AN INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW BONAZZOLI
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Who is Matthew Bonazzoli?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I’m the guy who’s a bit too reserved and self-conscious to honestly answer that one. Who I am or the person I’ll be remembered as is hopefully written into my songs.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: How did you begin your journey with music?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: For me it started with writing. When I was a teenager I would write short stories and poetry, and then when the opportunity came up to try my hand at writing lyrics, I found that I enjoyed it so much that I stopped writing poetry altogether and focused on music. I used to practice by taking the lyrics to a well-known song I’d hear on the radio and I’d rewrite the words and even some of the vocal
melodies to fit. This also helped me better learn song structure and even began training my voice. I later went to a professional voice instructor and learned classical vocal techniques. For several years going back to the late 1980’s, my brother Damian and I would collaborate on writing and we used to perform with several different bands. In the 1990’s I taught myself how to play guitar and formed my own band called Gearhead. Gearhead’s mix of 1950’s cool and 1990’s edge became a hit and I’ve continued to refine, develop and expand that sound for the last ten years with The Bonazzoli Band.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Why did you decide to become a singer?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I wanted to be able to convey the emotions of the lyrics I was writing. Maybe it was an ego thing but I couldn’t imagine at the time having another voice behind my lyrics. Now of course, I’m older and I’m truly honored when a singer wants to cover one of my songs.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: What inspire you to write songs?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: My inspiration comes from life and experience. I don’t think my songs are directly about events or characters. They’re more about the emotions behind the story. So in a song like “Union Station” from American Ghost Stories I may be describing the unfortunate event where the great train station in Portland, Maine was torn down for a quick urban renewal payout, but the song is really about the sadness of losing a part of your history as you get older, and the realization that this is the destiny of people and things. You could pick virtually any song and read the story in the lyrics but, if you think further, most have a much deeper meaning. I recall in one album review someone said I wrote “the most beautiful, but also the saddest lyrics she had ever heard”. Another reviewer described our songs as “a clever mix of melancholy and inspiration” and I agree with both appraisals. Connecting with people on a deeper level through music is very important to me and something missing on most current industry hits. A good song can make you tap your feet, but it can also stir your soul.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: If you could choose again, would you want to become a singer or would you choose another profession?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: Well, my full-time profession really isn’t as a musician. I work in Supply Chain for high-tech, medical and defense contractors. So, I guess a different question may be if I would like to be a full-time musician. Certainly, should the opportunity present itself, I’ll jump at it, but there are benefits to being an independent musician too. If I wake up and want to work on a ballad, no one is there to tell me different. If I want to work on some weird, voodoo blues number, it’s up to me. There’s a freedom of creativity in not being boxed in and I think it’s very obvious to our fans when they listen to our music that we are an artistically creative band. On the other hand, the pay isn’t as good as an indie artist so most indie musicians need to have a real job to help fund their art. I’m no different.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: What are you currently working on?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I’m working on quite a few things musically at the moment. We’ve got the concept outlined for the next Bonazzoli Band album and I’m writing and recording with Damian Bonazzoli and Patrick Thompson. I’m reworking a few of my older Gearhead songs too. It’s fun to recreate a song that I recorded 20 years ago just to see how it’s grown and changed over the years. The Bonazzoli Band always dipped into our history for our live shows, so a few of these oldies have already crept back onto our newer albums and all I can say is, these next re-releases are some true fan favorites!
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Favorite food?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I’m not a foodie at all, which is likely why I’ve been able to stay thin my whole life. Then again, if I were forced to name one weakness it would be popcorn. Nothing fancy, just butter and salt, or even just salt.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Biggest dream?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I guess the biggest dream for myself personally would be to have a monster hit song. Something that could launch the band into the mainstream and enable us to reach millions of new music fans. From that point we could use our influence to help launch other great indie artists and maybe even get the music business back on track with supplying a creative art rather than a formulaic product.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Your favorite artist?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: It’s really difficult to pick one artist as my favorite. Out of the past, some of my favorite vocal talents would be Dean martin, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, and many others. A contemporary that I really like is Chris Isaak and I think it’s pretty obvious that there are some similarities between his retro vocal style and my own. For arrangements, I find influence in bands as diverse as Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra and even the Glenn Miller Orchestra. All of this combines into our unique approach to music.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: Best childhood memory?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I remember as a child, my mother would read to me a lot. She had a wonderful melodic tone to how she would relay the stories. I think she believed reading to her children was a foundation of our education and it’s something I feel every parent should do. I think it also helped me develop a sense of storytelling, structure and fantasy which I still call upon today.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: If you could choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I met the person I most wanted to have dinner with and I married her. Now, if I could choose any other person to have dinner with, I guess it would be maybe the president of the US. I’m a big fan of finding simple solutions to complex problems and it would be interesting to bounce ideas off of him.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: How do you connect with your fans?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: I connect with our fans primarily through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and our website. I also join many indie radio stations and interact through them. Some have chat rooms and I like to pop up on those when I can find the time. We don’t play out live very often so it’s good to keep fans engaged and aware that we’re still working and thinking of them.
ARTIST’S HOUSE: What’s next for Matthew Bonazzoli?
MATTHEW BONAZZOLI: What’s next? Well, there’s a new Bonazzoli Band album due in 2019, but in the meantime, we’re going to begin releasing tracks off that album separately as singles in the next few months. We’ve never really done that as a rule, but our thinking has changed over the years and we think that since this is the trend in the industry now, we’ll give it a shot too. It’s a chance to keep our name on the charts and to keep our dedicated fans happy, and in the end, that’s really what it’s all about.
Check out more about Matthew and his group The Bonazzoli Band at www.bonazzoli.com