By Keith CarmanIt's taken 14 years for London, ON natives the Matadors to fine-tune their horrorbilly attack. However, while some might argue their potential to claim the throne as Canada's Reverend Horton Heat-ish boogie kings - strongly influenced by punk, mind you - fourth full-length effort Sweet Revenge proves them to be dusting off the throne and trying it on for size. Embracing/showcasing their swing and rockabilly roots even further, the band seem to have reached their full musical potential on this outing, nailing the laidback subtleties and intricacies that enduring music of this genre requires. Upbeat, swaggering and wily, there are plenty of melodic hooks and crafty instrumentation within, bolstered by what could possibly be the Matadors' best production values to date. Crisp and hearty, Sweet Revenge takes full advantage of the aural spectrum. That said, while the album is technically solid there is certainly room for improvement lyrically. Steeped in potty humour and brashness that emits awkward smiles of embarrassment more for the thought of a mature adult in fine threads stooping to such levels, it leaves something to be desired. In the future, one anticipates the Matadors' subject matter will eventually match the gracefulness of their musicianship.
The title Sweet Revenge seems rather pointed. Who's it directed at? Joel "Hooch" Parkins: I had a tough two years getting this record together so, [it's] kinda me pissing the faces of those who have shat on me during that period. I had my long time bass player turn out to be a total douche bag, my old record company hung me out to dry and I had some good friends go bad. Not to mention all the naysayers and shit talkers that the Matadors had to contend with during the whole debacle.
If it were not for my faith in Lucifer, I'd hate to think what might have happened to me. There were days where I didn't feel like looking at a guitar let alone playing one but I toughed it out... stiff upper lip and all that, ya know? And I got it done and it's fucking amazing. Some are calling it the "greatest example of recorded western music in the history of all humanity." Now, I may have made that up but I firmly believe that this record will change your life.
Looking through the credits, you seem to be the mainstay of the band on this recording. What brought that about? Yes, I am the mainstay of the Matadors and always have been. The Matadors have had six bass players and 27 drummers in (our) 14-year history. The reason for this is I am actually in league with Lucifer. That is to say, I sold my soul to the Devil in return for superhuman ability to play the guitar and [have] complete control over any audience. It scares people.
Also, it's hard to be in a band with someone like me. I cast an enormous shadow for someone who is only four-foot-11 but it's tough on some. Most members quit out of either fear of Lucifer or because they feel intimidated or threatened by me... or because I've actually threatened them physically. To sum up: people are weak and I break them.
How does having that leadership simplify the Matadors in terms of writing? Well, the writing process is easy really. All I have to do is sit very still and then I go into sort of an Edgar Cayce-style trance. Then the music just comes sort of all at once just like tuning in a radio. I automatically write it all down in notation form and viola! New album! When I made my "crossroads" deal in 1995, I was bestowed with this and other awesome powers. So far it's working out great!
How about in a performance aspect? Currently, I have a phenomenal band with Jason Westman on drums and Danny Deville on bass. These two fellows know their shit and they are truly motherfuckers in the Frank Zappa sense of the word.
How does running the show alone complicate or hamper things? Really it doesn't complicate things at all. I mean the Matadors is an institution the world over. The Matadors in this current era are the very reason kids started greasing their hair again, cutting those ridiculous Betty Page bangs, getting traditional tattoos and becoming the roots rock weirdos you see today.
You see, not since the dawn of rock'n'roll have kids seen actual rock'n'roll until the Matadors came along to save it from extinction. Look around Canada right now; go ask any random rockabilly guy or gal on the street who the greatest horrorbilly band of all time is. They will tell you it's the Matadors and then they will involuntarily orgasm just by saying our names.
In the liner notes, you seem to reference a lot of setbacks in getting the album out. Is this true? What were they? The setbacks were [so] plentiful I don't know where to start... Firstly, I was personally, and the Matadors itself were stabbed in the back by a band we took under our wing and gave a leg up to. So that was a kick in the nuts. Then I found out that a person I had working for me in the Matadors for years was not only stealing from me but was also using the Matadors name to promote his other extremely shitty band. It was embarrassing and it made me want to throw in the towel. Instead I just let him out of his contract and severed ties... and fingers.
What steps do you take now that it's available? My faith in Lucifer, my addiction to pinball, the knowledge that I alone am saving rock and roll for future generations to enjoy booze, vaginas, fire, titties, whiskey, ass, boobies, burning things, alcohol, poontang, beer, violence, my insatiable hatred of AFI... these things keep me steadfast and on the straight and narrow when I'm feeling the pressure... oh, and pussy.
Your lyrics tend to facilitate the themes of drinking and relationships gone awry...the sex/drugs/rock'n'roll axiom. I feel that the Matadors are only continuing a folk/blues tradition with these kinds of subjects. I mean, these subjects are real life right? I can see that 300 years from now, people will be singing these Matadors songs as folk songs like "Erie Canal" or "Skip To My Lou." How many times have you been attacked by a "Teenage Zombie Slut?" A lot I imagine... and so have we all. I'm merely telling stories that reflect every man's pains, desires and sometimes horrors. I'm a regular Woody fucking Guthrie! And by the way world, you're welcome!
How do you feel you've grown musically in regards to this album? I don't know if I have grown much but I am certainly put a lot of different tones in this record that I have not shown the people before. For example, I peel out on the banjo on this record and I have never put that on any other Matadors records. I've recently come out of the banjo closet. I can now freely admit that I play the banjo...there, I've said it.
There is a lot more blues and country influence on this record then ever before. My thinking was that with all these new "billy" bands coming out these days that are making this extremely shitty music with no knowledge or basis in this music (rockabilly, blues, country) that they claim to love... I felt It was time to introduce kids to good sounds for a change.
My hope is that kids hear these musical idioms I am referencing and trace it back and find out where it's coming from. My dream is that kids coming up will seek out good music and in turn they will themselves create good music and then you wont have any more Billy Talents or Fall Out boy... boys? Boy? Whatever. I hope that a kid walks into HMV and picks up a Howlin' Wolf CD and then walks right on by a Tiger Army CD. That's my dream.