In a photo album, there’s a picture of a rather rambunctious kid, with big red glasses, playing the harmonica.
Contributing that little bit of harmony to the world was none other than Matt Powers, an Indie/Punk Rock singer/songwriter and musician.
“I always knew what I wanted to do, but I had to figure out how to do it,” Powers, who is one of the opening acts at Dfest, said.
Having both talent and creativity can sometimes be an insidious combination and he knew at an early age that he had a gift. He was only six when he learned how to play guitar, and he says, “I knew then that it was something I was going to be doing for the rest of my life.”
Perhaps his parents even worried about it, as they forbid him to play until he was 15. “I grew up in a strict environment. My mother was a Republican politician. My father was in the Navy,” he said. “It wasn’t quite a Jim Morrison scene.”
Originally from New York City, Powers found success in Los Angeles and in college radio world-wide with his first album, titled, “Never Ending Aftermath.”
Released in 2008, he recorded it with Oliver Strauss of Mission Sound (Taking Back Sunday, All-American Rejects) in Brooklyn. The two laid down an amazing 11 songs in 10 days.
Chit chatting with Powers is no shallow affair. Incredibly talented, intelligent, and verbose, we engage in some rather lofty conversations.
He says to me, “My family is Republican, but I am definitely a Democrat.” I tell him that there are three things one should never discuss–politics, money, and religion. Of course, we venture into all three.
“I am wearing an Obama shirt in communist red,” he states. I laugh and the conversation turns to a friend he knew in school at NYU. In his freshman year, his roommate was a chef. When they first met, his roommate looked over at him and asked, “What in the world are you doing?”
The inquiry was in regard to Powers’ attempt at cooking. “I’m making macaroni and cheese,” he told him. To a chef, of course, that would never do. So, his new friend taught him how to cook.
“I was lucky. He set me on the right path,” Powers said. Indeed, it seems he did. Today, Powers cooks all his meals, eats only organic foods and does his best to avoid red meats.
It would be fair to say that he’s not the average punk rock star, if there even is a standard stereotype of one. No, Powers is much more unique in ways that one would never expect.
This musical savant, who has played with the likes of Shawn Pelton, Sheryl Crow, Kelly Clarkston, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, James Rotondi and so many more, has learned a lot from his time on the road. Those experiences have helped to sharpen his perspective on what he is trying to do with his music career.
Backed by the band members of PEOPLE, Powers is currently working on an EP at Transformer studios in California. He joined the group PEOPLE in early 2009. Hard at work, they already have a new album coming out this month, titled, “The Cliché.” (For more information, please visit their website: www.myspace.com/peoplerock)
Powers describes the band as a family. “We all write are own music,” he said. “We’re all looking at how to connect with the audience more. I don‘t think albums are worthwhile anymore.”
With an fan base of 31,000 people online, Powers says what you do online is more important than anything one might do with a music label.
“We really need to change the business model in this industry. Look at Motown and the singles of the 50s and 60s. Look at the house bands at Motown,” he said. “Then, look at the way we use art today. Look at the way the industry takes people, uses them up, and spits them out.”
We delve into a conversation about Michael Jackson. “I think the way his career was handled is the reason he was so screwed up. If you were to look beyond that, you’d see that he was a beautiful, positive person. The Beatles and Michael Jackson both had a lot of positive songs that influenced music like no other artists,” he said. “Jackson had a hard life and he was never convicted. In this country, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”
He continued, “There’s a lot about this industry that can drive people over the edge. There’s so much that needs to change.”
The notion of public image is considered. He brings up “Momma,” from the Momma and the Pappas. “Take a look at her. She was a bigger lady. Although she wasn’t a super model, she was beautiful when she would sing and dance, “ he said. “That kind of beauty is different. I‘m concerned about that in this market today. We‘re losing that kind of art.”
Powers has a strong interest in art, writing, and in music. He actually read the entire library by the time he was in 5th grade. “I was put to bed at 7:30 p.m. It would be light outside. What else was I supposed to do?” he asks. All that reading paid off, too. Powers, who started writing songs in the 4th grade and books in the 9th grade, is planning on releasing one of his books on his blog. He wants to publish a chapter a week. Before he does, he’s going to get an artist to illustrate it. He’s been searching for someone that can do it.
While the conversation takes its various twists and turns, Powers is elegant, knowledgeable and fascinating. Strong and talented, he’s an artist that promises to be one of the more entertaining and engaging acts at this year’s Dfest.
Married for five years, Powers has a three year old son, that carries many of his traits. When it comes to family, he admits how difficult it is to sustain a relationship in this business or to even have one.
“Most artists think they have to have a certain life. Once you break the mold, you should define yourself. You get way more control over your stability,” he said. “My wife is my best friend. She also plays bass in one of my bands.”
If there’s a band to check out online, it would be Matt Powers and PEOPLE. Learn more about Powers by visiting any of these four links:
Dfest Performance Dates:
Matt will perform Friday, July 24, at 6p.m. on the PAC Williams Stage. Then, he takes the stage with PEOPLE, July 25 at 6:15p.m at The Flytrap.
Matt Powers is one of 160 bands performing this upcoming weekend. One of the most comprehensive music conferences and festivals in the Midwest, 13 venues in Downtown Tulsa’s historic Blue Dome District will be filled with an estimated 70,000 festival attendees.
This event, expected to have a $12.7 million impact on Tulsa’s economy, not only provides unsigned artists an opportunity to get involved in the music industry, it offers music lovers everywhere the opportunity to get a sneak peak at some of the best and brightest new talent in the market.
Visit the official Dfest website. www.dfest.com