s great because people can contact their favorite bands and order their merch so much easier than we had to via snail mail. I love hearing from people that like our music! ….but…It sucks in that has taken away the personal accountability that people in the scene used to have. When I was a kid, if you said something about someone eventually you had to account for it…usually at a show and it usually ended badly for at least one of the parties involved. The internet has turned every weak, shallow, unemployed kid living in their parent’s basement a tough as nails authority on everything from music to politics. Unfortunately, the same social traits that landed them in that basement are the same ones we get to enjoy seeping through in their critiques on life and their liberal use of insults that if made face to face would land the in the hospital if not worse. I don’t want to say that I wish it was like it used to be, because those words often get dismissed as those of someone who has become jaded and tired of the scene. I will say that I wish that everyone who talked shit online had to meet the object of their online garbage at a show….outside.

RDW: With 2013 coming to a close, what do you look forward to in 2014 and beyond? 

Spending some time with my family; Europe. Another full length; The East Coast; Those new Star Wars movies……and a few surprises I won’t mention just yet.

RDW: Any final words? 

Nick, thanks so much for the interview and thank you so much for what you’re doing for the scene with this blog. It’s so easy to log on and talk shit about the people who are actively trying to contribute. Trying to do something positive to enhance the scene is a hell of a lot harder. Respect.

Band Info:
Noi!se Offical Facebook Page
Machete MFG- Noi!se Merch
Shop Shogun- Noi!se Merch


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