Interview: Matt Chanway
An instrumental guitarist, Matt Chanway is also the lead guitar player for Canadian’s death/trash metal act, “Assimilation”. Independent of “Assimilation”, Matt has just released a self titled, instrumental CD, featuring a fusion of progressive rock and metal. A full-length album from “Assimilation” will be released this March as well, entitled: “The Laws of Power”.
Matt also has a diploma in guitar performance through the University of West London, and in his spear time he teaches guitar at home in Vancouver. Louder Than War was able to trade questions and answers with Matt about music and metal.
Louder Than War: Do you feel that in some ways it’s more difficult to write an instrumental composition, than to add lyrics?
Having played in vocal bands my entire musical journey beforehand, I would say as a guitar player and solo artist, writing instrumental compositions is on another level of difficulty than writing songs for a vocal band (for me at least). Rather than lay a backdrop for a vocalist to put their melodies and expressions over top of, you are essentially the driving force of the mood and melody of the entire piece. I believe it’s through this extent of control that you transcend role of songwriter and move into the place of composer.
Growing up what types of music influenced you?
I grew up on old-school styled progressive metal primarily, Nevermore, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus, Aghora, Dream Theater, King Diamond. I also really dug a lot of solo artists like Greg Howe and Shawn Lane a little later on. I cherish my influences listen to their stuff each day.
What life experiences influences your own music?
Very good question and it’s almost difficult to answer objectively, my head-space tends to be quite peaceful when I’ve got a guitar in my hand. Writing compositions, for me it’s almost like siphoning out my emotions and using them to create something artful. As such it’s not always easy to point to one specific life experience, but I think if you listen to my debut you can hear contrasts of dark and light – pieces with melancholy undertones, and pieces with uplifting melodies as well. So for me that kind of represents channeling my inner energy, be that positive or negative at a given moment, and using it to just create and hopefully inspire.
Will you be touring in support of your new album?
At present I do not have plans to tour off my solo album, at some point I would love to get a run of guitar clinics going. I am currently playing shows however with my band Assimilation, an old-school death/thrash act based out of Vancouver. We have an album that is dropping soon, and an EP you can check out at assimilation.ca
What is your insight on the music industry?
I believe the music industry is going exciting places currently especially in the indie area, platforms like YouTube really allow for all kinds of expressive unique artists to be heard. It’s not just these bloated record companies ramming the flavor of the month down people’s throats. All kinds of artists, from rap to jazz to metal now have a voice that they did not have at the turn of the millennium. The tools and technology available allow bands to record and distribute their own music and puts a lot of power back into their hands. It’s exciting to see and I really look forward to seeing where the industry goes.
Do you feel that heavy metal is still alive and well musically?
The progressive/metal genre is totally alive and well and it is truly insane the amount of talented artists out there. So many new up and coming bands, they ALL can play so if you want to stand out you had better have a unique voice musically. Metal it seems really has that rabid fanbase in Europe, you look at the festivals over there and the turnouts are insane, people go wild seeing bands like Arch Enemy play live. You also have as I alluded to previously social media allowing these technically-accomplished bands to build a fan base much more rapidly and gain a platform. In the last few months, I’ve seen some just jaw-dropping releases in the metal/prog genre. Alluvial’s debut “The Deep Longing for Annihilation”, Jason Richardson’s debut ‘I’ as well as the newest Animals as Leaders album. Just a wild time to be a metal or music fan in general.
What will you be working on in 2017 and beyond?
I want to keep getting the word out on my debut album and keep getting it in the hands of people who love progressive metal. I am working on music for a sophomore release. My band Assimilation (assimilation.ca) is dropping our full-length debut “The Laws of Power” in March. Keep your eyes out for that.
For more information:
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.