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20 January 2012

Interview: Mat Flint of Deep Cut and formerly of Revolver and Death in Vegas. Interview by Rob Turner.

When The Sun Hits Interviews Mat Flint of Deep Cut, Formerly of Revolver and Death in Vegas
Interview by Rob Turner

How and when was Deep Cut band formed?

After Revolver ended, I played bass with Death in Vegas from the mid-nineties up to 2005. To begin with, I was really happy just being a musician in someone else's band - particularly when it was a band that was fucking great! It suited me, after all the pressures of being the singer, songwriter and guitarist of Revolver, to just play in someone else's group for a while. But as time went on, I missed not being able to write songs - I mean, I could make up bass lines, and be involved in the arrangement of how we played songs live, but I started to feel that I needed to do my own thing again. When they stopped touring in 2005, I decided to concentrate on writing some of my own stuff again. Me and Si - my brother and Deep Cut bassist - had been doing some stuff together before that, which was more electronic, but he agreed to work on some more guitar-based stuff with me. We got a few demos together, and tried out a few singers, but none of them really worked. One day Emma - my wife - said she wanted to have a go at the vocals. She did Rubbernecking, which is on our first album, then Commodity and Freezer Burn, and we thought they sounded so good that we put them up on Myspace. Robin from AC30 heard them, liked them, and asked us to play at the AC30 night. So we had to get a band together! We did that, played a few gigs, and then Tim from Death In Vegas agreed to produce a single for us, which AC30 released. And it went on from there.

Can you tell us what The Deep Cut band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?

Our new album Disorientation came out late last year. We started recording it in the summer of 2009, and finished it in September 2010... so it's taken a year to come out! We are very proud of it - I know that everyone says this when they bring out a new record, but I really feel that it's the best stuff I've been involved with writing. We just released a single from it, "Something's Got To Give." It's a really limited thing that you can only get via the AC30 site. We did a couple of videos which are up on YouTube, and we have done a few shows - we did Glastonbury, and we supported Ringo Deathstarr and Spotlight Kid. We might do another single - probably Dead Inside Your Heart from the album. We've got a few more gigs coming up, me and Si are remixing a couple of bands.. And then I guess we will start working on the next Deep Cut album. Plus, I am going to play on a couple of other people's records, hopefully.

Deep Cut. About Face.

Do you consider Deep Cut music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene?

I don't ever think of music like that, to be honest, but I suppose that you probably could include us in it - if it exists! I'm happy to be included in anything, if it means that people hear our music. I actually see us as being closer to other current bands really - bands that don’t really get included in it.

Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre?

The bands that I’m talking about, that I think we would sort of fit in with, are bands like the Horrors, the Duke Spirit, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brian Jonestown Massacre and so on. You know, in that people that like their records would probably like ours. But I can see why you might lump us in with some of the more obvious shoegaze type bands. It's probably as much to do with the fact that I was in Revolver, as much as anything else. I mean, I can hear why you would think some of our stuff could be called “shoegaze” – but there is a lot more to it than that.

How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?

As much as I don't really like them when they’re applied to my own music, they are necessary I think. You know, if I go into a record shop, if I want a particular record, it helps if I can head straight to the psych section, or Krautrock, or hip hop or whatever! My problem with the “shoegaze” tag, really, was that I thought it sounded a bit silly... “Dream pop” is better, at least it tells you a bit about what the music sounds like!

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?

I absolutely love the Horrors. I think their last two albums have both been fantastic. I like some other bands that might just about fit into those categories, like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and there's an Australian band called Belles Will Ring that I really like. But I'm not crazy about many new bands, to be brutally honest. Maybe I just haven't heard the good ones! I mean I occasionally hear records that stand out, like that LSD and the Search For God record a couple of years ago, and I quite liked the Joy Formidable one... But generally I don't get to hear a lot of what you'd call "modern shoegaze". I’d be willing for someone to do me a mixtape though, of what’s really good at the moment. I don’t get to listen to as much new music as I used to and that’s a shame really. I do like some of the “new psychedelia” bands at the moment, though - the Black Angels, Asteroid #4, bands like that.

Deep Cut. Something’s Got To Give.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?

We are more about guitars and amps than we are about effects. I mean, we use a lot of
distortion, but if you listen to our stuff it's generally not overladen with loads of other effects, really. For distortion, we generally use the amp itself, or my Russian Bigmuff, or a Rat. I suppose we use tremelo quite a lot, but that's just on our amps. We used a Vox AC30 and a Fender Twin Reverb for pretty much everything on the album. And we just have nice guitars, you know – I have an American Telecaster Plus from the Revolver days that I still use, and I got a cool Jazzmaster a couple of years ago. We used a Rickenbacker 12 string on some tracks. And apart from the odd bit of flange or delay, the rest of the sound comes from which mike you use, and how you mike up the amp, and how you compress and EQ it afterwards. I dont believe in hiding behind loads of effects! I’ve always felt that the sound of a nice guitar plugged straight into an amp is a very physical sound – if you plug a Jazzmaster into a Marshall stack, and turn the gain up, you get a very physical, visceral effect from it. And to me, when you start adding digital effects into that, it takes away some of that visceral effect. And I don’t like that.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?

I was talking to Robin from AC30 about this the other day, and he was saying that he reckons that of all the people that actually have the Ringo Deathstarr album, maybe 1 to 2 per cent of those people actually bought it. Which is really fucking frightening. It's so different to when Revolver came out, it's a different ballgame now. The only ways a band can actually make a living doing this now - unless you have an absolutely massive single or album - are through doing loads of shows, selling loads of merchandise, or getting your music licensed to an advert, or a movie or something. So for people in bands who are just starting out, who want to do this as a career, it’s a pretty daunting prospect. Because the chances are that you aren’t going to sell any records, or CDs, or whatever. Having said that, we don’t do Deep Cut for financial gain – we do it for the love of making music. I gave up on being a pop star when Revolver broke up! I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to have a massive hit single – or a track used on a new HBO series or something – but we’re just very happy to be making music and putting it out.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?

I have to admit that I still like the label approach - it works for us, any way. On our new CD, we’ve done everything ourselves up to a certain point, which is where AC30 take over. We wrote and arranged the songs, engineered them, mixed them, got them mastered, and did all the artwork ourselves. But once it’s finished, I don’t want to do all the stuff like getting the sleeves printed, manufacturing the CD, dealing with distributors and getting it into the shops, and up onto iTunes and whatever. I just wouldn’t have the time to do that! Plus, we are very lucky to be on a label that carries a certain amount of kudos – people listen to stuff because it’s on AC30, and we wouldn’t get that otherwise. Also, they’re great guys, Robin and Dunk, Nick too, and it’s good to have people who aren’t in the band, but who are closely involved with it, who you can go to for advice – to help you make certain choices and so on. Having said that, I think if I was 20 and just starting out, I would go down the Bandcamp route. It’s a brilliant option if you can’t get – or don’t want - label support.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?

I’m a vinyl man – always have been, always will be! I don’t like CDs and never have done, really. Vinyl sounds better, the sleeves look better, and they stack up more nicely on your shelves! And vinyl will pretty much live forever, I think – it’s quite clearly going to outlast CD. Plus, I DJ a lot and it’s much more of a hands-on experience to do it with vinyl. You can’t scratch with a CD! But I also love cassette tapes. I’m going through a big phase at the moment of converting my old cassette tapes into digital, to put onto my iPod. And I love the sound you get on them, particularly when it’s a recording of a radio show from back in the day. You get that great radio compression sound, combined with the slightly hissy tape – I never used Dolby on my recordings! And of course, where would we be without mp3? I listen to so much music, whatever I’m doing, and I guess the vast majority of it now is on mp3, due to it being so portable. But if I get new stuff on mp3 that I really like, I always try to buy it on vinyl.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

Wow, what a question. We could be here all day! To really try to narrow it down… the first band I really became obsessed with were the Smiths, back when I was a teenager. I literally didn’t talk about anything else for about 3 years! I was a massive Johnny Marr fan. The way he looked, the way he played the guitar, the way he churned out all those songs so quickly, was just phenomenal. Plus, the first two gigs I ever went to were the Smiths, so that had a massive impact on me. I saw their last ever show, at Brixton Academy. After that, the Jesus and Mary Chain were next up – Psychocandy just blew my mind. The amazing songs, juxtaposed with the white noise – and the fantastic way they looked, I just loved it. I tried to look like I was in the Mary Chain for a long time when I was younger! And I always really loved New Order – just the most uplifting band in the world, ever. They’re still pretty much my favourite band, to this day. And My Bloody Valentine of course – when You Made Me Realise came out it just completely blew my mind. The whole EP was just incredible, and I became obsessed with them, went to all their shows, for a couple of years. Then Primal Scream were the next band to really influence the way I thought about music; I always loved reading interviews with Bobby, I often agreed with the things he said, and he always enthused about records that you hadn’t heard, that you then had to go and check out. And when they did “Screamadelica” it just changed the game, really. I started going to clubs, and getting really into dance music around that time, and a lot of it was through the Scream and Andrew Weatherall. We used to go to Weatherall’s club night Sabresonic – and that was a big influence, really getting into stuff that was electronic, and not guitar-based. And then there’s Sonic Youth, who have always been really inspiring to me – still brilliant now, after all these years. These are the artists that I’ve “grown up” with that have inspired me the most; but there are so many older artists that have had just as a big an impact, sometimes more so – Arthur Lee and Love, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, John Lennon, Iggy, John Lydon.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc)?

I’m currently reading a really good book about Syd Barrett, it’s called A Very Irregular Head, and it’s great. I just finished a book about Arthur Lee – Forever Changes I think it was called. That was pretty good. I haven’t read a novel for a while, last one I read was American Pastoral by Philip Roth which did my head in a bit! The last interesting film I saw was Enter The Void, I think. And I saw the Creation film, “Upside Down”, which was ok. Music wise, I’m listening to a lot of mid-90s hip-hop, lots of radio mixes from that time – Stretch and Bobbito shows, DJ Eclipse and DJ Riz, just really amazing stuff. It makes me want to cry at how terrible “hip-hop” has become today! I run a lot, 20-30km a week, and I find it’s the best kind of music to listen to while I run! I love the new Horrors album, been listening to that loads, along with Bo Diddley, David Bowie, Neil Young, J Mascis, Flying Burrito Brothers, Wooden Shjips… I just remembered that I like that Tame Impala album a lot, too.

If you had to choose one Deep Cut track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?

I’m tempted to say “Out Of Nothing” from the new album, as we did it in a really different way to how we normally write songs, and we will probably do that a lot more in the future. We played along to a loop of this really great hip-hop track by Godfather Don, and just basically wrote a song on top of it – and it worked. Then we took the loop out, and just let the song stand on its own. And it sounds like us, but it sounds like us coming from a different place, if you see what I mean. And that’s what we will do a lot more of. But, you could also say that a track like “Next Disaster” off the new album was more typical in terms of an “ultimate definition” of what we do, as it has all the things on it that we tend to do on most songs. Great lyrics and melody, noisy guitars, great rhythm section – but it’s not just a noise-pop thing. There’s brass on there, weird percussion, strange backing vocals… it has a twist to it. I’d very happy for people to hear that track, if they were only going to hear one song by us, to give them an idea of what we were about.

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?

I normally come up with the first idea – usually guitar chords, or a bassline idea, or a sample or loop. And then me and Si sit at the PC and fuck around with it until it turns into a workable idea. When we’ve got something that sounds like a song, we give it to Em to put vocal melodies on, and to try to come up with lyrics, and we then try to get it to a “rough demo” sort of stage. We then take that demo into the rehearsal studio for the whole band to work on; or, we just decide to do a new version of the song that ends up becoming the finished version, with the whole band playing on it. We don’t write songs from jamming together much – but we might do that more in the future.

What is the band’s goal for 2011?

I just hope that people get to hear this album. We put so much into it, and we’re very proud of it, you know? And I think it stands up, really. I’d be surprised if people who were listening to bands like the Horrors heard our stuff and didn’t like it… And that’s all really. I just want people to hear it, and say, “you know what, that Deep Cut album is fucking good.”

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

I got asked this the other day, and to be really honest, I didn’t think I really had one. But when I thought about it, I suppose it’s to do things only when it feels right – and fits in with your life. I’ve never been pressured into doing stuff I didn’t want to do. I’ve turned some things down over the years that I could have done, but didn’t, and I think it’s stood me in pretty good stead. I’m still making music that people are listening to, 20 years after I started doing it. And I don’t think many people can say that.