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Agnostic Front’s Matt Henderson Talks To HEAVY

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The name Matt Henderson is more than just a name in the world of hardcore music. Having been involved with 2 of New York City’s most well known and legendary bands, Agnostic Front and Madball, after a 5 year hiatus, he recently teamed up with vocalist Scott Vogel and drummer Nick Jett both from Terror, bassist Chris Beattie from Hatebreed and guitarist Sam Trapkin of Trapped Under Ice to create what could be seen as somewhat of a hardcore supergroup. S.O.S. is a project that started as an idea and ended up as an 11 minute EP titled ‘I Owe You Nothing’ that comprises intense musicianship and chaotic ideas.

‘I Owe You Nothing’ is only 11 minutes long but if I’m correct, from writing the record to recording it was quite a lengthy process, is that right?

Yeah from the conception of actually making the record to getting the personnel together who we were happy to work with, that took a long time. Once we settled on that and actually physically got together… we only spent a few weekends on the record from start to finish from the writing and the recording.

And with the people in the band being so busy with their other bands, it would have made it hard to actually get together to rehearse because of conflicting schedules?

Yeah, there was a bunch of issues like that and that’s why it took so long to get started but luckily once we did get started it didn’t take as long to complete what we thought was a good thing.

The album really does have an old-school hardcore sound too that’s reminiscent of bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Manliftingbanner which for me, personally, is the style I prefer.

I wasn’t sure how well it was gonna work. It wasn’t like we said to ourselves “Okay, it’s gotta sound old-school” but what we did say was that we wanted it to be very straight forward and stripped down. I know I can personally say a model for myself was the album ‘Victim In Pain’ (Agnostic Front) which to this day I think is an amazing hardcore record from start to finish. It’s got that raw blasting attitude, it’s chaotic and the songs are classic! The songs are great sing-a-long songs. I’m not saying we created ‘Victim In Pain’ but that was a model for me that I held in the back of my mind.

And the shortness of the songs… I love that about the album. It’s just so in your face and leaves you wanting more. I love that about hardcore music that there’s no excess bullshit. It’s just BAM! In and out and a minute and it’s done.

Sure. To make your point, you know, you’re screaming it out and that’s it. You be direct about it and you don’t beat around the bush. The songs are a minute long because that’s all we had to say. There’s no point repeating ourselves or trying to make a point in a different way… it’s direct and right at you and it only takes a minute to do it and we’re able to do it 7 times.

And with it being so short and you guys all having such busy schedules, I have to ask, will we be hearing more from S.O.S. in the future or was this just a once off project?

Well because we’re all friends and we keep in touch with each other all the time and we were all really happy with how this turned out, no one is saying “that’s it, we won’t ever do anything else” but it’s not part of the primary plan. The plan was to have fun with this and do it and the assumption was we don’t go back to our regular activities with those guys being in their bands and me with my family life right now so… we’ll see though. I can’t say when or say never but there are no immediate plans right now.

Being that you are a guitarist well known for your style and sound in hardcore music, I’m interested to know what equipment you use to get that particular sound you hear on the records you play on as it is pretty distinct.

First of all, I’ve never had enough money to buy top of the line shit. I found it’s always been a struggle for me to get a sound that I really wanted. As a guitar player I grew up hearing classic rock and then transitioned into Eddie Van Halen who was my biggest idol. Obviously his sound would never fit into the type of music I play today so I wouldn’t try to get that type of sound. The next guitar driven band that I can think of that really influenced a heavy sounding guitar for me was Metallica; the old school with attitude Metallica. That may actually be the biggest influence on me to get what I hear is a big fat sound but I never went down the path of trying to scoop out the licks the way the later metal guys do it and try to get super crunchy cos I still play all 6 strings when I strum my chords, you know I mean? I’m playing the full bar chords. I never really play the simple power chords with the first and third finger type thing. Ultimately I think it’s the way I play and my attitude and the way I try to play the riff more than the sound. For the guitar on the record I used this brand called Agile which do these Gibson knock-offs. They do ‘em for cheap and they do ‘em well. I’m really happy with this guitar I’ve picked up. I’d recommend them to everybody and anybody if you like Gibson style guitars at all. I just plugged right into a Dual Rectifier, an older beat up one, with a Marshall cabinet. Pretty straight forward stuff, just turn it up loud!

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