Beyond the Music: Matt Wentz

Matt Wentz

There are some excellent guitarists that earn a living and hone their chops on this beach. Dave Matthews’ axeman, Tim Reynolds, is probably the most renown, but I can easily include Joe Mapp, Ruth Wyand, Kevin Roughton, and Matt McGuire on this list. Each top drawer, yet each practicing a totally different discipline. But their abilities allow them to be able to cross genres, with jazzman Mapp easily able to rock and whip out country licks, for example.

Conversely, there are the musical progeny of these players that have made their marks in bold strokes, locally and beyond. Of these, Matt Wentz safely hovers above some very accomplished players — on a world-class scale.

The multiple times I’ve heard him, I found myself muttering expletives, (in admiration, mind you). This man is exceptionally good. His talent, seemingly, knows no bounds. Like the aforementioned players, worthy of your attention.

I asked Matt my questions, and here are his responses…

Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?

A: I was brought here as a toddler.

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: House cats wearing turtlenecks, a forgotten marionette, whispers from ancient Egypt. I'm afraid of boundaries, and I try too hard.

Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?

A: I think Alice Coltrane was making music beyond comparison in the early ’70s. Major album recommendations: "World Galaxy" and "Journey in Satchidananda." I like when music strives to be greater than reality, rather than reflect it.

Q: What is it about music that touched you?

A: I don't know. It's my main coping mechanism

Q: What was the first concert you attended?

A: Robert Plant, but I've never really romanticized that show.

Q: Are you self-taught?

A: Not really. I took lessons from Joe Mapp and had a musical upbringing. I'm always trying to teach myself new things, though.

Q: Besides guitar, what other instruments do you play?

A: I'd say my other instrument is the DAW (digital audio workstation), or computers. I try to be up to date on the technical side of making music. I try to play a little bit of everything, with the exception of wind instruments. I want to learn to play flute.

Q: How many different musical projects (duos, trios, bands) are you involved in?

A: My main things are Zack Mexico, HNDCLW, and Mëlk. I have played with friends in South Carolina and the Triangle, too. I play with a random assortment of folks during the OBX summer staycation. The newest summertime band I'm excited about is “Harrison & Wentz”. We'll be mystifying the masses with our tinsel and regalia all summer long.

Q: What's your favorite venue to play on the Outer Banks?

A: Trio and Roadside are great for me. The Bonzer Shack has somehow created an engaging place to see a show that doesn't need to be catering to any particular demographic. They take risks, and I appreciate them for that.

Q: Musicians usually play for those “moments” when everything clicks. Do you have a favorite moment?

A: I like when everything falls apart.

Q: What do you do in the off-season?

A: I'd been working at a venue in Raleigh this past winter, and I had painted houses on the OBX the two off-seasons before that.

Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?

A: Definitely. Joe Mapp, Dan Martier, John Saturley, my mom and dad, Jacob Richardson, Mick Vaughn, Betsy Paulson, Buzz Bessette, Bob Ebert, Trevor Clark, and Elijah Melanson. Those are definitely the folks that motivated me in my youth.

Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A: Brett Nash. He's the only bird I wish to flock with in this digital dystopia.

Q: What one song have you heard that you wish you'd written?

A: “Love is Everywhere” by Pharoah Sanders.

Q: If you could choose a time period in which to perform music, when would it be?

A: I guess I would choose now. The rewards of the past are not outweighed by its setbacks. We should be striving to create for a better future.

Q: Do you listen to new music?

A: Yeah. Secret Guest, Breathers, Niecy Blues, Contour, ET Anderson, Jenny Besetzt, No One Mind, Blois, She Returns From War, Acid Chaperone, 2 Slices, Zephyranthes, Wolf Eyes, John Saturley, HH Goat, Ted T Tucker, David Lynch, Chai.

Q: The music business can be tough. Did you ever consider quitting?

A: No. I just live a low maintenance life, so I can focus my energy on music and art, whether it's financially rewarding or not.

Q: McCartney or Lennon?

A: McCartney, but I shift on this a lot. …Yoko Ono rules: change my mind.

Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage?

A: Some time in middle school at a Kelly's open mic night.

Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?

A: Songs can come from clicking random article on Wikipedia to gain inspiration for me, or rolling dice or drawing Tarot cards. I just care about music and sound first, so I typically have a Dadaist approach to lyrics. I try to filter it through my little tiny heart, though.

Q: Do you have any hobbies that aren’t music-related?

A: I'm trying to get into filmmaking, but mostly so I can write music for the films. I like learning about science, history, and politics.

Q: Your favorite album?

A: Probably “Discipline” by King Crimson, for all-time. I fluctuate a lot.

Q: Your favorite song?

A: Lately, “How Insensitive” by Jobim.

Transplanted to the Outer Banks from the wilds of the L.A. area, singer-songwriter Scott Sechman has shared stages with Bill Medley, Tom Rush, Al Wilson, and the Grass Roots during his ongoing music career. His column, Beyond the Music, appears Fridays in COAST.

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