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5 minutes with Joe Matera

"Social media is one of the biggest and best promotional tools"

Hi Joe, thanks for joining me. Why don't you start by telling me a bit more about your music.
My music is instrumental music, it's very highly melodic so it's not your typical shredding guitar stuff. I write and record music for masses really, people tend to hear melodies and harmonies. I'm starting more vocals tracks too which are more in the vein of contemporary rock. Basically, I would class my music as instrumental melodic rock.

How did you start out?
Well I've been playing guitar for over 25 years and I've been in many bands in Australia. The last band I was in I basically quit the band and had decided to go solo; I've been writing all this instrumental stuff and though "you know what? I'll record this and release it" so I did and now I'm up to my second release, my first full album. Back in 2011 I signed to an Austrian label called WPR Productions and they've been fantastic. They've released both of my CDs and really promoted and supported me; that's the reason I'm here in London because of all they've done.

I was 15 when I started playing guitar. There's a show in Australia called Countdown and it's sort of the equivalent to the English "Old Grey Whistle Test" and "Top of the Pops" and it was a very influential show. Everyone growing up in the 70s in Australia used to watch it and I was one of them. I remember seeing a lot of bands like KISS perform and I remember thinking "wow, I love this, I love the way the guitarist is playing" so that made me go out, get a guitar and start playing. I didn't take lessons, I learnt to play by ear by listening to old vinyl records; slowing them down and working them all out, unlike today with all this technology where you can just let the computers work it all out for you. For me, music is about the ear and if you let a computer work it all out for you, you're not actually listening to it so I think it's important to spend the time to learn the guitar, work things all out and make mistakes. You should develop your own style.

How did you get signed to the record label?
They got in touch with me. Alex came upon one of my tracks called Face Off which is a track I recorded for my last CD "Slave of Fingers". That track had a bass player called Tony Dolan from a band called Venom. Alex is a big fan of Venom and he contacted me; from there he asked to listen to some of my music and he loved it. He said to me "look, I've got a label and I'd love to release your music" and that's what he's done. They've been there from day one.

Where did your inspirations come from for the 2 CDs you have out already?
Inspiration comes from everywhere; life. I could be driving my car, look out the window and a melody will come to me so I'll go home and just get on with that melody and I could write a song with it. A lot of the time, I just sit down with a guitar, move away and come up with all sorts of different music. I've always got a guitar in my hand, I'm always inspired to write music so everything inspires me.

Would you put any inspiration down to one particular band?
No, I've got a varied background of influence. I love everything from rock to pop to blues but my main love is rock music and if you really want to pin point my stick influences it would have to be classic rock from the 70s; bands with sort of twin guitar, harmony guitar, songs that you hear on the radio and you bop your foot to.

How are you finding management?
I'm no longer with the UK management so I've been doing most of that myself but Alex from my Austrian label has done everything; he's come out with me on this tour, he's really supported me. He's been fantastic. The UK has been wonderful; this is my very first tour overseas so to come here, to play to audiences that really appreciate my music has been wonderful.

Is there anywhere else, aside from London, that you'd enjoy playing overseas?
Well, London's my number one. I love Lancaster, bit colder than London but there's so many places I've been going through in England that I've loved. It's not a big country but I'd love to live here if I could. I was telling this to one of my English friends, if you've been living in one country for so long, you always want to live somewhere else. For me, it's like I want to come to England; for you it's like I want to go to Australia.

What's your opinion on what you've seen of the music scene here in England? Is it different to those in Australia?
There's a very big difference, you guys are at the forefront of music whereas Australia is a bit behind with the current songs. We don't get a lot of music until about 6 months later. We grow up and hear a lot of Australian bands but it's a small country, we get a lot of English bands too. I think the English scene is very thriving, inspiring and influential and any Australian band would have to say they get some influence from here. I certainly do anyway.

Where does your title "Slave of Fingers" come from?
I was watching this program on TV one night and this character in a drama series had a guitar and just happened to say "slave of fingers" and I thought wow, what a great title. It represents that I'm a slave to my fingers that play guitar which I think sums me up.

What are your plans for the future once you return to Australia?
Alex is going to release "Fallen Angel" which is on my new album Creature of Habit and we're really going to push the promotion because the album's just come out. I'm definitely going to be coming back next year to do more shows around all of Europe and I'll continually write new music so I might have a new album out by then. For the time being, my album is a priority and going back, I'll be doing a lot of promotion.

Did you tour Australia before coming to the UK?
No, I just came out a few weeks ago. I've done shows in Australia in the past but for this album, Europe's been my main focus for touring. I'm signed to an Austrian label, their focus is mainly Europe because Europe is really supportive of my music. It's a bit different in Australia. I find European audiences are a lot more open-minded to all sorts of styles of music, I was really overwhelmed by all the support I've had. Alex has been to all sorts of countries in Europe so I want to focus on Europe and the UK market; go there and see what happens.

Have you played around Europe a lot?
No, this is my very first time. My first show was in Linz, Austria; it was a special acoustic show that I opened for and it was fantastic.

What is your overall opinion of the label?
It's fantastic. I'm here because of WPR Productions, it's the best label to be on. I think a lot of major labels have lost their way and it's all about the money. In the old days, it was all about developing an artist and really giving them a career; Alex is doing that and he's behind me all the way. That's what you need. More labels like Alex's will do the music business a lot of good.

Do you tend to get a lot radio airplay?
In Australia, I've been getting quite a bit. Before my releases, I've had a lot of great support from the commercial stations which is in the country areas, they've been very open minded so that's been fantastic. In Europe, I've started to filter through some smaller radio stations and one in America, a very small one but it has added "Fallen Angel" to their playlist which is doing pretty well there. Hopefully, bit by bit, more stations will add the track.

What stations would you like your music to be played on?
I'd love to be played on the big metro stations. That's very hard though; there's a lot of major artists that don't even get airplay on those stations but I think it's every artists dream to be on a radio station that has a massive listening audience.

How else are you planning on promoting your music?
Social media is one of the biggest and best promotional tools, Aside from that, any press like what you're doing, radio airplay and at the end of the day, doing live shows people have seen you play and them going off and spreading the word is probably the best sort of publicity you can get.

I think that's about it for now, is there anything else you'd like to add before you go?
I just want to say thank you for your interest in my music and this interview and I'd like to thank the English audience, they've been fantastic so far. I'm really honoured to be in such a wonderful country and for my music to be enjoyed by everyone. Everyone out there, please check out my new album and hopefully buy a copy. It's available by both download and physical copy.

Interview by Robyn Lees

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