“DIAMOND IN THE NYC ROUGH – MATT KATZ-BOHEN” OF BLONDIE

  • Words: Erin O'Brien

EO: Hi Matt! Such a pleasure to have you join us at Spindle Magazine. We love to read about a homegrown NYC success story like you! So do you feel fortunate that you grew up in the greatest city in the World? (Okay, London you are second!)

MKB: I do feel very fortunate about that. I started going to CBGB’s when I was 13 for the Hardcore Matinees – Gorilla Biscuits, Burn, Supertouch, Marauder. It was a short walk from my house. My parents were worried when I would come home bruised and kicked in the head. I also met my wife and songwriting partner, Laurel when we were 12. So NYC has been an incredible place to grow up. Luckily, I also get to spend a lot of time in London, my other favorite city.

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EO: Tell me about your early musical start in the NYC-based band Daddy versus your current role in the world-famous band Blondie of today?

MKB: In Daddy, I played guitar, programmed keys and ran backing tracks. In Blondie I’m on keyboards, plus some Ableton Live playback. Laurel, my wife, and I were the primary songwriters in Daddy, so of course we were influenced heavily by Blondie. In Daddy, we would get a lot of weirdos showing up at our shows – which is, of course, what we wanted. Blondie is similar, with more weirdos coming to the shows, and larger and more exotic locations.

EO: I didn’t realize you and your unique and fabulous wife Laurel co-wrote a few songs for Blondie including one of my all-time favorite song – featuring the ever talented Beth Ditto called “A Rose By Any Name.” What was your story behind this powerful song? I love it so much! One of my best friend’s has transgendered from woman to man recently, and I will always “love him just the same!”

MKB: Thank you for saying that. Yes, I love that song and I love the message. We wrote it when Laurel was pregnant. We didn’t want to find out the gender before the birth. Laurel asked me, “What would you like to say to our baby when he/she is born?” And the lyrics just flowed from there.

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EO: What are you wearing right now at this exact second? Debby Harry was a huge Fashion Icon back in the day and I have noticed you have a very particular influential style yourself. What designers do you like and how would you describe your unique style?

MKB: [Laughs] I’m wearing a Soboye Hoodie from friend and nightlife luminary, Mark Moore of S Express, a Londoner; black Jeans from Trash and Vaudeville  – thanks Jimmy Webb; black leather converse from friend and Keyboard tech, Brian Applegate. Thanks Brian. My personal style is called “dressed by the queens.” Thanks to Laurel and Jonny Osofsky at Kasuri in Hudson.

EO: What’s your favorite quote? Or motto you live by?

MKB: “I should have gotten the mangos.” But seriously – you can’t do better than any RuPaul quote, the ultimate being. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

EO: If you could have lunch with someone who has passed away, who would it be? What would you ask them? Where would you go?

MKB: That would have to be Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, or Allan Watts. Probably would go for a coffee, then switch to whisky. I’d ask them everything. Trungpa was a Tibetan Buddhist who was dedicated to understanding the Judeo-Christian mind and bringing Buddhism to it.

EO: What are your thoughts on the bands/musicians of today? Do you feel that technology/Internet has weakened or strengthened the music process today?

MKB: It’s both weakened and strengthened it. Weakened the actual need to play an instrument, but strengthened the ability to remix, edit, and micro-edit obsessively. Plus many, many more people have access to a technology that used to be so cost-prohibitive that it was only accessible to a tiny elite sliver of the music industry. This part is amazing, and not a bad thing. You can get a laptop, mic, recording interface and software for a few hundred bucks now, as opposed to thousds of dollars back then. So it’s really just a different state of creativity now – not better or worse. I don’t think it’s right to judge it. There is some great music being made today, all over the place.

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EO: Favorite Band? Favorite Song? Song that basically sums up your life?

MKB: It’s a tie, and possibly and unexpected one: “Solid” by Ashford and Simpson; and “Etude Op 35 Number 12″ by Chopin. Oh yeah, “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie.

Thank you Matt! Your B-Day party was exactly my style – an intimate NYC Basement Bar where talented NYC Artists/Friends just have a fucking good time – doing what they want and how they want to do it! Viva NYC Kidz! Erin O’ Oh and your wife Laurel did some killer live tribute songs – wow, she was even swaying like Steven Tyler. Fierce, you guys! You are a true “Diamond In The NYC Ruff” my Friend! Peace, Luv & NYC Musicians!

Matt is currently on tour with Blondie for their Rage and Rapture Tour featuring Garbage as their opening act, with the beautiful most fierce Redhead in the world, Shirley Manson. On August 1st 2017, Matt and Blondie will perform at the Beacon Theater in his hometown of NYC.

Their new album ‘Pollinator’ is available on iTunes, Amazon and Listen on Spotify. This album brings me back to Blondie’s early days with a twist of new edge. Blondie collaborates with Sia, Charli XCX, Dev Hynes, and Dave Sitek. I cannot stop listening to this album, even had it on in the backyard while clearing trees with my roommate. I seriously love this album so much, the lyrics and the melody just make sense and have helped me through a very tough time in my life recently. The song “When I Gave Up On You”  speaks to me as if directly – “​When I gave up on you…. I took my time…..Waiting for reasons to change my mind but there were none.” Sometimes we stick around and try to justify why we want something to work so bad, but there are simply no reasons for it to continue, and that’s okay. Giving up doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, it can actually be a positive and peaceful blessing for the future. I feel so fortunate to know this amazing blessed Musician, Father, Husband and all around Cool Ass Muther Fucker – Matt Katz Bohen.