As Matt Lashoff tells me about his last 72 hours, he sounds like many other musicians I interview. He has performed three days in a row, and had little sleep in between. The difference is, Lashoff is describing his day job as a professional hockey player. The 2005 first round draft pick currently plays for the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
In his spare time, the 6'2" 205-pound defenseman works on his other career, that of a professional musician. In May, Lashoff released his debut album Living On Heart, which was produced by Loren Harriet who has also helped several other professional athletes with their music careers, including four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams.
"Right now we are working on finding a label and getting distribution," says 25-year-old Lashoff, who also has played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins organizations. He describes his 11-track first album as "bluesy with a pop influence."
Harriet approached Lashoff after seeing a segment about his music that aired on New England Sports Network (NESN) while he played for the Boston Bruins. "I didn't think [Harriet] was serious at first [but eventually] he was helping me choose my band which was like an all star team of some of the best studio musicians," says Lashoff, who had one assist in 11 games with the Leafs last season.
Those in the band included the likes of Kenny Aronoff, Leland Sklar, David Sancious and Brent Mason ― all of whom have worked with high profile acts such as John Mellancamp and Bruce Springsteen's E-Street band as well as being accomplished musicians in their own right.
"These guys were learning my music ― how cool is that?!" says Lashoff who cites Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and B.B. King as some of his influences. The album was recorded over a month in the summer of 2010, coinciding with the end of hockey season. The sessions were held at the Barber Shop studios in New Jersey as well as one other studio in New York State near where Lashoff works on his off season conditioning in Stamford, Connecticut.
Lashoff is serious about his music and plans on working on a new album this summer or next and is leaning towards pursuing a different sound than that of Living on Heart. "The new album will be more groove based and not so poppy," he says.
While Lashoff points out that hockey takes precedent in his life, he doesn't feel music has to necessarily take a back seat. "A lot of people ask me how do you separate the two, but they've always been a part of my lifestyle. When we were kids [he is speaking as well of his brother Brian who is also a professional hockey player and plays guitar on the track "Something I Know"] we would play hockey before school and then after school till it got too dark and our mom told us to come in, then we would eat, play around on the guitar and write songs." he recalls.
"Some guys go golfing in the summer, for me, someone heard my stuff and gave me a chance to put something out there, I know I'd be kicking myself when I'm older if I didn't do this."