“I’ve been an adult for a while. Then, all of a sudden, I am 15 again.”
It’s been 10 years since a little punk band from California called The Matches released their debut LP, E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals. Now, they are playing packed-out shows all in the name of revival. Vocalist and guitarist Shawn Harris talks to JESSICA WILLOUGHBY ahead of their Perth show at Amplifier Bar on Friday, January 9.
After taking a break for a few years, Oakland punk rockers The Matches decided to play a one-off reunion show to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their first offering, E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals.
When that show sold out in literally three minutes, they thought it was best to maybe play a couple more dates. When tickets disappeared in record time yet again, then a full US tour went ahead. So when the whole tour got ridiculous numbers into venues, the four-piece thought ‘…shit, let’s just go to Australia too‘. Why the hell not? This was the exact sentiment shared by vocalist and guitarist Shawn Harris as he chatted with X-Press ahead of their return to our shores for the first time in five years.
“It’s been pretty surreal,” Harris tells of the reunion shows. “I’ve been an adult for a while. Then, all of a sudden, I am 15 again. As soon as we hit the first chord of the first song off the first record that first time, the crowd – who are all these adults now – completely went nuts. They started crowdsurfing and dancing and screaming the lyrics at us like they were 13 again. We were just in awe.
“The first show we played was meant to be a secret show, in the parking lot of this warehouse that we used to play at in Oakland. We honestly didn’t think anyone was going to show up, so we thought we’d get a practice show in before we decided to do a formal show. But 200 people ended up coming along – which was cool. I was not expecting that. The reception has been crazy. It feels way more intense now than it did when we enjoyed some success 10 years ago. Way more than I anticipated.”
During The Matches’ hiatus, the boys had all been busy doing their own thing. Members have popped up in outfits like Bird By Bird, Maniac, We Shot The Moon, Bad Cop – to name a few – and various solo outlets. While they had all definitely moved on, the pull to do something to commemorate their high school years – when they wrote The Matches debut – was strong. Harris is quick to reminisce about the album that kicked off his music career.
“I mean I was still in high school,” he says. “Being our first record, we’d been playing those songs for five or six years by that point. Just in the garage, you know? You can really hear it. If you listen to the lyrics, they definitely reflect that time. As soon as we got a bit older, the sound and lyrics on that record got really embarrassing. We felt like we couldn’t play songs like Say 18. We kind of changed the style of the band a bit after that. When we were in our early 20s, it felt like that album hadn’t aged well. It was a punk album that we were ashamed of.
“A decade later, I feel like this album has something that makes me feel really liberated – but also really embarrassed about. I’m more proud of the issues we sung about, because they were really real to us at the time. I think that’s what made our band stand out. We were writing those details that people were connecting with. When we play the songs now, I can really see why people were connecting with them – they revealed the embarrassing truth.”
Considering the reception the reunion shows have received, does this mean The Matches could be back for good? Harris is still unsure.
“It’s really hard to say,” he says. “I think we’re playing really well. Everybody is a better musician now. It’s been really fun playing with these guys. We are basing what we are doing off the demand we are receiving for it. I don’t know if this reunion means ‘…oh my god, let’s make a new album’ or ‘…holy shit, thanks to the people for bringing me back to the old days’. I just love making music and it’s been nice to connect between the old and current me. “