A Personal Influence

When a lot of musicians or bands discuss influences, they’re usually talking about other bands, songs, and sounds that they enjoy. Those influences in turn help shape their own sound. Consider though that they have other types of influences that go beyond shaping tonality, but aren’t as easily discernible as the sonic makeup of a song. Perhaps there are other motivational forces that keep these musicians or bands creating music in the first place.

I met Matt Hanemann in May-ish 2008. We met at, of all places, a small vintage BMX bicycle collectors gathering in north New Jersey, a hobby we both enjoy. Matt has a highly honed eye for detail and the incredible talent to put chromoly and rubber components together into two-wheeled creations that are nothing short of art. He’s not a half bad freestyle rider either.

Other than that one thing in common, we have very different lifestyles. Matt’s a bachelor (though he has a wonderful, fun loving, extremely supportive, long time girlfriend) living in the heart of Philly, and I’m a husband and father of 3 living in suburbia. Despite our lifestyle differences, I’ve somehow managed to become good friends with Matt over the last four years. I don’t remember exactly when I discovered that Matt played guitar, but I know it’s a big part of the reason we have become friends. It helps that I met Matt at a time when I was just starting to reconnect with Jimmy Cass and starting to get serious about playing guitar after a very long time of not being serious about it.

Matt, whether he realizes it or not, has been a big influence on me these past few years that Jim and I have been working on the old Fortress music. His work ethic is inspirational. He works hard at his day job in the graphical arts world, and plays even harder at his extracurriculars. He just doesn’t quit and goes balls out in everything that he does.

He’s almost single-handedly opened my eyes to new worlds of sound – particularly the worlds on the outer edges of the realm of grunge. I missed most of the hardcore movement of the late 80’s (I was actually big into East Coast Hip Hop at the time), and had my blinders on when I was yanked into grunge fan-dom by the likes of Alice In Chains and Nirvana. He’s pushed me headstrong into the sounds of Sonic Youth, Bob Mould, and Dinosaur Jr, bands and artists who I had vague knowledge of, but never really paid any mind to. I’d certainly not really pay much attention to modern indie if it wasn’t for Matt and the sonic bliss that is his long time band Metroplex.

Matt told me about a new project he was working on about five or six months ago. Through an acquaintance he had made in the Philly club scene, he began writing with a drummer while Metroplex was on a brief hiatus. It was in just a matter of weeks that Matt was giving me sneak peeks of rough cuts of his soon to be new band’s music. It wasn’t too much longer after those initial cuts that it was all starting to take shape. He started sending me rehearsal recordings that damn near could have been considered complete demos created entirely by him and his new drummer.

About a week or so ago, I was made privvy to the new band’s name. I can now only describe Belgrade’s beginnings as bluntly intentional. The band will open their first show in just a few short weeks for the likes of The Jealous Sound. Matt does nothing half-assed. I hope the rest of the band is ready for the ride!

I will be in that audience on February 16th and guarantee you, I will be driven to write something new or dive headstrong into a recording in dire need of completion the very next day. Well, I may need to wait until the hangover subsides, but after that, I’ll be amped to pick up my guitar and throw down some music. Thanks Matt.


Metroplex – www.metroplex3.com

Belgrade – www.facebook.com/pages/Belgrade/245344428838305

**Quick update (3/1/12) – Belgrade is working on a new website to be hosted here: http://www.belgradeband.com/. The track playing on site placeholder as of today is “Warehouse Cassette.” This is one of the “sneak peek” recordings that I mentioned in the article that Matt sent me very early on. Have a listen. Lo-fi awesomeness.


~ by fortressradio on February 11, 2012.

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