There is a saying “Still waters run deep”. I definitely wouldn’t describe Jonny Mattock, the former drummer with Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, the Breeders, the Perfect Disaster, and the Josephine Wiggs Experience, and the current drummer with Slipstream, Lupine Howl and Applecraft as being “still”. Simply by reading the names of all the bands he has been in you can see he that he has definitely had quite an influence on music history

Jonny, born Jonathan, has spent probably about a third of his life in his home town of Northampton and the rest of it on the road with his many different bands. It is natural that the most attention in a band falls onto a singer, but drummers have the habit of taking you even deeper inside of bands. Since Jonny has been inside so many well-known bands the story gets even more interesting still.

Sit back and enjoy it then as Pennyblackmusic talks to one of the most renowned and popular drummers of our time about how he entered the world of music and had the door opened for him with Spacemen 3 and how he has remained there ever since.

PB: At the moment you live in Northampton. Have you always lived there?

JM: Yeah, I was born in Northampton and went to school there. I was actually born pretty much near where I live now, although I have since travelled with all the bands that I have been in.

PB: You have been in so many bands but how did you first get into music?

JM: I have always liked music. My dad would always play music to me when I was a child. I was always surrounded by music. It went into my head and I liked the beat. I also liked to dance a lot and got into rhythm and movement.

The first instrument I played was a trombone and then saw a drum kit and thought that was the best. I was in a lot of bands as a teenager. Then I must have got to about 20 and I saw an advert in our local paper inviting applicants to join Spacemen 3.

PB: That’s a good start to a career!

JM: (Laughs) Hmmm. At the time I was doing a stupid job. It was driving and delivering film for Kodak. It was silly hours. I remember I was just looking at the paper, I wasn’t actually looking for a band at the time, so it was complete chance. There was a three line advert saying “Spacemen 3 need a drummer apply to…” so I put down my name and sent it off in the post.

I then got 2 separate phone calls. The first one was from Pete (Kember, the band's guitarist and singer, also known as Sonic Boom-OS) and then another one about half an hour later from Jason (Pierce, the band's guitarist and singer). It was funny because when Pete came on the phone he sounded like as if he was on a spaceship. He had Red Creolla record on in the background which sort of made it sound like as if he was in a club.

He asked me questions like if I knew Mo Tucker who was in the Velvet Underground, Keith Moon and I was like “Yep, I like all of those.” And then he just asked me to come to the audition.

And then, about half an hour later, I got another call from Jason and he asked me the same questions!

PB: You mean the exact questions?

JM: Yeah, (Laughs) but he sounded like as if he was in a quiet room. Whereas Pete was the spokesman for Spacemen 3, Jason was more timid and shy. He was really quiet. I could hardly hear him but he asked me exactly the same questions. I got off the phone thinking “Blimey! They sound weird.”

PB: It sounds like they had the questions written on a bit of paper.

JM: Yeah, they must have. I always found whenever we were in a studio they never quite knew what to do with the drums. All the drummers that they knew were the bands that they liked, but the drums themselves, they didn’t quite know what to do with . I was always asking “Shall we put the drums on it?” and they were like “Oh, oh yeah.” (Laughs)

PB: What was it like to work with them and practice?

The first practice I went to was very loud. I didn’t know much about them at the time and I asked my friends in Northampton and said that Spaceman 3 wanted me to play drums for them and they were like “Wow!”

I went over and I went totally deaf. It was absolutely beautiful music. It was only 3 chords. Pete used to say “3 chords good, 2 chords better, 1 chord best”. That was their motto. (Laughs) . I got those industrial ear plugs and I had to wear those because it was so loud, but it was great. We had a few practices. We only had about 8 songs for a set, but you may remember that Spacemen songs lasted about half an hour each. You just started a beat and then ages later stopped the beat.

PB: How did it work in the band when you were working on new songs?

JM: I came in at the end of the band really. They had released ‘Sound Of Confusion’ and ‘Perfect Prescription’, their first two albums I came on just before ‘Playing With Fire’, their third album, which had a drum machine on it. I think I had only about 3 beats on the whole thing (Laughs). And then we went on tour.

We did about 10 weeks of Europe which was absolutely amazing. There is an album out called ‘Live in Europe 1989’. I’m on that. I was copying all the beats that Natty Brooker, the original drummer, used to play. It was very tribal, nothing clean and very 60’s with wushy cymbal sounds.

The first gig that I did with them was at the Hammersmith Riverside. We were supporting The Bubblemen who used to be Love and Rockets. I remember we were backstage just before going on and everyone had a spliff on the go and they forgot to tune up! So they went.

“Hey Jonny, can you hold the spliffs for us?” So there I was, at the side of the stage, getting really high (Laughs). By the time we got on stage I was really stoned and there was a lot of dry ice . Half way through ‘Rollercoaster’ I totally lost where I was because of the dry ice. I was like “Oh my god! Where am I? Who am I…?” (Laughs)

I just carried on, the dry ice went, and I saw my drum kit again and was like “Oh okay, I’m on the stage.”

From then on that was the way the band was. It was just one big haze of dope. And then we went to Europe and had some great times. Jason and Pete were starting to fall out with each other at the time. They were very uptight….This was my first time touring in Europe-I was having a great time!

We played some amazing halls and little clubs and I was amazed at the hospitality of the promoters and punters-such a nice change from England!. And then going on stage and playing this amazing music. For me it’s really back to nature. None of the rhythms I was playing were popular beats. They were hypnotic beats..

We just continued touring and then recorded ‘Recurring', Spacemen 3's last album. By that time Jason and Pete weren’t talking at all. In effect that album was the first Spiritualized album. Everybody thought the band were still together but we had split up really. Jason would call the rest of the band separately to work on his songs and Pete would do the same to work on his songs.

PB: Was it quite hard for you, Willie Carruthers (bassist) and Mark Refoy (guitarist) to work with them at the time?

JM:Yes-but we all loved playing the music and hoped it would go on but we knew things weren’t right.

We then had a meeting with all the Spacemen around Jason’s flat. but nobody was speaking. It was a meeting about the band and nobody was talking so it was like “ok bye” it just naturally ended and it felt natural to start again with Spiritualized.

PB: You have played with so many bands. Have you ever turned anyone down?

JM: Only if the band sucks! (Laughs) But I have been lucky because all the bands I have played with the music has sounded amazing. Spaceman 3, Spiritualized and have you heard of a band called Perfect Disaster? The best album they did was ‘Up’. It had Jo Wiggs playing bass.

PB: I know! How did you actually meet Jo because you worked with her a lot. Was it through Spacemen 3?

JM: Yeah, Spaceman 3 did a gig in Brighton and Jo lived in Brighton at the time. The band were doing a gig and the Perfect Disaster were supporting us. I think the first time I met her I think I scared her (Laughs) because I had really short hair like a skin head and I looked really scary. She was in the Perfect Disaster, but was interested though in writing some of her own songs. She wanted me to play drums for her. I think I met her and then the Perfect Disaster drummer left and I stepped in and did a few gigs with them, while playing in Spiritualized and recorded another album as well called ‘Heaven Scent’.

I developed a great musical relationship with Jo at the time and we had a band called Honey Tongue.

PB: You did an album called ‘Nude, Nude’ with them, didn't you?

JM: Yeah, we did that. Spiritualized was up and running. Me, Willie and Mark had joined, all from Spaceman 3. and Jason started writing songs. We were covering ‘Anyway that You Want Me’,by the Troggs. We recorded that with Spaceman at the time of ‘Playing With Fire’ and came back to it to release it as the first single with Spiritualized in June 1990. I was playing with Spiritualized and Perfect Disaster at the same time. I think Jason was a bit worried that I was going to run off with Perfect Disaster. (Laughs)

PB: So how did the collaboration between you and Jo start?

JM: While we were recording with Perfect Disaster she was always saying that we should work on some songs of our own which we did with Honey Tongue. So at the end of 1990 we went up to Manchester and recorded the songs for ‘Nude, Nude’ which eventually came out in 1991. I have kept that relationship going ever since.

While she was in Perfect Disaster she had met Kim Deal (Pixies bassist and vocalist) and Kim got on well with Jo. They used to talk about forming a band together and one day they formed the Breeders with Tanya Donelly as a guitarist and drummer Jim MacPherson.

PB: I know you were involved briefly at one point as well.

JM: I met Kim and recorded one song with them which was a track called ‘Safari’. I went down to Brighton, met Kim and had some ice cream (laughs). We talked about the song and over the course of the next few days went to London and recorded the song over night from 7pm and 7am. I could have probably played with the Breeders but I was very busy with Spiritualized. By that time we were working on ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’, our first album, and I was too busy. I didn’t want to leave and if I had joined the Breeders I couldn’t do it part time.

PB: You have said in the past you really liked ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’. Was that your favourite one and how did all the songs for that come about?

JM: It’s a beautiful album. We actually came up with those songs while we were recording ‘Recurring’ with Spacemen. We were jamming and all of those songs ended up on ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’. We would practice in Jason’s spare room in Rugby. I had t-shirts in my drums because the neighbours were complaining and we had to keep the noise down. A lot of those songs were group compositions. Jason would come up with 3 chords and the rest of us would embellish those chords and eventually turn them into songs.

PB: Was that the usual way you would normally come up with songs in the band?

JM: Yeah, it was just everybody’s input. I was on drums, Willie on bass, Kate Radley on guitar-she didn’t play keyboards at the beginning-and Mark on guitar. Jason is very technical and he would be good in a studio and get a really good picture of what we were after.

PB: The band were pretty much the same line-up as Spacemen 3. Did it feel like a new beginning?

JM: Definitely because Pete was angry much of the time and that was disruptive to the music.

PB: How did you actually came up with the name Spiritualized?

JM: Do you know the drink Pernod?-or a similar French drink, It says spiritueux on the labels on the side of its bottles and we had a few drinking sessions Also Jason was going on about the music being connected to our spiritual side, but it was mostly about the bottle of Pernod (Laughs)

Mark came up with the name for ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’. It was at the time of the Gulf War and lazer guided bombs so we were like “Fuck that! Lazer Guided Melodies.” It is a great album. It’s very mellow with beautiful tunes. We would take them on the road and I would still be using t-shirts in my drums and the sound engineer would be like “Why do you use t-shirts?” but I really liked the sound and people loved it. We had a lot of people sitting down at our gigs-which harked back to Spacemen gigs.

I remember one of our gigs in Glasgow at King’s Tuts. The music was so quiet , you could hear the fruit machine! (Laughs)

We would still play some Spacemen songs like ‘Walking With Jesus’ and ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’.

We were having really good fun…. We toured in Europe and in 1992 we supported the Jesus and Mary Chain.

PB: Was that the 'Rollercoaster' tour?

JM: Yeah, it was also with Curve. We did the whole East to West coast and that was our first tour of America. Just before we went to the US Willie left and we got Sean Cook (bass) who was playing in a local band called Electra Head.

PB: Is that how Sean got to know Jim Reid (the Jesus and Mary Chain's singer)? Because I have heard that at one point they were thinking of starting a band together.

JM: I don’t know what happened. We had just started Lupine Howl, so that’s probably why it never happened.

PB: Also is correctly that Sean and Jason went to school together in Rugby?

JM: I think so. They definitely knew each other in Rugby. Sean’s band supported Spiritualized and we got to know Sean and then Willie lost the plot with Jason and left and we got Sean in and went off to play Glastonbury.

PB: That must have been a great experience. That was the first time. right?

JM: Yeah, we played the NME stage. It was really an ambition realized…as everyone in a band wants to play Glastonbury,right?

Then at the end of 1994 Mark left because he wanted to write his own songs and he started Slipstream. We also recorded ‘Pure Phase’, our second album in Bath in 1993. We finished it at Christmas that year. Three or four months later I left because I just wasn’t getting on with Jason.

He started doing more smack at the time. I would go to Rugby for practice and he would say we were going to be practicing and then next day I would turn up and he would say “What are you doing here?” and I would “Well, you said we would practise” and he would say “I don’t remember.” I couldn’t work with him any more because it became hard to communicate. I think he hit a bit of a block and we didn’t really have a band then.

Mark had been very much Jason’s right hand man up to that point. All of ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ relied heavily on Mark’s knowledge of music. Jason was going “I need something here but I don’t quite know what chord it is.” and Mark would always know. When Mark left it left a hole. Jason needs people to be very technical around him because he is a ‘typical artist’.

The band after I left was Sean and Jason because Kate was just getting together with Richard Ashcroft (Verve). Jason was doing more drugs and needed a new band. He got John Coxon (guitar) in and he took Mark’s place and he was similarly technical and then they settled on Damon Reece on drums.

PB: How did they get Mike Mooney (guitar) involved ? He joined Spiritualized shortly afterwards

JM: Damon knew Mike because they both lived in Liverpool at the time.

PB: And all that was around 1995.

JM: Yeah, they went to US and did some dates supporting Neil Young. By this time I was doing little bits and peaces with Slipstream but then I went back to Northampton because I needed to take a break after Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized.

I was still working with Jo Wiggs and we did an album called ‘The Josephine Wiggs Experience’ in 1995 We also toured US with a band called Luscious Jackson and we went all over the States. I was working with Jo and we recorded this album called ‘Bon Bon Life’.

It was quite interesting the way we would record it. She would come over to UK from US and we would record some drum patterns. I had no idea how the tune sounded but she would have it in her head and she would take it back to America and cut it up in pieces and build the tune around that . So the album was recorded in separate countries.

PB: Was it hard to find a label that would be interested in putting the album out?

JM: Not really. Jo was in the Breeders and I think Mike D (the Beastie Boys drummer and head of Grand Royal records ) checked out the Breeders and she gave him a demo. They signed us for one album just to see how it went. Publicity wasn’t amazing on that album so they didn’t ask us to do another one (Laughs) but we got to go to Los Angeles and the label came to check us out.

We also got some free T-shirts and get to hang out in LA so it was quite rock n’ roll. I’m still working with Jo. I have just sent her some transatlantic drums actually. I want to go to NY and visit her . She is playing some jazzy sound tracks and we need to do another album together.

Jo is still doing stuff. Obviously the Breeders split up because the Pixies have now reformed. Jo is now saying “I wonder if the Breeders are going to reform…”

PB: You mentioned you are now doing more stuff with Slipstream. Could you tell me more about that?

MJ: Mark and I did an album about 2 years ago called ‘Transcendental’ and are now working on some new stuff. It’s going really well. I’m playing keyboards, doing a bit of singing and playing drums obviously. We are currently looking for a record deal so we can finance the project.

PB: And the band’s line-up is you and Mark. Have you got anyone else involved?

JM: It’s just me and Mark at the moment but we have friends that we can pull in and we play with like Ray, the old Spiritualized saxophonist.

PB: The other band you are in with Sean and Mike is Lupine Howl. What is happening there? I have heard that the 3rd album is near to completion.

JM: We have done demos for it. We just need someone to give us the money so we can record it and put it out. I think Sean is talking to someone.

PB: Is it a UK label?

J: Yeah it’s someone in UK. Hopefully we will soon know more. Lupine Howl is definitely still happening.

PB: What does the new album sound like? I mean compared to the previous ones?

JM: It’s more like the first album, 'The Carniverous Lunar Activities of Lupine Howl.' It has some really rough sounds. I think the second album. 'The Bar at the End of the World', was more polished. We are going to try keeping it more rough and edgy. It’s sort of punky.

PB: I know Sean is also doing the Death Country Singer gigs. Is that just his own thing?

JM: Lupine Howls’s other guitarist,Ian Mclaran is also playing with Sean on that project. Sean has also been playing with Applecraft more and does some session work in Bristol with a band called The Insects.

PB: Have you got anything else going aside of bands?

JM:Yeah, I teach young kids drums and how to rock out. (Laughs) It would be great to concentrate on the music all the time, but you have to do different things to be able to live.

PB: And Mike has just become a dad.

JM: Yeah, he has just had a little baby girl – Betty Blossom. He is over the moon. I spoke to Janice (Mike’s girlfriend) and Mike and they were saying she was absolutely beautiful.

PB: At last you are in Applecraft which is lead by Richard Beale (the band's singer and also ex Pregnant). What is happening there?

JM: It’s just the same case like with Slipstream and Lupine Howl. We are looking for people that would be interested in releasing the music.

PB: Thanks a lot for talking.

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