Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview with Dr. Dan Matrazzo and the Looters

Hot on the heels of his his recent collaborations "Gov't Mule with John Scofield," and "Firefly" with Stanton Moore, Dr. Dan Matrazzo teams up with The Looters for his second offering in 2015. The Looters are best known for their work with Kristina Train, Rosa King, and Saskia Laroo, while Dr. Dan built his fierce reputation performing and recording with the likes of Steve Vai, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Colonel Bruce Hampton, The Allman Brothers Band, and Widespread Panic. Over 60 minutes of live and studio funk, blues, and psychedelia, featuring 10 never before heard songs and performances.

Interview with Joe Layden of Dr. Dan Matrazzo and the Looters

Tell us about your name? Are you a real doctor and are your bandmates looters? Where did the name come from and how you guys came up with it?

Joe Layden: Dr. Dan was given his nickname by Derek Trucks of The Allman Brothers Band/Tedeski and Trucks Band. Derek used to play for Dr. Dan and Col. Bruce Hampton in his early days, when they were The Fiji Mariners on the Capricorn label. Dan claims to be a doctor of “Music and Magic” but I'm not sure what university has that major...
The Looters started out as the backing band for Rosa King, Amsterdam's “Queen of Funk and Blues.” We trained for that tour with a teenage blues singer named Kristina Train(then Kristina Beaty), who's now on Blue Note records and was lead vocalist on Herbie Hancock's recent “Imagine” album. So around the turn of the century my brother Eric and I played a string of tours in the U.S. And Europe as “Rosa King and The Looters,” “Kristina Beaty and the Looters,” and later as “Saskia Laroo and The Looters.” The reason we chose that name escapes me...maybe something to do with what was happening in New Orleans at the time or a book I was reading called The Fountainhead...

Can you tell us the story behind your newer music? How tough was it to make and what challenges did you face to put it out?

Joe Layden: It actually went pretty smoothly. It was recorded by my old friend Forrest Sloan at Skull and Dragon Bones studio in Brunswick, Ga. He really gets our sound. The main trouble was getting time between gigs to make the trip down to Brunswick!

Basically, for the past three years our shows have consisted of music from Dr. Dan's classic “Dan on the Moon” album, along with the funkiest songs from The Looters unrecorded original repertoire...plus a few tunes from Dr. Dan's 2014 collaboration with Stanton Moore of Galactic. Along the way, a couple of new songs emerged over long bus rides and backyard BBQs. Once we had enough songs for an album we figured we'd better record them.

So, tell me about the band. How did you all meet and how quickly did you guys mesh together as a band before you decided to start producing albums together?

Joe Layden: My brother Eric and I have been touring as The Looters or as Someone “and The Looters” since 1999 with various supporting musicians filling out the group. We have a “Looters Revue” show in Savannah that features well-known musicians as well as up-and-coming talents.

I met Dr. Dan around 1998...was walking down Riverstreet in Savannah when I heard the most unique and amazing keyboard sounds I'd ever experienced coming out of a place called J.J. Cagney's. He was touring in support of “Dan on the Moon.” We hit it off immediately and he asked me to fill in for his guitarist on a couple of shows. He'd been sticking to straight jazz in Atlanta to stay close to his family for nearly a decade when he called me up in 2012 and told me that he was ready to rock again.

Going back over the past decade and a half, what has been the highlight of your band's career?

Joe Layden: One of the greatest experiences of my life was playing as “Saskia Laroo and The Looters” at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. Another was playing with Rosa King at the Almere Jazz and Blues Festival in Holland.

Tell us about your music, what are your influences and what bands do you guys look up today?

Joe Layden: We're all fans of Billy Preston, Herbie Hancock, The Funky Meters, Tower of Power, and classic funk. But I think some other influences like Led Zep, Primus, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Steely Dan slip in there sometimes. We definitely look up to artists like John Scofield and Pat Metheny. I personally am a big fan of Umphrey's McGee, The New Mastersounds, and Ray Lamontagne...

What song do you feel represents the band the best?

Joe Layden: "Pimpin' Aint Easy!"

So, what is in store for Dr. Dan Matrazzo and the Looters? Do you have a music video in the works or an upcoming tour to promote your music?

Joe Layden: We've released two videos in support of the album, for “Those Ways” and for “Pimpin' Aint Easy.” There's a concert video on youtube for one of the live tracks, “Minor Third from the Sun.” It's the same performance as the album, though not the same recording. Four of the tracks on the album are live- since we are primarily a live act, we thought it important to include some real-time improvisation on our first release. A small tour of the southeastern U.S. Is currently being planned... Pimpin' Aint Easy-

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