Q&A: Matt Monta

From the 09/15/2011 edition

Local musicians share the stories behind their best songs and give intimate performances during “Between the Notes,” a live talk show hosted by Matt Monta at Wild Goose Creative. The next installment runs 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10.

Monta talked about his show, his work and his passion for music.

Music has kind of been in my family. My dad plays Christmas carols on the guitar. He had a stack of vinyl records that we’d listen to. I don’t want to say I was forced — but I was strongly encouraged against my will — to take piano lessons.

I picked up the guitar when I was around 12 years old. I didn’t know that I was playing on a broken guitar, but I was. The neck was broken, so the strings were like an inch off of the fret board. I also play harmonica now — and anything else I can get my hands on and fiddle around with.

I’ve been kind of doing my own thing here in town since about 2007. I used to play on Campus in college. I’d do a lot of covers, and I’d always sneak my own stuff in there. Generally, people wouldn’t notice, so I thought I was doing OK. My new project is The Smoking Guns, which is an American rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly type of outfit.

There was a point very early on when I was frustrated. I was playing out for a few weeks, and I wasn’t really getting a lot of response. I was walking out of the Thirsty Ear at the time, and Billy Zenn said, “You’ve got some good stuff. You should come back.” He’s a phenomenal musician, so I went back.

I’m the kind of person who never gives up.

“Between the Notes” is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Being involved in the music scene, I am always eager to learn and grateful to learn from the people with which I’m surrounded. I’ve learned a lot about the city — and I’ve learned a lot about music — just being around other people.

With this show, it’s sort of the whole package. My goal is to present a complete portrait of a musician and how they fit into Columbus. It’s an intense personal discussion, which is amplified by the music that they play.

Three things I can’t live without are good, dark coffee, being able to escape into nature and laughter.

Photo by Eric Wagner