From Bergantino: Matthew Meyers hails from Sydney, Ohio and is not only known for his massively impressive Appalachain-style beard but his funky and soulful bass playing. Read about what drives this gentle giant and how he formed into the player he is today.
Okay Matt, right out of the gate, we need to know about that awesome outstanding beard of yours. This is a question Lee Presgrave made me ask you!
Ah yes, the bet! So, I'm a hockey fan and I might make a side bet here or there. Seven years ago, my bearded bassist buddy (say that five times fast) and I made a bet we would shave our beards if our team missed the playoffs and well…we didn’t and I saw my baby face for the first time in a long time. And since then I have not shaved once.
What have you been up to lately?
The pandemic really threw a wrench in my plans for 2020 as I'm sure other folks as well. I dumped my fretless bass funds into a Pro Tools studio build and began learning to use that DAW. It really is nice to be able to organize your thoughts and to have an outlet for ideas. I also began Jeff Berlin's lessons to improve my reading/writing skills and that has been an amazing experience. I have recorded bass with The Funk Factory on our EP we released this summer and I'm back in the studio Dec 5th and 6th to do another EP so we've been busy writing as well as doing live streams and limited outdoor events.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Xenia, Ohio and then moved to Mobile, Alabama at an early age. I went to school in Mobile Alabama, Marietta Georgia, and Sidney Ohio growing up.
What makes the bass so special to you and how did you gravitate to it?
Bass is the best part of the music I grew up with, all of the Motown and music my mother played growing up. I was exposed to some of the best bass players of our times. So, I'm sure that has to be what made me appreciate the instrument and maybe obsess a bit, too! It's amazing to hear what folks have done with the instrument throughout the years from the introduction and reintroduction of tapping and slap bass to how bass-forward the mix bass has become in modern recordings.
How did you learn to play?
When I was still in high school, my best friend, Mitch Lawson, played guitar in a metal cover band on the weekends and their bassist departed a week before they had a show. He honestly showed me how to play 13 songs in a week and I practiced on my mom's old acoustic with five strings until his brother lent me his bass to use. We went on to form the first original band I ever played with who are still a great band playing today! Ever since then, I have been trying to adapt to different styles and playing techniques while working on reading and music theory as I am a “self-taught” bassist.
Are there any other instruments you play?
I have been known to play bass and drums at the same time when there isn't a drummer available and I did get my first drum lesson from Doug Johns at a clinic but I'm just going to stick with bass if it's all the same.
How has your playing evolved over the years and have you made changes from your start until now?
I'd say that my playing has made some drastic progression in life, no doubt. I started off with metal, then after learning some punk covers we began to write and I have been doing mostly original music ever since. So far I have played with punk bands, metal bands, bluegrass bands, jazz bands and jam bands. I started playing a four string with three fingers to learn that gallop in the Iron Maiden songs then moved to using a pick for fast punk rock. Then I heard Les Claypool and began learning how to slap and tap which threw me down the rabbit hole of Flea, Victor, Larry, Marcus and the folks who can do it justice. Along the way I've learned the importance of giving the songs what they need on bass and to serve the music in whatever technique I use to approach it.
Describe your playing style, tone, strengths and areas that can be improved on the bass.
I'm a big (6’3”) fan of diversity in music so I like to play and learn as many styles as is humanly possible. I can do slap, double-thumb, fingerstyle, plectrum, tapping, and right-hand muting well. I would love to know more about soloing vocabulary and harmonics, as well as reading and writing so those are parts that I focus on the most in my daily routine.
Where do you see the instrument 5, 10 or even 20 years from now?
I see live instrumental music coming back into the fold again and that's a great future for all bassists. I've recently gone with a Midi setup and that changes the game on the flexibility of the bass quite a bit and it’s a new road for me and one I look forward to exploring.
What four bass players influenced you the most?
Growing up in the punk scene, we were lucky enough to have folks like Matt Freeman show us the ropes on rock bass and how to destroy a four string. The first time I heard “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” by Primus, I locked myself down and really began to see the instrument in a whole new light, so Les Claypool for the win and the reason I play 6 string basses. I'm not exactly sure how it happened and I believe that all bass players have him in their blood the first time a broken string cuts you, but Jaco has been a huge influence but more as an idol than a direct influence. “Soul Intro” is just huge and his version of “Donna Lee” is mind altering. Lastly.was Mr. BakithiKumalo. I'd give credit to my folks for listening to Paul Simon a lot and giving me the opportunity to hear, once again, what potential the instrument has. His style of speaking with a fretless bass is mesmerizing. I've never been a fretless player myself but he definitely makes you want to be one.
Let us know what you are currently working on.
I have a recording studio now so I've been hard at work learning how to use Pro Tools. I have also gone Midi with my effects pedals and that has quite the learning curve, but I love the ease of operation now. The Funk Factory has an EP out and we are headed to the studio to record our next album.
How’d you find Bergantino, and can you share your thoughts on our bass gear?
Ah, Bergantino…the worst kept secret of NAMM. I first got to hear the B|Amp at the winter NAMM show and was glued to the floor listening to the flexibility and tone that it put out. That was my first time hearing where I wanted to be, sonically. So, now I have a forté HP and an HG312 cabinet. I really couldn't be more content with my tone. I think there are two crowds in the bass world: The baked-in-sound amp folks and the transparent amp folks. I'd like to think I fall in the latter category. I have a very, very nice bass and I love to listen to it sing. I think my Bergantino forté HP really lets the instrument come through without being sterile or dry. I assume it's magic but my EQ is pretty near neutral now and it's HUGE sounding!
Tell us about your favorite bass or basses.
Easy Question: I have one bass, It’s pretty famous and I call her Helga. Helga is a Michael Tobias Design 635-24 made with an ash body and neck with a birdseye maple fretboard and a myrtle burl top. If you could pull the sound a bass makes out of my head, that would be it.
What else do you like to do besides playing bass?
I'm an avid gamer and one day would love to have a restaurant because I love to cook. Bass is pretty much my life for a while, honestly.
What have you had more time to work on or explore since COVID?
I've really had more time to focus on reading music and getting ideas out of my mind and into recorded material. It's a lot of fun to explore ideas and hear the final outcome as you originally expected it to turn out and then have your band mates take it a step further to its fullest potential. I don't have much time to put ideas down while out playing all the time so it really is nice.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes, I would like to let folks know how kind and helpful all of the folks at Bergantino have been to me and let you know you are appreciated very much by so many in the bass world. I can't wait to see what you think of next! Thanks everyone who loves music and thanks to my sister Sue, I miss ya…
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About Bergantino Audio Systems:
Bergantino Audio Systems has been dedicated to developing and building the highest quality audio products and bass guitar amplification systems since 2001.
We have received numerous accolades within the musical instrument industry and continue to look forward with our designs and our unique approach to developing products.