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Meet Matt Strachota, Y’alt-Country Rocker, Anti-Statist

[Interview]

Matthew Strachota: “I’m An Anarchist!”

Printed below is a Q&A taken from an IM exchange conducted recently via Facebook with Matt Strachota, formerly of Bartender’s Bible, a now split-up Americana y’alt-punk band in San Diego. His new band is Trailduster, also in the olde-timey Americana genre. They played in early July at The Black Cat bar in City Heights.

If you need a hint, Strachota is a strong advocate of a type of political thinking that has grown in popularity since Obama took office.

Reviewer Rob
Tell me a bit about yourself, Matthew. you’re working as a bartender now as well as doing music??? Where are you from originally?

Matthew Strachota
OK, I’ll start now but be prepared for me to stop abruptly in a bit and continue later…
My name is Matthew Strachota, I bartend and play music. I grew up in the outskirts of Milwaukee, WI in a little town called West Bend. I was always encouraged to listen to and play music, and my interests have been diverse. My parents had great taste in music, my mom had a great 60’s and 70’s rock record collection, and all of the Motown and great R&B and Soul stuff had my dad’s name on it. But skateboarding really turned me on to a new world of music, finding out about punk and skate rock from Igor’s Collection in Thrasher magazine, which wasn’t very easy to come by in my town. Started my first band in junior high, we played Agent Orange songs, Sex Pistols songs, the Barney Miller Theme song, etc. Country and blues and jazz, it was always around peripherally, but I had to be a bit older before I really understood how important it all was, and how those guys were rebelling the same way as Bl’ast. Anyway, moved to San Diego in I think 1997 (whatever year the Packers lost the Super Bowl here I moved the previous October. But I don’t want to talk about that). First band here was the Black Bottom Boozers with ‘Action’ Andy Rasmussen and Dan Wise, a kind of old-timey dixieland/jump/honky-tonk band, and although I still play in punk bands (the Long and Short of It is about to put out a new record) I can’t imagine not playing some form of country music. Somewhere along the line it just became totally embedded in my psyche.

Reviewer Rob
Why Americana over other genres?

Matthew Strachota
I guess it’s just easier. Meaning I feel it more, it comes more naturally, as a musician. I’d probably enjoy being a great metal singer or a great punk singer if I could do it well, but I feel good about what I do within the confines of ‘Americana’. I’m comfortable writing songs, arranging songs, singing songs, playing songs that way. And I love going to honky-tonk shows, there’s a certain vibe to it that I really enjoy. But that’s not necessarily genre specific, either. I enjoy going to watch Archons, or Burning of Rome, or BDP&T, or a million other great bands that don’t remotely fall into the Americana genre, and it’s the same thing. So, I guess, it just somehow makes more sense for me execution wise to play this style of music, but I really think that putting a genre label onto things is kind of missing the point, in that I really still believe that most people who are making honest music from the heart, from their own experiences, are really trying to accomplish the same thing. I mean, obviously it behooves us to classify what we’re doing in some way. We want our potential fans and musical cohorts to have some way of identifying like minded people. At the same time I feel like too many people aren’t hearing some great stuff because they think they don’t like “metal” or “country.” Little story, I was bartending “hip-hop happy hour” at the bar I work at, and a customer was having a great time exclaimed “I thought I didn’t like rap music, but this stuff is great!” and I just said, “no, you didn’t like shitty rap music.” There is a lot of terrible music being made in every genre, but if you weed through it there is an incredible amount of amazing music being made in every genre. I feel like I’ve gotten a bit off topic here.

Reviewer Rob
No, that’s good. You bartend at Live Wire, right?

Matthew Strachota
Yes, bartending at Live Wire.

Reviewer Rob
You probably notice a lot of things that other people don’t from behind the bar, such as the in depth political leanings of the city at night. Well, ok, maybe not that. But would you say you’re liberal or conservative?

Reviewer Rob
???

Matthew Strachota
I don’t identify with either liberal or conservative philosophy. I am anti-statist. But there is no way you have enough space for me to talk about music and politics…

Reviewer Rob
Au contraire. This is the internet, we have limitless space. I can edit down to the juicy parts if it goes in print.
And I can post anything in full on the website…
So – OBAMACARE. Will it be a good thing or a bad thing if it’s implemented in October like they’re saying.
and why.

Matthew Strachota
I’ll let you know all about it when I write a song about Obamacare.

Reviewer Rob
Haha. I guess as an anti stating Obamacare is the devil incarnate. But I was hoping for the back channel elements of it.

Matthew Strachota
I will say this much. There is a misguided view about anarchists, voluntaryists, and libertarians. People talk about health care, feeding and clothing the poor, building infrastructure, educating the youth, etc. and in an effort to discredit the ideas that people like myself hold without actually engaging them state that we are against these things. This would be silly if not for the fact that it is so widely accepted. We believe very strongly that the sick should be healed, the poor uplifted, infrastructure built and the youth educated. We simply reject the idea that the state; an inefficient, corrupt, coercive, inherently power hungry institution is the best way to accomplish those things. Frankly, like most of our representatives who voted for it, I have not read the “Obamacare” law in its entirety. What I do know is that it does nothing to address the artificially inflated cost of health care. And we have seen in the past, with mandatory car insurance, that making it illegal be uninsured drives up prices even further (I will be happy to source this before you go to press if you wish, I don’t have it off the top of my head). I would rather see a reform of US patent law to bring down the prices of medical equipment, for starters. A perfect example of how the state artificially inflates prices. Basically, if medical care were not so expensive, medical insurance for emergencies could be affordable for citizens while they paid out of pocket for more routine visits.


Below, Matt Strachota photographed at The Black Cat bar in City Heights by Rob Rowsey for Reviewer Magazine
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Matt Strachota, anti-statist, anarchist, y'alt-country rocker.

Matt Strachota, anti-statist, anarchist, y’alt-country rocker.

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