Matt Rocker
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Matt Rocker

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Sprightly and tuneful local singer-songwriter, in early-'80's post-Elvis Costello punchy power-chorded pub-pop mode, though he may well owe just as much to, say, Weezer or Fountains of Wayne. One of his songs may or may not be about Bob Dylan. – Chuck Eddy - Village Voice - new york


Aren’t I the lucky one! Not only did I have a fun night out with friends at Lower East Side hot spot Pianos, but I also had the chance to snuggle up to musician Matt Rocker. Well, okay, he smiled for a picture for me and answered some of my questions (purely professional to my dismay! Although he did sneak a kiss on the cheek when we said good-bye- swoon!

Along with his good looks Matt Rocker and his band the Constituents have a talent for pop-rock music. They are gearing up for the release of Rocker’s debut solo album in January. In my opinion he is well on his way to super stardom (think two of the latest young heartfelt rockers on the scene Gavin DeGraw and Ryan Cabrera) but Rocker says he does not want this kind of fame. He said he would rather be just well known enough to have a consistent career making music.

But with a name like Matt Rocker how can one not be a famous musician? I asked him if this was really his name straight out of the womb. Was he actually born a Smith or a Jones? He said, with a laugh, Would you really think if I changed my name for the business I would pick something as cheesy as Rocker?" And when I asked him why he wanted to be a musician he said, "I come form a long line of Rockers.” Ooooh - cute and funny!

Besides playing music Rocker is also interested in film editing and of course he is talented in this area. He worked on Lord of the Rings 2! This particular concert included a video installation set up behind him which played various film clips edited by him and a few friends. He said he wanted to give some exposure to his film editing friends and to draw attention to his up coming album, Being Human. At times it was hard to make out what was on the screen, but it added a much needed visual image to the otherwise stark space.

I am definitely planning on heading to Pianos again to check out Rocker’s release party on January 20th and maybe before that for some chill time in the upstairs lounge, hopefully with a date this time! Any takers?

- New York Cool


Sometimes it really is all in a name. When it comes to laying down rock in the style of ‘80s stars like Bruce Springsteen, REO Speedwagon and the Traveling Wilburys, singer Matt Rocker lives up to his moniker. With the recent release of his full-length album “Being, Human,” Rocker––yes, it’s his real name––proves his chops as a solo artist.

The album kicks off with “Ranchos Mancheros,” a rock tune in the vein of Little Feat, heavy on intro snare drums, harmonica and guitar. Rocker sings of “virgins, pimps, hookers, wimps, losers and heroes/ wasting their time wondering why the other ones are living that way,” and goes on to ask, “what if you could change your life completely, and everything turned out to be the same?” He eventually settles on the fatalistic dictum that “you are who you’re supposed to be.”

Finding oneself is a prominent theme in this Minneapolis boy’s work, figuring in his track “Butterfly or Ballerina,” which sounds like an old Joan Jett arrangement. “If I had to choose/ butterfly or ballerina/ well a butterfly doesn’t have to try to be beautiful like we do,” he concedes, adding, “I’m growing wings, yes I think I might be changing/ if it’s because of you, it’s nothing short of amazing.”

Another track in this spirit is “Bayou,” a rolling melody with a sound straight out of the Traveling Wilburys songbook. Lost love is the theme here. Two broken champagne glasses and an unfinished tattoo lead Rocker to sing a chorus that proves quite catchy, “I don’t wanna do no wrong by you.”

The same Southern-fried rock sound also surfaces in “Back Home,” Rocker’s ode to being addicted to love. Mournful guitar and harmonic back up the lyrics, “I’m allergic to pain, I’d better just avoid it/ The effort’s in vain, The facts have been recorded/ now I know that I don’t want to know./ If I jump, will I fly?…./Can you ever get back home once you leave?” The song concedes the inescapable folly of love, an un-love song to “the person I call/ when I’ve got nothing to say.”

And in “Ol’ Yeller,” Rocker lays down a guitar track that sounds like Bruce Springsteen off the “Born in the USA” album, and bemoans the girl who “pulled out her hair/studied Christianity ‘til she had a cross to bear…you wrote words to the protest song/ it was the least that you could do.” But several verses later, Rocker cracks, “I don’t know you/ no, I don’t know you.”

Falling in and out of love songs are clearly Rocker’s m.o., with the emotion figuring in as more of a supporting character than anything else, dependent more on an on/off switch than on an uncontrollable torrent. If that is a bit jaded, it is not without humor.

In “I Love You,” Rocker sings, “how do you get your hair so shiny?/ What’ll we do when you get home?/ Why do I feel like I don’t need you?”

And though the production quality of the album comes across a little fuzzy—Rocker recorded under his own label, Love Rock Music—his skills as a songwriter are crystal clear. In “Hooked On,” Rocker sings, “it’s a constant struggle with gravity/ I think I can win.” In “Bare In Mind,” he asserts, “I can’t trade a life that’s filled with pain/ for a life that’s always the same.” Rocker has a firm grasp on penning narrative rock songs that combine intellect and humor and still manage to fit nicely with his instrumental arrangements. It will be exciting to see this talented artist grow as a songwriter.

With this album, Rocker moved from his work with Matt Rocker & The Constituents to a purely solo work, except for some help from drummer Jake Slichter of Semisonic on one song. The shift comes off very well, and although Rocker will tour with the Constituents in tow—backed with video projections composed by filmmakers including Matthew Barney, Micah Schaeffer, Rachel Johnson and Alrick Brown of IFC’s “Film School” fame—he is clearly talented enough to go it alone.

This Brooklynite officially released “Being, Human” at a January 19 performance at Piano’s on the Lower East Side. Visit mattrocker.com for upcoming shows.
- Gay City News


Discography

"being, human" LP
"bipolarbear" LP
"black & white" LP
"life is but a dream" LP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"Sprightly and tuneful local singer-songwriter, in early-'80's post-Elvis Costello punchy power-chorded pub-pop mode, though he may well owe just as much to, say, Weezer or Fountains of Wayne.” – Village Voice

“Along with his good looks Matt Rocker and his band the Constituents have a talent for pop-rock music. They are gearing up for the release of Rocker’s debut solo album in January. In my opinion he is well on his way to super stardom.” - New York Cool

“In his 25 years, he’s been a soundman, a stagetech, a studio engineer and best of all, a songwriter for a singing telegram service. You won’t get anything as exciting as Rocker singing “Happy Birthday” dressed as a chicken, but if the man’s songs are half as strong as his determination it’ll be worth it.” - Time Out New York

“Rocker is his real name. Judging by the drum kit, five guitars, bass guitar, microphone stand, and several ukuleles that he has encouraged us to play in his Brooklyn apartment, Rocker lives up to that name. This prospect excites me.” - City Pages, Minneapolis

“hyperkinetic pop skills” - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Believe it or not, he was born Matthew Dean Rocker in Saratoga Springs, NY. And from a young age it was apparent to those around him that he would live up to the name. Whether turning a portable tape player into a distortion box or starting his career as a songwriter for a singing telegram service, Rocker always had a passion for music.

His released his first album in 1995, and continued writing while earning a bachelor's degree in music, then a masters from NYU. Rocker went on to contribute to the score for the Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers, wrote music for the 2002 Olympics, conducted his own orchestral composition at Lincoln Center, and released five more albums.

Other than a notable cameo by Semisonic drummer Jake Slichter on one track, Rocker sings every part and plays every instrument on his latest release, “Being Human.” A prolific songwriter, Rocker makes a commitment to unveil at least one new song at every performance.

His high-energy shows have started to create a buzz among musicians, with the likes of David Byrne being spotted in the audience. Those who catch a show will see for themselves that Rocker ultimately lives up to his name.