It’s a cold, rainy day in Louisville, Kentucky when Like A Storm’s Matt Brooks breezes into my life and blows me away with his genuineness. Sitting in the Louder Than Life media tent, Matt shares his coat and stories from his childhood, while I share heaps of praise and a suggestion for their next acoustic project.
Shockwave Magazine: I love your coat.
Matt Brooks: Thank you!
It looks warm.
Are you cold?
I’m from Florida.
You must be very cold indeed.
I’m frozen to this bench.
I’ll come sit over here beside you.
I won’t say no to that. For those unfamiliar with Like A Storm, it was started by you and your brothers.
That is correct.
What is your first musical memory collaborating with Chris and Kent?
We always — it was crazy because we actually always used to play in different bands when we were growing up, but we always jammed together at home. So when we were little kids our mom and dad thought it would be good if we all learned the piano. So for as long as I can remember we’ve always been playing piano, and that kind of segwayed into other instruments. As we got a little bit older, started to get into rock music, and then really get into rock music, we’ve always just played different instruments between us. We’ve always jammed together, even when we weren’t in the same band. So we’d be in different bands, but we’d just be kicking around at home and pick up a guitar, and someone plays drums, and someone plays bass, and we’d just play, like, Foo Fighters, or like, Michael Jackson, or whatever we wanted. So I guess in a way we’ve kind of always been doing it, long before we actually started the band together.
So what did your parents listen to? That’s ultimately going to be your first influences.
Yes! They gave us a really good start as far as song writing. They were huge Beatles fans, Eagles fans, Creedence Clearwater Revival … and I remember one trip we took as kids. We went around the South Island of New Zealand, and for six weeks the only thing we could agree on between us and our parents was the Eagles Greatest Hits. We had Sound Garden and Nirvana, and we wanted to listen to that. I think Mom wanted to listen to The Mamas & the Papas or something — which now I appreciate, but when you’re a kid you don’t care about that. The Eagles was what we decided on. So we listened to nothing but the Eagles for six weeks. I could sing you every lyric of every song on that Greatest Hits album.
Love “Desperado!” What a song. Don Henley. What a voice, man. Amazing.
A little bit?
Alright, that’s perfect. I’m slain. Getting back to all the different instruments you picked up over the year, obviously we have to talk about the didgeridoo. Did I say that right!
Yes, excellent. You’re one of the few.
Alright! So who picked up the didgeridoo first? And pardon me for being blunt, but was it a joke? Were you just curious about it? It’s a very unusual instrument, obviously.
Yeah, it is. So the didgeridoo is an Australian instrument. But growing up in New Zealand, it’s always been around. The sound of it, I think to all of us, has always just been a very hypnotic, captivating sound. Even now it’s like, people could hear it today, people would have heard it for the first time — it just hypnotizes people. So I guess the sound of it is something we have always been familiar with. But Chris, who is our lead singer, he taught himself how to play it after a trip to Australia, which is where our grandparents lived. Every year we would go to Australia and visit them. One year he bought a didge and taught himself how to play it in three days, which is crazy because it’s this notoriously hard instrument to learn. It involves circular breathing which is a way to keep the drone continuous even when you’re breathing in at the same time. So like you’re breathing in and you’re pushing out at the same time. It’s incredibly difficult.
Not a typical wind instrument.
No, it’s a very difficult instrument to learn. As soon as Chris taught himself how to play it we just thought it was the most incredible sound we’d ever heard. I guess as musicians and as song writers we just thought it was a cool thing to try and incorporate into our music. It’s been an evolutionary process since then. As we’ve written new songs and made new records, now the didge is as much a part of our band as guitars, bass, and drums. It’s kind of cool to be in a place where you have this completely different instrument that you can incorporate as if it’s just part of the band.
It’s fearless, honestly, what you guys do and the way that you experiment with sound. I can’t imagine the process of picking up an instrument and thinking, “Well that didn’t work,” because it seems like everything that I wouldn’t picture being part of a rock ensemble, works for Like A Storm. There’s a fearlessness to your sound.
Thank you. That’s a huge compliment. Thank you, honestly. But that’s part of what we love most about being in a band, you know? This last record, Awaken the Fire, we wrote it ourselves, we recorded it ourselves, we produced it ourselves, it’s entirely our baby. We just thought, you know, this is like — you know, we left New Zealand to play music, and we’re going to play what we love. If you try something and it doesn’t work, there’s nothing wrong with that. You know, the only problem there ever is, is to be afraid to try things. That’s how we feel anyhow. So for us it’s like, you take chances and you take risks and you do crazy things like incorporating didgeridoo into rock music. Sometimes it works, and when it works it’s like something you’ve never heard before. To us that’s the most exciting thing about being a musician is that you get the opportunity to stumble across things that you’ve never heard before. Then you get to play that every night.
So is there anything you want to try next, in terms of like a musical sound? Something you’ve thought about? Something maybe you’re like “There’s no way I’m bringing this up,” but then you do?
*Laughs* It’s funny because we’re always joking about that, because Didgeridoo Metal is kind of what that kind of music is known as now. It didn’t exist before we started doing it.
It’s your thing! You made a genre.
We’re very honored. But we’re huge fans of all different kinds of music. I mean, “Wish You Hell,” another song of ours, we became huge fans of the blues, and Delta blues in particular, through touring in the south of America. We just thought it would be cool to write a song that incorporated this kind of 1930s Delta blues thing with a heavy rock song. So I suppose for us it’s just like whatever we’re inspired by and whatever to us is exciting and — we’re always looking for new influences to bring into the fold and make them part of our band.
And it always works. I mean, from where I’m sitting.
Thank you! Thank you.
Obviously I’m not in the studio and I don’t hear the “nopes.”
I think that’s the most fun thing about making an album is that you can take chances, and if it doesn’t work then no one has to hear it. But the most important thing is to create an environment where you can try crazy ideas, because when they work it’s much cooler than you would ever imagine.
You also did the DVD Southern Skies. So you traveled around to places that you grew up — and introduced your fans to these places and then did these amazing acoustic covers in the most amazing places.
Ah, thank you.
Do you see yourselves doing more of that?
Absolutely. I mean, that was a really special thing for us because we’ve always been fans of bands that could play heavy rock and also play acoustically, you know? All the bands we looked up to like Metallica and Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, that was just part of being a musician. So we always loved doing the acoustic stuff. Then with Southern Skies, we got to go back to places that were really significant to us growing up. We’d been away touring for a long time, so to go back and to get to share that with our fans is a very cool thing.
Speaking of your fans, you were awarded most fan-friendly band by TuneLab’s readers.
That was nice of them to say.
That’s is a nice thing to say.
It’s very nice. I mean, I don’t know how you couldn’t love your fans, you know? Our fans are amazing, and they’re literally the reason that we’re here. They’re the difference between you being completely unknown, and getting to tour America, and tour Europe. Your fans are the people who make your dream possible. That’s why we love them. They’re also very cool people. We’ve gotten to know a lot of them and they’re very awesome.
There are bands that are afraid of their fans.
Our fans are cool. Our fans have honestly never been anything other than awesome to us, and the more of an opportunity we have to get to know them, the more you like people. It’s cool.
I wanted to ask you, because you guys are so experimental, if you would ever consider doing a recording in the Integratron? Because when I was watching Southern Skies this came to mind.
Tell me about the Integratron. I’m sold.
Okay, it’s in the Mojave Desert.
Okay, I like the Mojave Desert.
It is considered to be the most acoustically perfect structure in the world.
It probably has the best name of anything in the world.
It does have the best name.
The Integratron. Integratron! That could be the name of our next album.
Artists have recorded there. It’s totally doable.
It sounds awesome. Wow!
I just think that you are bold enough to do something really cool there.
We are pretty bold. I don’t know if that’s insanity or courage, but we are bold.
But it’s a very good thing because it comes out in your sound and that’s why you’re not like anybody else. I sit down and read about bands and listen to bands to get a feel for what I want to talk about, but what’s interesting about Like A Storm is that no one compares you to anyone else.
Well thank you! That’s really high praise, honestly.
It’s very true.
Now you came over with Creed, then you toured again with Alter Bridge, and you just toured Europe with Tremonti. I sense a pattern emerging.
Yeah, we love this guy. I mean, Mark especially. I mean honestly, Mark was my idol growing up. When I was a guitar player growing up, Mark Tremonti was my idol. So just to know him as a person is a huge thing for me. But he’s an amazing guy and they’ve done so much for us. You know, we toured with Creed, Alter Bridge, Tremonti. We love these guys.
So what’s next then?
We’re going to be in the states for the rest of the year. We have a headlining tour of America which is our first American headlining, nationwide tour in November and December. To us that’s a huge milestone so we’re very excited about that.
We will look for it.
You were so kind to sit down with me and keep me warm.
Thanks for taking the time.
With that, Matt moves on to his next interview, and just like a storm, when it’s over somehow the air is that much sweeter. Like A Storm is almost halfway through their Didgeridoo Destruction Tour. Catch up with them before the storm passes and look for Shockwave Magazine’s show review coming soon.