by Martin Chang
Guitarist and vocalist Tomo and drummer Glenn Mattews have built a bond based on the sharing of Blues and Rock and Roll. Through this connection they create words and music that flows out of them with a unique flavor, Tomo likes to call it “just jamming.” Together, Mattews and Tomo are known as Heavy Vinyl.
Mattews met Tomo through happenstance when Mattews was working at a grocery store and noticed that Tomo was wearing a Beatles t-shirt. “I asked him ‘do you play music’ and he said ‘yeah I play guitar’ I said ‘cool I play drums.’ We exchanged numbers right there on the spot at the checkout counter,” Mattews said. Tomo was the one who asked to exchange numbers. Mattews immediately found Tomo’s focus on music and tenacity refreshing. He said, “I found it pretty bold. I liked that actually, that he wanted to get together right then and there. I’ve jammed out with other musicians here in town and they are as forward but they don’t follow up.
They tell me ‘let’s make a point to jam out this day’ and ‘this day’ comes and they never arrive, so it’s been frustrating. He’s one of the first people I met that ‘this day’ comes and they actually show up.” Originally, Tomo and Mattews formed a four-piece band. Tomo describes the band at that point as “a solid sound.” But, as Tomo said, “life gets in the way sometimes” and they eventually became a two-piece band.
Sharing and discovering music is an important part of Heavy Vinyl and Tomo and Mattews friendship. Tomo said that Mattews helps him “widen his horizon” and considers Mattews a “music connoisseur.” Together Heavy Vinyl discovered bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin. Tomo enjoys discovering music with Mattews. He said, “We both engulfed ourselves (in music history.) It was awesome we got to experience it together.” They also shared a love of shows and films about the history of rock and roll. They both shared the HBO show “Vinyl” and the documentary “Sound City” with each other.
Yet it was a song that Tomo showed Mattews that defined the music that they would create. The song was “Bring Me My Shotgun” by Lightning Hopkins and it changed the way Mattews looked at Rock and Roll. “I had never heard anything like what he had showed me,” he said. “There’s artists that he (Tomo) finds, I don’t know where he gets them and it just blows my mind. So when he showed me that song, it was like ‘wow you can do this with Blues?’ Let’s infuse that in our music. We are still trying to achieve that goal. ”
It is this shared love of similar music that is the building blocks of Heavy Vinyl’s sound. Tomo feels that the music fits in a unique way because of a shared communication. He said, “it always comes back to the Blues with us. Everyone has natural music in them their sound, their tone. Our tones are off the spectrum weird, There’s this weird hip-hop beat that Mattews does, but he tries to make it rock and roll and he makes it rock and roll. I play a punkish way. Then I try to turn it into Blues. We always try to turn it into Blues.”
With this connection, Heavy Vinyl is able to create new music and lyrics on the spot. During the interview two people noticed Tomo’s guitar and a man asked him to play a song. Suddenly Heavy Vinyl was playing a show. Tomo decided to play a song that he was working on in his head. The song came out of him fully formed. Words like “she does the boogie in the corner of my mind” may have existed somewhere in a notebook, but Tomo was inspired. He made the words fit into the tradition of Blues and Rock that Heavy Vinyl treasure so much. Even Mattews used his hands to add hand claps to add to the song. KernPoetry.com was lucky enough to capture the sound of this moment. Below is a clip of this moment of music creation. The entire clip was not included for sound quality reasons. If you as a reader would like to hear the whole song despite these concerns please comment below.