Matt Sonic & The High Times
Music has been an integral part of Matt Sonic's life for almost as long as he can remember. While his current fuzz-laden rock'n'roll style is not your typical therapeutic past time, for Matt Sonic, music provides a basic cosmological foundation. "I was kind of a handful as a young kid, and my dad found that the best way to calm me down was to listen to records through headphones," Sonic recalls. "I think I've been fixated on writing songs from a very young age - I'm always writing songs, it's just what I do."
Sonic first picked up a guitar at age seven, and played his first gig at a primary school Christmas party. "We played to about 100 people in total, and we played mainly Elvis Presley and Stevie Ray Vaughan covers. We called ourselves the Massive Murdoch Band - maybe we should've kept going with that name," he laughs.
Sonic kept up his musical activities, and eventually found himself filling in on bass duties on a Magic Dirt tour. It was during the Magic Dirt tour that Sonic decided he wanted to turn his fledging songs into an album of his own. "I really wanted to create this wall of sound," Sonic says. "Initially I was just going to put together a fairly low-key band that was based on friendships of mine." That 'low-key band' morphed into the High Times.
Matt Sonic and the High Times evolved into a 'real' band, becoming a fixture on the local music circuit. In early 2011 the band was invited to play on the Lilyworld stage at the Big Day Out. "That was unreal," Sonic says. "It was so hot - there was only about three really hot days last summer, and that was one of them. It must have been mid-40s on the day, and we were absolutely sweltering. I'd never been to the Lilyworld stage before, and it was a real blast - it had this psychedelic feel to it."
In the course of its evolution from ad hoc ensemble to Big Day Out participant, Sonic went through a turbulent emotional period, glimpses of which can be seen in the liner notes to his recent album. Sonic openly admits playing and writing music offered him a way through the emotional turmoil. "Yeah, it was really intense," he says. "There was a period when the High Times were playing the previous record, and I was really emotionally distraught after my long-term relationship had broken down. The only way I felt I could get through it was by writing songs," Sonic says. "A lot of the songs on the record are very particular to that situation. The first side of the album is called Heartache and the second is Redemption.
In a live setting, Sonic says playing songs that both explore his emotional response and act as a cathartic reaction tend to be the songs that generate the most energy and intensity. "I find that songs that have a direct emotional line are the ones that you enjoy playing for longer through your career," Sonic says. "You have a particular connection with the song, so it means more to you."
Having played Boogie Festival in March this year ("I came home feeling dirty and crooked," Sonic laughs), Matt Sonic and the High Times will head to Meredith in December for its debut performance at the fabled music festival. "I'm really determined to keep away from Meredith for the first couple of days so I can come out of the stalls fresh," Sonic laughs. "But the other members of the High Times are pretty excited about it, so maybe I'll have to be there with the Berocca to help out."
Matt Sonic & The High Times new LP This Love Electric will be released Friday September 9 through Shock. The band's confirmed support of Monster Magnet's tour toppled with the tour: Matt Sonic & The High Times now play The Epsy Gershwin Room (Wednesday September 7) with River Of Snakes in support of Russian Circles.