Howards Alias

By paul

Paul:Matthew, how the devil are you?
Matt:Paul! I’m great, thanks – if a little tired, I just got home from a split shift at work and was up until 4am last night packaging albums and sticking labels and stamps on them!

Paul:First things first…I once heard that the band name was formed because the name should not reflect the band but the sound and that Howard was a character who had many sounds and many aliases. Is that true?
Matt:Yeah that is true, though I think it kind of sounds lame now so have tried to avoid telling people in the past! I guess there’s a lesson to be learned about not naming your band when you are 17 and your main motive is “being taken seriously”!

Paul:I figured I’d ask questions in a chronological style as there’s a lot to cover. Why form the band in the first place. Which bands influenced you then and which bands influence you now?
Matt:The band formed because one of my best friends, Murphy and I wanted to start a band together, simple as that. He wanted to sound like Less Than Jake, I wanted to sound like Pavement – somewhere in the middle Howards Alias was born!

Paul:As a songwriter you evolved and matured with every passing record, particularly between the Desa EP and ‘The Answer is Never’. Which  ‘era’ of Howards Alias do you feel represents the band best in terms of how you would like people to remember you?
Matt:Well I think if anything I’d just like us to be remembered for being a good, honest, rocking band. I feel like every album has just been a documentation of where the band and I were at that time, warts and all. I do feel like my songwriting has gotten a lot better over the years though, I’m still learning things all the time and I think as a songwriter that’s what you need to do, just doing the same thing over and over again is boring and plus I’m my own worst critic so I’m always trying to take chances and do something different in order to out-do myself – I think that didn’t really come across on our first album because nobody had a point of reference, then when The Answer Is Never came out people started noticing it was pretty different to the first album so I guess that’s why it was more noticeable then. I think our new album “[ep.i.phan.ic]” is actually the closest we’ve ever been to having our own sound and well, being comfortable with that I guess.

Paul:As you progressed as a band and moved away from the early ska-punk  sound to something a little more…introspective, maybe, do you think this alienated your fanbase in the same way Rx bandits, a band you have been compared to, also managed to do by gaining critical acclaim but saw their popularity slide.
Matt:I think that’s a fair statement yes, we were definitely more popular in say 2004 than we are now – but I don’t really care, our new album is much more like what I would listen to and that’s the only thing that bothers me or anyone else in the band, I think if you care too much about popularity and try to make musical choices based on it you’re only going to set yourself up to be disappointed – As an art form music is about expressing something that you feel in an honest way not faking something you don’t in order to be popular.

PaulYou say you’re not bothered by popularity and that artistic integrity is more important – but surely you wouldn’t have been able to do as much as you have during the band’s life without some kind of popularity? Can music be both popular and an art form?
Matt:Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m not bothered at all by popularity, because I definitely am, it’s just that I don’t make musical choices based on whether or not I think it will be more popular. I’d certainly have preferred it if Howards Alias had become really popular and broken the glass ceiling that seems to be hanging over the scene we came from, but it just didn’t happen. I think we were reasonably lucky in that ska-punk was just becoming really popular in the UK when we first started touring and at the time we played a variation of ska-punk, we sort of rode the wave Capdown were on but to a much lesser extent and only at the end of it; I think if that hadn’t happened there’s a good chance we’d have not gotten out of Southampton – we then changed too much for mass consumption I think, the music industry have had their grubby mits on Joe Public’s senses for too long and now most people can’t handle things that aren’t spoon fed to them in the little categorised boxes they are used to. (…my God I sound like a hippy!) With regards to the second part of your question, I am not sure. I’d like to think music can be both popular and artistic, but I’m struggling to think of a band that is really, really popular and really adventurous and artistic at the same time, it seems the way is for bands to be creative and original first, then get signed, receive a reasonable amount of exposure then release something bland. I’m not saying this is set in stone what happens every time, but I am struggling to think of a time when it hasn’t, especially with a UK band in recent years. I don’t know whether this is a label influence but I’d hazard a guess that it is, I personally know of a few big name and upcoming bands that have been forced to re-record and re-mix entire albums because the label didn’t think they were commercial enough/too experimental. I don’t really believe in the term “selling out” though, I sort of think everyone has sold out, every one of us. No matter what you do, musician, school teacher, cashier at McDonalds, it’s basically all the same – you do it for money, sometimes people get lucky and get a job they actually enjoy doing, which is really great, but in my experience (within my circle of friends) most people do jobs they hate in order to pay the rent, that’s just the way life is. It’s nigh on impossible to exist comfortably without some kind of a stable living and so everyone has to whore themselves out to some company to earn it – unless of course you are really, really lucky. Music is no different and I think for someone to call a band sell-outs is basically completely uninformed, naïve and childish. Indie labels and major labels are more or less the same in my eyes. They both exist to make money out of bands by selling their music to the public, one has less money but usually cares more about the music, the other has tons of money but probably couldn’t care less. Either way, if you’re the band, you’re more than likely going to get screwed.


Howard’s Alias initially split up in late 2005 and at the time you gave an interview stating one of the reasons was down to money. With hindsight do you regret saying this? Did the money issue reflect an unfairness of UK touring bands and receiving the standard £50 (which, bizarrely, hasn’t moved up over the years) or the fact you didn’t receive recompence for album sales?
Matt:I don’t regret saying that at all no, it was the truth and I’d much prefer to tell people the truth than make up some bullshit about musical differences or whatever. I think it reflected a little of both though – we have never really made any money from album sales other than at gigs, which only went straight back into the band anyway. I think it’s a joke that a touring band is lucky to get £50 a gig – our booking agent Ian said when he was in a touring band in the early 80s they were getting £50 a night then! It’s mental, I think also the punk scene doesn’t do itself any favours with regards to changing either, there has always seemed to be this point of view that’s banded around on the internet and within childish “punk rock” cliques that it is in someway bad to (not just make money but) actually want and aim to make money from playing music. The way I see it is that the term “punk” is basically redundant; the classic “punk” mindset (typically left-wing ideals, DIY ethics, creating something original, etc) seems to have completely gone out the window. Punk is now a fashion, a dress style and a hair cut, a fad for adolescent teenagers and twenty somethings wanting to fit in. Bands aren’t interested in doing something unique and trying to in any way to stand out or make a difference, or say anything at all thought provoking – and even the bands that claim to be “positive” punk bands or whatever are mostly rehashing early 80’s Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Flag etc – it’s like those bands did something original and made a scene out of it that had some positive influence on a lot of people but you’d think over 20 years later maybe the human race would be intelligent enough to move forward! I just can’t help over the years noticing all these glaring contradictions in the punk scene’s, I guess, self-imposed manifesto.

Paul:Do you think there needs to be some kind of happy medium between being strictly DIY and not ‘selling out’ and making money and being in a  band that’s big on myspace and part of a fashion trend?  You mention the two opposite ends of the scale – but in a way aren’t many of these  young bands who use the internet and myspace acting in a DIY manner but just in a 21st Century way rather than the traditional method we have both grown up with?
Matt:I think it’s up to everyone to decide what’s right for them I guess. I might disagree but then who the fuck am I?! – Some self-righteous, idealistic chump in a band that hardly anyone liked! …I do think the best thing any band can do though is to avoid being part of any scene or fashion trend – you’re only going to end up becoming stagnant and forgotten when people move on and oh, they will. I could think of a ton of bands that people have forgotten about when that type of music isn’t popular anymore. The general public are fucking fickle; don’t let anyone fool you in to thinking otherwise! If I’m being honest, I’m not even sure I believe that Myspace made anyone popular, though it does help to get out there to a certain extent (even though I think this is waning now). I’d like to think I have my finger at least somewhere near the pulse and I definitely didn’t hear of Artic Monkeys until they were already in the charts and releasing an album on Domino, maybe someone reading this (if anyone does!) did hear of them, in which case I’d like to be enlightened, I’m definitely not a ‘know it all’. But even if they did get popular on there, I don’t think it would work now and it’s only a few years later. Myspace is completely over loaded with bands trying to be the next big thing, it’s futile and depressing to me. Take the other day for example: I have never gone out and added people for Howards Alias or any of my bands because I sort of feel like if you concentrate on being good, people will come to you, but then I thought what the hell, I’ll try it out. I have played a couple of gigs supporting Frank Turner recently and went down pretty well at both so I decided to go to his friends list and add people explaining who I am and ask that they check me out, I figured rather than asking people randomly to add me, this way it would at least be a little connected and thought through – I hoped that would come across with the message I wrote to send to people when adding them. The first 35 people I tried to add didn’t accept adds from bands; so I gave up. I am really quite worried that both live and recorded music has become far too disposable, every man and his dog plays in a band and is asking you to check out their band on Myspace, it’s really quite scary to me.

Paul:So going back to the band, you got back together around a year later. Why?
Matt:There were many reasons we decided to get back together – mainly though that myself and Nick just wanted to. Most of the reason we even broke up was because half the band quit, it just seemed easier after what was the worst tour ever in July 2005. Nick and I played in a band called Thinkpol for a year or so after HA broke up but it just felt like it wasn’t quite right and HA is where our hearts lay. Like we had unfinished business or something horribly clichéd like that!

So this kind of brings us up to date – you went and recorded an album which is set to be released soon. How does the record sound? Is it a move on from the latter day stuff or back to the original sound? Is it all new material or are there any old Skylar/Thinkpol tracks re-worked?
Matt:Yep it’s called [ep.i.phan.ic] and is on sale now from our online shop! I think the album sounds amazing; Pete Miles is a fucking genius. It’s weird that we were pretty much the first band to record with Pete Miles and now he doing really, really well for himself. He deserves it though, as well as being one of my closest friends, he is easily the best producer in the country for rock music, like hands down I haven’t heard anyone else that is better. It sounds very different to anything we’ve done before but I think, in a good way. There are lots more influences involved, we had a very definite idea of what we wanted to achieve before we started and I think that melds everything together in to much more of a cohesive album than we’ve made before. It’s all new songs other than one, which was originally arranged as a Thinkpol song but didn’t really work out so we decided to use it for HA – it’s quite a special song for me and I was quite adamant I wanted to make it work, luckily everyone agreed!

Paul:Is Thinkpol now dead? What about Skylar?
Matt:Thinkpol is dead yeah, though I am thinking about maybe putting together some of album – we recorded 11 songs, so I figured I might make it a more cohesive collection, if only for my benefit as it was a really fun time and I’m proud of it. Skylar are sort of on an extended hiatus though not willingly! We are definitely still a band and have been talking about recording a new album for about 2 years now, we did a tour in 2006 and were going to do it then but it’s difficult. Pete Miles lives in Devon, Nick and I live in Southampton and the guy that is going to play drums on the next album, Mikkel (from the band Baby Love + The Van Dangos) is from Copenhagen, as I’m sure you can imagine, this makes things difficult. I do have, from memory I think 9 new songs written for it, but we just haven’t had time to get together and get it done. Hopefully it will be before the end of the year, but like all things with Skylar, that statement is subject to change!


Why did you decide not to work with a label on this release? Instead you asked for fans to pay in advance to cover the cost of manufacturing and pressing. How did that idea come about and has it worked?
Matt:Well, originally we planned to try and attract some major label attention but that just didn’t seem to happen so then we talked and decided that if we weren’t going to get huge, then we’d at least like to make as much money out of the albums we sell as possible – a band typically makes 10-20% of the trade cost of a cd, so in lamen’s terms, usually under £1 per cd. Obviously, the record label then makes a few quid per cd after production costs and then if it sells in a shop, the shop makes anywhere between £5 and £7 per cd – this is ridiculous. This isn’t just us either, this is what happens to EVERY band ever – The band makes the least amount of money from an album, full stop. We did initially arrange to license the album through Banquet Records for distribution purposes, Jon and Dave at Banquet are super cool and weigh things the opposite way round so the band makes the most amount of money but unfortunately after the band starting falling apart that deal kind of fell to the wayside. We realised there wasn’t any possibility we could afford to press the album ourselves and after much discussion came up with an idea: rather than following suit from Radiohead and saying people can pay what they want for the album (which I think could very well have disastrous effects on small bands), we thought that people should have to pay for it if they wanted to hear it. Apart from the thousands of pounds the recording cost, just personally I spent over 30 days working on the album and I don’t see how it’s wrong to want some kind of reward for that. We worked out that we needed 120 people to pay in advance to cover the cost of art and pressing 1000 copies, so we asked our online fans what they thought. Luckily, it seems to have worked out – We posted off 350 pre-orders this morning! We’re fucking stoked! …Now we just have to the shift the other 650! I actually think that Radiohead have a lot to answer for right now (perhaps it’s the press, who knows). I mean, they gave away their album away for free and have been hailed as reinventing the music industry and all kinds of outlandish statements like that but I think the press conveniently forget that they could only really afford to do that because they are Radiohead; one of the biggest bands in the world. They went on to sell I assume hundreds of thousands of copies of the physical release, again because of who they are, they get massive amounts of publicity and have tons of money behind them and a fan base that was already gigantic worldwide. Small bands just can’t compete with that and I think that the knock on effect can only be awful, it’s hard enough to get off the ground as it is, little bands barely scrape by and most only manage to get out there at all by selling cds and t-shirts, but surely if people start expecting music for free it’s going to make a massive impact on bands just starting out in an already over-saturated market? How is a little band supposed to be able to afford to exist in a world where you will eventually struggle to even give music away?! – Recording to an industry standard is far from cheap, even Howards Alias who I guess have been pretty lucky with being able to tour and release albums are not able to exist on that level. We could only afford to record our album because Pete Miles is one of our best friends, if he wasn’t; the album would have never been recorded.

Paul:In saying that you obviously feel 
the way of releasing music needs to change – do you think traditional CD releases are now dead?  Do bands the size of Howards Alias need labels anymore – after all, who buys a CD in a shop?!
Matt:This is something I think about all the time. Given that in the grand scheme of things, I am a very, very insignificant, I just don’t know what is best for me or anyone else struggling to be heard. I do know how I feel about music though and that is that it is worth something emotionally, whether or not it is worth something in monetary terms remains to be seen, regardless of my opinion. Obviously for the last, say, 60 years, popular music has been on the up and has become a very profitable industry, but I think if there is ever going to be a time that industry will be tested, it is now. From what I’ve read the amount of cds sold on the Internet is staggering compared to in shops and one can only assume (as I think there isn’t really any way one can really know) that the amount of “illegal” downloads completely shits on both.

Paul:So if you disagree with the Radiohead model of releasing music, what do 
you think is the way forward?  Is free music not viable in the long term?  Do you think music fans will be the death of DIY bands if they continue to freely download music as they are now?
Matt:I have no idea what is the best way forward, but I don’t think giving music away for free is. I’m not a music industry expert so I don’t know for sure, but common sense tells me that it is not viable to give it away free in a world where bands and musicians want and expect to make a living from it. If no money is being generated, then eventually there will be no living to make from music. Live music has little to no money in it, I know and have heard of plenty of popular bands that are lucky to break even on tour. I don’t think anyone can really take the blame for it though, it’s been a slow process but I do definitely worry that it is already becoming really difficult to get yourself heard.

Paul:Going back to the new album again, what do fans get for paying for the record in such a way?
Matt:Well to be honest, we weren’t sure anyone would go for it, but people seem to be in to it. We had 600 emails over 2 weeks about it and everyone was saying how sad they were and that they’d help out. In terms of getting something out of it, I’d like to think people will (aside from getting to hear the music) get some kind of satisfaction of knowing it wouldn’t have actually been possible without each one of them. Especially as we’ve broken up, it seems a nice way to get everyone who gives a shit about us to be involved personally in giving the band a good send off. We’ve also hand screened posters of the album art for the 120 people that were first to hand over their cash, all named and numbered – which is pretty rad too I think!

You’ve since announced the band is to disband again. Why? What has changed since the time you re-formed the band in 2006?
Matt:Well to be honest, our last few tours were really, really terrible. We played to about 10-15 people a night and it was pretty disheartening. Our drummer Rob then quit at the start of the year to get a proper job and get his life together. Then in April Matt, our tenor sax player left as he’d started playing sax for Foals, which totally sucked. Nick, Ranny and I talked it over and decided we’d had enough of replacing people and so the only logical decision was to break up.

Paul:HA has been a band for a long time and seen many things come and go, change and develop. Do you think the UK scene is in a stronger or weaker position now, compared to how it was when you first started out?

Matt:Perhaps controversially, I don’t actually know if there is even a real punk music scene to speak of. I realise that I’m obviously a bit jaded, but I think with the pessimistic take on things comes some form of a realistic take too.
It seems to me bands are just way too interested in looking cool and having a nice video and Myspace nowadays, as opposed to concentrating on creating something new and exciting and being good at playing. Bands tend to get their look perfected, get their identikit rock star moves perfected and not really worry about actually rocking. There are a few UK bands doing something different, but those bands are sadly struggling to get any attention amidst the sea of terrible dance moves, swept back dyed fringes, 1 million Myspace friends (that mostly don’t give a shit about music!) and tasteless, unimaginative, bland, plain fucking awful excuses for rock bands.

You were renowned as a band not afraid to do 30-date UK tours. Bands don’t do that nowadays, instead they build an online fan base and then do dates here and there. Do you think, if you were starting out now, it would be easier to be a band or more difficult?
Matt:Well, I think the issue nowadays isn’t so much the approach and more the music industry is completely saturated with bands. There are SO many bands and probably 99% of them sound almost identical, it’s gotten ridiculous. I think because of this it’s much harder nowadays to be a functioning band and actually get any recognition on any level.

Paul:You mention your last few UK tours have been badly attended and it’s a story I know a lot of other bands also tell. Yet live music is more 
popular than ever – festivals sell out in minutes and bands from the pop-punk ‘scene’ sell out Wembley Arena. Why is it that the big bands are getting bigger, even if CD sales are sliding, yet homegrown bands are not getting ‘bums on seats’, even though people are exposed to more music than ever?
Matt:I think what you have to remember is that mainstream culture and anything “underground” (and I use this term in the truest sense) are two very different things. I don’t think I agree that live music is more popular than ever at all either. Well, from my experience at least; it’s dying on its fucking arse. Festivals sell out really quickly, true, but I don’t think that’s a very reliable source. Festivals are a different kettle of fish, they are generally VERY mainstream and business orientated, they have masses of publicity and people are attracted to it to have a “festival experience” and not always just to watch bands. I mean, It’s not the Reading festival anymore, it’s the “Carling Festival” or whatever company it is now. We’re brainwashed by adverts. Mainstream culture generally now thinks going to see Foo Fighters at Wembley is going to a normal rock gig. I think a main reason for this is because there is more access to the mainstream side of things. I would assume most kids in the UK get into music now exactly the same way you or I did when we were young: read Kerrang!/NME/etc and watch MTV. However, now the mainstream has finally caught up with punk and rock music, they’ve not only quickly succeeded in making it in to a marketable product so the public can be drip fed, but also completely influenced the way those magazines operate in the process. Kids think they are underground for liking Fall Out Boy the same way I thought I was for liking Nirvana, but the difference is the alternative culture has been totally turned on it’s head and underground bands are not given any coverage, so kids just don’t find out about them. Yes people are exposed to more music, but in a much more industry led, controlled environment so where I found Nirvana/Green Day, then NoFX>Minor Threat/Fugazi>Underground punk/rock bands, kids nowadays don’t seem to get in to delving any deeper, I can only assume they are just not aware it exists or maybe don’t want to? Added to this almost everyone in western culture is now completely obsessed with being famous. Celebrities are now celebrated for doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Morons like Paris Hilton are idolised world wide – and for what?! …Sucking some dude’s dick really badly in a homemade porno?! What’s to be celebrated in that? …And Pete Doherty, don’t even get me started on that talentless waste of life – the guy is literally one of the most famous people in the country and only because he takes drugs and keeps going to jail for it, I couldn’t sing you a single one of his songs because even if I have heard them they are unispiring, bland and blend in perfectly with the rest of the bullshit you hear on the radio, making it instantly forgettable in my eyes. If these are the kind of idiots we are supposed to think are normal and aspire to be like, then we are seriously, seriously fucked.

Paul:Do you think the mainstream music press in this country is to blame for promoting ‘foreign’ bands over their English counterparts? Apart  from Gallows a lot of UK mags fail to champion British bands. It’s maybe only the NME that does it regularly and even then they do it for 
fashionable indie bands and in a way that declares them the next big thing to capitalise on a trend…
Matt:Here’s the thing, journalists could write about whatever they want, but of course they are just doing their job and instead have to write things that shift units to make the company money. So, articles on say (hypothetically!) Crazy Arm and how they are one of the only bands in the country doing something truly unique and honest and beautiful are obviously going to get ignored to make space for whatever band the majors/sponsors/advert buyers are hailing as the next big thing – simply because there’s more money in it. It’s a sad state of affairs with regards to UK magazines covering UK bands and yes, NME are the only big one that do sometimes put articles in about underground bands but – take The Shitty Limits for example, they had a full page article about them a few weeks back even though the band refused an interview (which was obviously thought of as “cool”). The Shitty Limits are in mainstream terms, completely unheard of but yet NME randomly decided to feature them, why? – Well, let’s think: Punk image: check, Angry singer: check. Early punk/garage sound: check. DIY ethics: check – It’s the exact thing that is marketable at the moment because of Gallows and it makes NME seen to be up to date when in fact they rarely have a clue. Kerrang! though, that’s a fucking joke of a magazine, even once you’ve been bombarded with the pages and pages of adverts, in the more literate reviews/articles they are still just blatantly copying from a press-release, it’s a bunch of A-Level sub-standard London wannabe shmoozers playing the game, albeit, poorly. They wouldn’t know what good music was if it jumped up and kicked them in the face. I think Gallows are an interesting topic of discussion, they are a punk band, they started as a DIY sort of punk band, hell the girl (Alex Curtis @ Thr33 designs!) that did their artwork did art for HA and Skylar! but at the moment it’s not uncommon for the singer to be on the cover of Kerrang! or NME and for a British punk band that is a big deal. Now, I realise those guys read Punktastic and are constantly debated about so I’ll tread carefully, starting an argument about them is not what I want at all, I think we’ve all read enough of those. I don’t know them, though I am friends with Lew from Captain Everything! who knows them really well so I can only assume they are good guys and just want to rock out and play music all for the right reasons. However, with all due respect to them, it seems to me they are mostly popular because the singer is really angry and outspoken, covered in tattoos and often violent at gigs and from where I’m standing not many other reasons. This is NOT, I repeat NOT a slight on them, but the way the press hypes something. Sure I’d heard of them because I read Punktastic and go to gigs regularly, but most people know of them because NME hailed them as the rebirth of British punk bands (I guess like an updated Sex Pistols or something) and within a month of them first being mentioned they were on the cover – however, like almost every band that makes it big ever, the music and indeed the rest of the band took a back seat in articles and the focus has always been on the singer, apparently much to his dismay (which I read he felt in response to NME saying he was the No. 1 coolest person in the world). I have to admit, I have only heard one of their songs (In The Belly Of A Shark from Guitar Hero!) so am not an authority on their sound but I guess as they are from this scene I feel some kind of vague affinity with them and so I read their interviews and look out for articles on them as I’m genuinely interested and I truly hope it works out for them, however, I’m not trying to put words in anyone’s mouth but if I were them, I’d be worried about doing a new album, I mean, there has to be a lot of unfair pressure on that band right now to deliver and there is only so long an image can hold up a band’s reputation. Of course, hopefully they’ll release a new album and the press might take note of the music a little more and push them as a great band with good songs, but more than likely they’ll push some kind of story about the album/band and even more probably; just the singer. This to me is, well, sad. It’s like the music just isn’t important to the press nowadays (if it ever was) and as long as there is some kind of juicy story to be twisted in to a marketable shape, then they’ll go with that over how good the sound the band make is. Boo the music press and their feeble inadequacies.


Has Myspace ruined a UK band’s work ethic? Has it made people lazier,
making music disposable by making it so easy to consume?
Matt:I’m not sure if it’s lazy people have become or just if times they are a’ changin’. I mean I definitely grew up thinking that going out and playing all the time was the way to get noticed and get people liking your music but it seems the thing now is not play so much and concentrate on internet promotion, Myspace etc. It has definitely made music much more disposable though, that’s a given. It’s troubling to me, I worry that in say, 10 years you won’t be able to give your music away – harking back to the Radiohead rant I had earlier in this interview (!) I think that if Radiohead’s latest strategy for releasing music is the standard that is being set it can only mean bad things for small bands and the future of the music industry in general. Making the value of music nothing can only mean people won’t pay for it when there is a charge, and little bands pretty much need to charge something to keep going.

Paul:NoComply, Capdown, Howard’s Alias…where have all the good UK “ska”- punk bands gone?
Matt:We all went prog-emo then broke up!

Paul:You’ve gone through a lot of band members and started (and finished)  many
other bands and projects. Now you’re working on your first solo record – does this mean Matthew Reynolds is a hard man to work with?
Matt:Haha, Probably! No, but Howards Alias has had, I think, 22 members, it’s fucking mental! The thing with it is, compared to most bands we’ve been a band a really long time and the only reason we’ve continued is by getting new members. I think out of those 22 we’ve only kicked out 2. Everyone else left because they didn’t want to tour all the time and wanted a life. I guess where I have been (for want of a better term) the driving force behind the band it’s just ended up that I’m still here. Music is in my blood and it’s all I know how to do. I write songs so often that it just sort of worked out that HA was not enough for me, it was always where my heart really was for a long time but creativity is strange like a tap to me and I find if I try to turn it off it gets clogged up. I had to start other projects to enable me to get all my songs out. First there was Skylar, which is a reggae band. Then I did an e.p on my own and have recently released my first full length. I also have an (ahem) “Forest Metal” project happening called Death Panther, not to mention me and Ranny from HA are starting a new band, which will hopefully become our new “main” musical thing. I wouldn’t say I’m hard to work with no. I think the only thing I’m really guilty of is being driven – when I want to do something I like to give it 110% all the time, I live and breathe music and I guess lots of people don’t feel that strongly about it so when it’s time to quit your job, go on another tour, make no money from it and sleep on bedroom floors every night, some people just aren’t as up for it as I am, which is understandable.


Now it’s all over what is your one defining memory of Howard’s Alias?  

Matt:I don’t think I have one defining memory and more a massive collection of memories, happy and sad. Mostly happy though, I’ve had a fucking serious amount of fun over the years and have gotten to see and experience some things I could have only dreamt of.

Paul:Finally…is this really the end for Howard’s Alias or can we expect a 2015 reunion tour?
Matt:It is the end yes. It’s very sad and we’re very sorry to let it go and move on, but then again, it was just a band. After we broke up the first time I learnt that the hard way, I had totally gotten myself in to thinking that the band was everything to me and then when we broke up I was stuck and didn’t know what the hell I was going to do with my life, I’d never considered that I wouldn’t be playing music all the time before that so it came as a shock, I think learning to accept this has made me a much stronger person and definitely was a big issue I dealt with in the lyrics for the new album. Things seem to just run their course and when it’s time to end it you just need to accept it.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]