Growing up in the extreme seasonal sways of Wisconsin can really help someone develop a sense of appreciation for things outside their own environment. Whether to help avoid either putting on five layers of cloths to battle extreme wind-chill or getting eaten alive by swarms of mosquitoes, it can also be an environment of great boredom or unconventional creativity. Paired with the amount of life this man has lived in his thirty- some years, his music is something much more contemplative...as if they were written by a ancient man.
At 16 to 18 years old, he was already playing sold out shows around Wisconsin with the band Hobnob. What they offered was a unique mix of quirky time-changes, tight instrumental texturing, unique lyrical content and soaring vocals, which counteracted the Glam and Country bands that were so prominent in the area. Hobnob made their way into the UW college radio circuit in the early and mid-90's and participated in MTV's 1994 Beach-House Band Search, placing 20th in the nation for originality. After graduating high school, Matt and the Hobnob crew made their way down to Madison, WI and expanded on their brand of genre bending music. In 1996 they recorded a second EP at the former Cactus Studio (in the basement of the now revered High Noon Saloon) with producer Ted Wiegel. Hobnob continued to play shows such as Okay'z Coral, Memorial Union Terrace. Matt and Brian Thorpe (singer) were solid collaborators at this point, writing and arranging generally all of the guitars and lyrics for their songs. But alas, they disbanded in 1996 and went their separate ways.
For the next few years, Matt continued to work at his musical growth. His focus has always been on improving his solo technique along with lyric writing abilities. He played hundreds of cafes, bars and open-mics across the whole state during this period.
After a brief Hobnob reunion in 2003, Matt and Brian Thorpe decided to collaborate once again in a new project called A Minute Jack Forum. They had set out to write original music, play shows and have fun doing it. The influence of Matt and Brian’s collaboration was prominent in AMJF's songs, with mixed genres, guitar play and interesting lyrics. With the help of David Leemkuil's songwriting abilities (Bass- formerly of Five Mile Ceiling) , it was even better. The difference from the earlier years is that these songs were refined with strong harmonies and even stronger song formats that were more straight-forward than in Hobnob. but still edgy and unique. His guitar work in this band was much like Hobnob... with quirky solos, strong rhythms and noisy note play that could sometimes be annoyingly charming.
At the end of 2007, Matt experienced a family tragedy that jarred him indefinitely. His brother had committed suicide with out warning. That would be the first in a string of tragedies through the end of 2008. His wife's father passed away in February of 2008, grandfather in August and Step-father in December, all unexpectedly. This lead Matt down a path of serious depression, isolation and heavy drinking that sent his personal life into a whirlwind of drama and troubling times.
Despite all the personal turmoil, Matt and AMJF pushed forward and in 2010, the album "Traction Blip" came to fruition. They had set out to initially record the album live; meaning all the track recorded at once in separate rooms. With very little time spent recording, the band had time to work on post-production with Landon Arkens, and really portray the band as it was live...all within the margins of their budget. The album received a good amount of attention. AMJF was in the top four nominees for "best rock album" at the Madison Area Music Awards. They played with bands such as Eastern Conference Champions, on stages such as The High Noon Saloon and Martyr's (Chicago). They also played Brat Fest, Steel Bridges Song Festival and Wurst Times Festival. There was great potential for musical success.
But amidst that potential in AMJF, Matt still had many ghosts to deal with and became somewhat estranged to the band. So he started to venture out again. He started to play with another band in the Milwaukee area called "The Maze" who was also getting great reviews and playing shows like Linneman's (Milwaukee) and benefit shows with great success. Their approach to writing was much more open, natural, and emotional, coinciding with what he had been doing outside of AMJF. And after a few short practices, Rob Hansen and the Maze were ready to gig with Matt in the line-up. They played a few shows together with great turn outs. But once again, after a short period, Matt found himself running from his ghosts. He left Both AMJF and The Maze.
In 2011, he was traveling a lot as a field machinist, distraught and exhausted from running from the constant ruin that was left back at home. Things were crumbling around him, and he was worn out. He was missing his kids with all the traveling. His mother was sick and so he decided to move back home to Wausau, WI after 16 years of being away.
Now from the heart of Wisconsin he has been reinventing himself musically, as a songwriter. Any successful background he may have had was mainly in collaboration with other musicians. But there, with a hopeful and aspiring songwriter who's songs are as unique as they are simple, a new success is being born. His roots are true Americana and his heart has felt many different emotions. His eyes have seen things you can't imagine. His lyrics are spoken from experience and the way he has seen the world around him. Words of heartbreak, tragedy and sleep-talking friends.