8 Questions with guitar master Matt Eaton

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Welcome to another edition of “8 Questions with….”,an ongoing interactive interview series with excellent and creative folks who inhabit my MySpace page.

Way back when I first started this series, I had some hit and misses with my invites to folks to talk. While I sent out many interview requests, it was hard getting folks to agree to talk with me. I had a lot of “who are you again”? and “why do you want to interview me”? and in Matt Eaton’s case…I got crickets. But as the series has grown and level of interviews have gotten stronger, I haven’t forgotten those wanted I wanted to talk with in the beginning….like Matt Eaton.

Matt is a guitar player from Texas…his playing is at a different level then most. Taking a look at his Top Friend’s page and you can see where he wants to be. He has all the masters of the guitar listed as friends…Steve Vai, Larry Carlton and Carlos Santana are among his friends. Listening to his 3 songs Matt has listed on his page and you can how much love and ability the man has. Like I have mentioned before,many times I will go to a musician’s page and let the music play as a background as I write my blog or a article for someone else. Matt is one of my favorites to play when I do this.

So while you’re reading this interview,crack open another window,bring up Matt’s page and rock out a bit while discover a little bit about the man behind the guitar. Then perhaps add him as a pal…

And now,8 Questions with……………guitarist Matt Eaton.

comments and new subscribers are always welcome!

What drives you to make music?

ME: I think that every person is born with music in his or her very spirit. The Bible states that…before the firmament around the atmosphere shattered and fell…you could hear the stars singing. Scientifically…that would be possible…the firmament being a thin globe of crystal ice around the planet several miles above the surface. Every star in the heavens emits a radio wave frequency. To have been able to hears the heavens’ chorus must have been amazing! I believe that a person’s spirit also resonates at a certain frequency. We each have our own frequency with which we feel most spiritually comfortable. I know that this may sounds bizarre…to some. Recently…I learned that John McLaughlin has studied this and believes this as well.

Some people never have the opportunity to cultivate that. Some just don’t wish to…for whatever reason. I was just fortunate enough to be able to follow that and let my spirit harmonize with the frequency that I felt in me.

So…it’s not really a matter of something ‘driving me’ to make music. It is more that I am attempting to exist in harmony with my correct frequency. Of course…many things in life can interfere with that. For many of us the most obtrusive being the ‘day job’…ha-ha.

Do you have a routine before playing a live show, if so, what is it?

ME: Other than making sure that my nails are cut way short…let’s see…I usually make sure that I greet the person(s) doing sound and discuss things. As far as what I personally do for pre-show routine; I make sure I am drinking plenty of water but usually do not eat anything heavy. I’ll maybe have a protein bar or bag of peanuts with an orange juice. Of course…I tune my guitars…and then stretch my forearms then each finger separately. Sometimes I massage my fingers each in turn. Always remove my shoes…and then usually pray. I cannot play as well at all with shoes on. (Or live as well with them on…for that matter. I HATE shoes.) If I have enough time…I will light incense. Some venues prefer that you don’t. That’s fine.

What is the biggest difference between instrumental music and a band besides not having
vocals?

ME: The freedom. When you have vocals…the music then becomes structured for the vocals or lyrics. Not always…but that is the norm. Instrumental music is freedom to move around or break into a new direction at any point without having looks from a member who is now standing center stage wondering what the rest of the band is doing…ha-ha.

Also…the challenge in instrumental music is to relate the same emotion through the music…but without lyrics. This leaves the listener free to create the lyrical pictures using his/her own imagination. To me…it becomes more personal when the listener can relate whatever the musical emotion is to his/her own imagination or circumstance.

What makes you happier, playing live or teaching a new student?

ME: Definitely playing live…although I’m not playing live much these days either. Kind of laying low for a while and piecing together a home studio, which is taking forever! I do not have students at the moment.

What 3 guitar players influenced you the most and how so?

ME: Only three!?! Hmmm. I guess I should relate this to when I was first learning to play. (40 years ago) I won’t be able to keep it to just 3 though…ha-ha…sorry.

Carlos Santana was the first guitarist that I remember hearing whose playing ignited my desire to seriously learn how to play the instrument. Before that, I was just ‘air guitaring’ like every other kid and plunking along by ear with records. It was his tone and the way he added a bit of jazzy stuff in there…it just resonated in my spirit. Still does.

Hendrix of course. What could I say that hasn’t been said? Passion.

Frank Marino has always been a great influence. Not many players even knew who he was when I started listening to Mahogany Rush way back when. His energy is still fantastic. I saw him play a few months ago and he jammed for 3 straight hours! Only did 3 or 4 actual songs in that whole time. The rest was just jamming! Just fantastic!

Ritchie Blackmore. I read an interview with him in Guitar Player Magazine way back in the 70’s in which he talked about the mathematics of the fretboard . He also spoke about a simple little something that…when I put into practice…totally opened up my playing and gave me so much more speed that I could not believe I had been missing it. He said to ‘use your little finger.’ Since then…I have noticed how many guitarists…even really good ones…just leave that little finger hanging out there in space and only use it for special occasions.

Michael Schenker was a big influence as far as trying to learn to be more ‘stylish’ in my playing…as well as Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin. Of course when EVH hit…all jaws were on the floor…ha-ha.

There were and are so many others. It changes from year to year and grows. You can see them in my MySpace friends.

Does your town have a good/bad music scene? What makes it that way?

ME: That depends on personal opinion really…and on what you like. In Dallas/Ft Worth…if you play blues…you’re in…although it’s pretty much a clique that you have to be accepted into once you prove yourself to be ‘worthy’…ha. If you play country…you can play pretty much anywhere.

There seems to be a trend toward ‘tribute’ bands that is becoming quite nauseating to many artists in D/FW. I think it may be just an inspiration issue…or lack of inspiration. (?) There are a few pretty good ones though…actually. There is still a hidden metal scene…although the venues have dwindled down to very few that will accept metal…especially original stuff. I went to a Nightwish concert in Dallas a while back that affirmed to me that the fans are still there. More to blame than anything for a lack-luster music scene in D/FW or in Texas period…are the lame excuses for radio stations here. Not one (even if they say they do) plays any new music in rotation from any artist who is still doing metal. (Excuse me…but AC/DC is getting old…and they are just ‘rock’ anyway.) If you hear an actual metal song on the radio…it will be from 1985. HELLO…they are still making new music. Why aren’t you playing the music they are making now? Oldies-oldies-oldies. Crap-crap-crap. There is no good metal radio here. It is all sold-out, corporate crap. (Do I sound bitter? Ha-ha) Yet…there are a couple of promoters/venues that are bringing great metal shows to D/FW.

As far as instrumental guitar music…that has always been hard to sell to venues. You usually have to take an opener slot…which is fine with me because I can take my time setting up…preparing and getting familiar with the atmosphere of the venue. The older you get…the less you like to be hurried…ha-ha.

Why do you think people are buying less music today then ever before?

ME: See answer above regarding radio. There are other factors for sure. Internet has totally changed things…and the free downloading and sharing of music (pirating) is making it next to impossible for non major label artists to make a living at it. This is destroying the motivation of many artists to even release music anymore. More importantly…it destroys the income that allows an independent artist to afford to record the music in a professional manner or bring good shows to our cities. One CD is sold. That person makes 6 copies for friends who don’t pay a thing for it. The artist just was cheated out of 6 sales that may have paid the water bill that month. More free downloads=less artist revenue=less music available=higher prices…etc. Which brings us to the next question.

Major concerts are highly overpriced; many shows haven’t even come close to selling out…what would you do to fix this problem?

ME: I’m not really sure that anyone can ‘fix the problem’ at this point. IMHO…I have to say that…many shows would sell out if promoters and radio stations would support the artists by advertising the concerts…but radio stations seem to have ‘sold out’ and most promoters are barely able to afford to pay the venue rental…insurance…permits…licensing fees…etc.

Ticket sales seem high because the artists have to be able to make enough money to pay for travel…equipment…union help…food…costuming…set decoration…sound…lights…and of the the $40 and $50 t-shirt price…the artist only gets a small portion. If you are independent…you can come out a lot better on the merchandise sales…CD sales…etc…but venues and promoters have their expenses as well.

I don’t think that there really is ‘a fix’ for the way things are going. I do think that it is best to remain as independent and in control of your own art and direction as possible.

How has MySpace helped you the most?

ME: Exposure to the rest of the world in a way that would not or could not happen by simply placing a website out there. MySpace is a community of people looking to network…for many reasons other than music as well…but music being the main focus I think. I have found many wonderful progressive power metal bands that I did not know existed. I have found many new age and jazz artists that I had never heard. I have also found old friends from the past and new friends around the world. For all of the bad publicity that MySpace has been subject to…I think it was and is a wonderful idea.

To add Matt Eaton as a friend:
www.myspace.com/matteatonguitar

By Michael Sullivan