Music Writing

While an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin, I worked on a project called Musicians Off The Record under Dr. Madeline Maxwell; work included contacting artists to establish an interview which we then wrote, conducted and filmed as teams of two. The interviews were then transcribed and edited to be added to the project site. 

I wrote this profile on Matt Oliver who was the front man of now-defunct local Austin-favorite band Sound Team.

Matt Oliver

Blurb: “I still feel the same but everything has changed.”

      It would be expected for most local bands that signed with a major record label like Capitol to act different, sound different- to change. Not so with Sound Team, or at least their lead singer Matt Oliver. The first time he walked into a record store and saw their album for sale was not a monumental moment for this Houston native.

            “Seeing it for sale and being in magazines and on TV, I mean, that’s fine but that’s not really why I do it,” Oliver said. “You do it just because you enjoy doing it, you know, and hopefully other people do. And that’s it.” Oliver is very matter-of-fact about most band business, down to their reputation for being a do-it-yourself group and the strangeness he admits from people’s expectations for Sound Team to change.   

            They have no big fancy tour bus; they still drive themselves from Denver to Vancouver in a van with a broken tape player. Resorting to sing-alongs to entertain themselves (but never their own songs) the band seems more like just a group of friends on a spring break trip- just the joy of making music together “creates the fabric of the group” according to Oliver. Just don’t call their music indie.

            “It’s not what you would call ‘indie rock’ which is very envogue right now, 2006, but it’s really just great songs, classic American song forms- Carter Family, Gershwin, Randy Newman, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan- you know, the people that were interested in capturing a time and a place,” Oliver said. And Austin is the place they keep coming home to, which they plan to do for some time.

            Sound Team’s activism extends to supporting other local musicians, the ones strapped for cash. Oliver remembers the days when the first thing he would spend any money he got was on groceries or the rent check. The band used to scrape by on breakfasts from Sam’s Club. They may have been on a whirlwind of touring and change these past two years, but it’s this sense of their beginnings that serves to keep them grounded. They are not, as Oliver said, famous yet.

            “I’m not a celebrity,” Oliver said. But that doesn’t me he doesn’t believe in the power of change- social change- stemming from one individual, famous or no. “If you’re in a position to do something about making a change, you probably should.”