Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Q&A: Matt Riggle Of 41 Gorgeous Blocks

I've known Matt Riggle for many, many years. Its been a pleasure watching him perform, from the old days in the late 90s on through the continuing career of his band 41 Gorgeous Blocks. In 2004 he convinced me to start performing again after a long hiatus, and the blocks and him even learned my songs and invited me onstage to perform with them, eventually leading to a 2005 U.S. tour during which Dr. Frank of MTX performed with them at a show and allegedly stole Matts black hoodie, Zen Sushi refused to pay us even one dollar for performing and Matt and I recited Back to the future part one verbatim during a long all-night drive. Hes very talented, a great live performer, great singer, guitarist and songwriter and a good friend. He is also now a published author! Im happy to finally have a Q&A with him ready for your beady eyes to finally read.

Q: What inspires you to write lyrics, and what of your songs are your favourites and why?

A: Bad things tend to inspire me. The worse, the better. I guess I like "Christmas Without You" and "Rock Island" because they're about my brother. Also, being able to sing "It's Over" over the years has made it easier to let certain eras of my life end. That sounded stupid.

Q: What's currently some of your favourite music?

A: I don't vary too much when it comes to the music I love. The Mr. T Experience, Violent Femmes, Petty, Green Day, All, Descendents, Bracket, and the Beach Boys are never too far way. Occasionally, I'll find myself listening to only They Might Be Giants for a year or so. Oh, I've been on a huge Chixdiggit kick for the last few month (the song "Summer Please" simply never gets old to me). Of course there are more bands, but how am supposed to list them all? I hate rankings. Oh and, damn, I love that ukulele song in The Jerk.
Q: Any guilty pleasures you listen to that you'd rather not name?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What are some of your favourite books? What's the last thing you read?

A: I somewhat recently discovered Robert Cormier and am working my way through his YA novels. Just finished "Tunes For Bears To Dance To" which was sad but great, though that pretty much sums up all his books. I'm also waist-deep in Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-sided" which is totally kicking ass. I read mostly non-fiction for years but am proud to announce I'm back on a fiction kick. I'm also a huge, huge Cometbus fan. I actually wrote a lengthy paper on his stuff for school. Haha. Please don't tell him that.

Q: What sort of guitar/guitars you play right now and why?

A: These days it's mainly the Les Paul Junior. I've always been a Fender fan and would often give an over-exaggerated roll of the eyes when someone said they preferred Gibsons. But, yeah, I get it now. Still love my strats, though.

Q: What sort of guitar amps do you use and why? Do you use effects pedals and why?

A: I play a Marshall JCM 900 or a Marshall JMP. Both are 50 watt and played through a 4x12 or 2x12 cab. No effects. Just a tuner and solo boost. Oh and I have an on-again/off-again relationship with the gain knob.

Q: Are any of the old 41GB CDs still available? Which one is your favourite and why?

A: Yeah, all are still available in some form or fashion, even if it's just me burning it for someone. I'm working on getting everything available for free online. My favorite is probably the last one we did, Querulous, but then again, I would say that, woudn't I? And as always, I'm looking forward to the next one.

Q: Tell us about the unusual artwork you've used on Tshirts and CD covers. I know there is an interesting story behind them that people might like to hear.

A: Yeah, thanks. My older brother Bobby drew all that stuff. He died in 1997 when he was 20, leaving behind a pretty big mountain of cartoons. I could say it's an homage or a way of keeping him "with us," but really it's just that I love his stuff. In fact, it was on our albums and shirts (and drumheads) long before '97.

Q: Are you a back to the future aficionado?

A: I'm not sure about the "a-word", but I do know for a fact that somewhere lives a hi-8 tape of you and me reciting that entire movie while driving through an insane fog storm outside of Pittsburgh, pausing here and there only to scream at the occasional near-wreck scenario.

Q: Are there any crazy or funny tour stories you can share with us?

A: This one time, you and me recited Back To The Future while driving through an insane fog storm and screaming outside Pittsburgh.

Q: You've been published recently. Tell us about that.

A: A short story I wrote was just published by Wide Array in a book called "Upstart Crows II: True Stories." WA is an indie publisher run by two of the funniest and smartest people I've ever met. I rarely use these words--and, frankly, am embarrassed to use such a cliche when talking about writing-- but being on those pages is "truly an honor." Check 'em out: http://www.widearrayonline.com/

Q: What's next for you and for 41GB? What are you working on other than the band?

A: Personally?
We're practicing regularly again and looking at doing some more shows and a new album in 2010. Personally, other than graduating from college in a few days, I'm just chipping away at some writing projects and looking for a job.

Random topic round. comment on one or all topics.

Topics: Rubiks cube, Rubiks snake, Simon, Guitar hero
Guitar Hero is a perfect metaphor for what is wrong with our modern culture. Wait, on second thought, it's not metaphoric. It's literal. It is the problem.

Topics: PBS, history channel, discovery channel, Spike TV
I listen to NPR and only watch the Daily Show, Colbert, Real Time and Curb, so... it's hard to say.

Topics: pro wrestling, UFC, MMA, boxing, football
I don't know what most of those letters are, but I can safely say that professional sports are a perfect metaphor for what is wrong with our culture. Wait, that one's REALLY not metaphoric.

Topics: lowrider cars, rims, bass systems, hydraulics
Simply not applicable.

Topics: airports, airplanes, the concorde, bicycles
I like airports, planes, and bikes.
The concorde can suck a fat one, though (whatever it is).

Topics: energy drinks, coffee, juice, tea, beer, wine, liquor
No, YES, yes, nah, YES, eh, sure.

Topics: vegas, gambling, slot machines, card games
Oddly, non-online video poker is the only thing that does it for me. Thanks, Grandpop.

Topics: magicians, renaissance faires, reno 911, southpark
Used to want to be one, never been, prefer The State, and have never even tried to want to care.