(Rules of The Gauntlet: The artists (In this case Baltimore Folk Punk Rocker MATT PLESS) is sent a butt ton of questions ranging from standard to stupid from which they must choose at least 12 to answer and return them to us with a minimum of tear stains).
Tell me why your music rules. Or why it sucks.
My music must rule because your website is asking me such questions.
Which Muppet would you marry, which one would you wanna knife fight in a swamp, and which one should be our global emperor? Why?
I am a Muppet. I get down in Fraggle Rock. I would have to say Dark Kermit for all three.
Tell me about your new album. The writing, vibe, production/producers, etc.
My new album is, actually, a recording of an older release with better sound quality. Nobody produced it. I just sang into a microphone and let the devil sort out the rest. It’s called Tumbleweed. Originally it came out in 2013 with bad sound quality. It was bootlegged all around the country through the DIY punk scene. This guy at a garage-run record label put it out on vinyl a while back, pressed 400 copies. I sold them all. Now it’s an eBay-worthy collector’s item. The person who did the vinyl release uploaded it to Spotify without my permission a few years ago and took a bunch of money from it unbeknownst to me. Eventually I had it removed from all online streaming and download sites but found I couldn’t re upload it to Spotify with the same files because they had initially been uploaded under the record label guy’s name and account. Spotify won’t allow that to happen, so I had to re-record it. But it worked out for the best because the new version sounds much better and the old version has joined the ranks of legendary punk rock text found only in secondhand shops, dusty basements and the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Not to mention, now I also get to collect all the money it generates. After 300 Spotify streams I can probably buy a pack of gum.
2. Piggy Bank
3. My Crooked Ways
4. Mad Child’s Lament
5. What You Will
6. The Book of You and I
8. Talkin’ Information Blues
9. The Crayon Song
10. White Picket Fences
11. My Idea of Heaven
12. In the Past Tense
What are you working on right now?
Currently drinking coffee and trying to come up with engaging and witty answers to this list of questions. Also, trying to finish writing a song for my upcoming album of all-new material which is in the mixing stages as we speak.
Why do you make your style of music? Why not polka? or Japanese symphonic folk metal? or..?
I try to write songs that could be interpreted as polka tunes or Japanese symphonic folk metal if you arranged them that way. I write skeleton versions of potential chart-topping classics on an acoustic guitar. If the tune and lyrics capture that universal magic, anything goes. My motto is, if a song looks good naked, you can dress it up any way you like, and it will still be fantastic. So, bring on the Japanese folk metal cover album.
Show us your best interpretive dance about your favorite TV show.
Show me a video camera and I’ll try to work that out for ya’.
Which voice in your head is the craziest?
The one you’re talking to.
Top 2 stupidest things you’ve ever done.
Smoked a cigarette covered in dry toothpaste on the Las Vegas strip with my friend Whitney from this punk band called Days ‘n Daze because we heard it would make you hallucinate.
Attempted to answer an interview question about getting into a knife fight with a Muppet
What’s the history of your band as told by your favorite fictional character?
Morgan Freeman’s character in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption said it best.
“Matt Pless was an odd child. He never fit in just right and filled his youthful days with imaginative play and colorful daydreams, and as misfits tend to do, upon his 18th birthday, he took off on hitchhike ride across the country with a full heart and an empty pocket. Upon reaching Oklahoma, he found himself surrounded by little else save for Jesus Christ and methamphetamine. Being mighty thirsty, he ventured up to a rundown gas station in hopes of acquiring a glass of water. It was there he met a one-eyed drifter man strumming lost chords on a beat-up acoustic guitar. He approached the rag tag gentlemen and requested a song. ‘I cannot find the time to serenade the likes of you’, the drifter said, ‘I best be on my way. Before I go however, I would like to gift you this here acoustic guitar. Beneath its strings it holds an endless catalog of the most wonderful music the world has ever heard, but it takes a special ear to hear it. I can tell with my bad eye that you have such an ear. Take this instrument and may it serve you well. It will give you songs that will take you far and wide on adventures one can only dream of.’
And with that, the one-eyed drifter disappeared around the corner leaving Matt Pless with a newfound destiny. That’s how our hero got his start writing legendary songs that would one day prove to change the world for the better.”
How often do you work on your music?
Never, because music isn’t work.
What is your philosophy? Motto?
I have a lot of those. But I guess today I’d say that…
The wolf gets lonely, but the sheep gets bored.
Don’t get hung up trying to hang on to your life.
Fuck broad-sweeping generalizations.
All of them.
What is an extravaganza? And why is having an extra “vaganza” so special?
An extravaganza is what happens when I throw a party in the Paris Catacombs with Calamity Jane, Stevie Wonder and Billy the Kid where everything is governed by black magic and card tricks. The entire asylum boards the Titanic as it sinks half-mast in the Tunnel of Love right before everybody walks the plank into the ocean of financial collapse where nobody drowns thanks to that extra Vaganza we handed out at the front gate in the vacation goody bag.
We all need a little Vaganza once in a while.
Do you have names for your instruments? If so what are they?
I can’t narrow it down to just one name because my instruments have multiple persomelodies.
What exactly is “Going apeshit?”
I dunno. You tell me? I haven’t thought about it much, but it probably has something to do with the state of the modern world. Humans are just apes fighting each other at the top of a coconut tree seeing which one can grab the biggest coconut. Eventually, in all their confusion and greed, they end up knocking all the coconuts to the ground where the one lone ape covered in the lice of a wise primate has been sitting making art with the dried-up bodies of dead bugs. This ape, who we shall call The Chosen One, ends up giving away all the coconuts to the rest of his battered and bruised brethren who have fallen empty handed from the tree top. He then keeps the largest coconut for himself and starts a cult that strangles him by his own ego just before the congregation drinks the Kool Aid at the break of dawn on judgment day.
What’s the stupidest thing you have ever heard someone say?
Not sure, people say stupid things all the time. But some of these questions are certainly up there.
Who are your influences?
Puck the Trickster, James Dean, Mother Shipton and Oscar Wilde.
Have you named your bodily parts and what are they?
Simon says their names are head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Peace or freedom? (You can’t have both.) Why?
Freedom, because if I am truly free, you can’t tell me I can’t have both.
Which band member are you positive is an extraterrestrial and what does their planet look like? Details
Considering I am currently performing as a solo artist, I would venture to guess this is only due to the fact that the extraterrestrials have an invisible cloaking device which they use to run amuck undetected on the outskirts of my inner circle’s peripheral existence while I take all the fame and glory, always one autograph away from being vaporized.
They come from the still undiscovered planet of Apestravaganza. It’s made of shit and coconuts and the locals can never afford food because they always end up eating their money.
Combining elements of folk, punk, pop and roots rock, Matt Pless can lyrically turn a phrase with the best of them. He has been compared to some of the top songwriters of our time, including John Lennon, Paul Simon, John Prine, and Bob Dylan. Known for his engaging and thought-provoking, witty word labyrinths, Matt’s music spans topics from love and loss to social commentary to ethereal train-of-thought abstractions, and everything in between.