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Interview with Matt Clyburn

So Called Star’s front man Matt Clyburn has just put out his debut solo album! The album saw Matt do most of the writing, performing, and mastering himself, while he worked out the track list in a cabin in the mountains. Tomatrax caught up with Matt to talk about his latest music.

It has been a few years since you were last featured on Tomatrax, what has changed since then?

Well I have stayed pretty active in music. So Called Star has been on an extended hiatus, but I have continued to write and record over the last few years. I released three albums with my band Garland that consists completely of members of my family. Early this year, I decided to focus primarily on my solo music.

You’ve just put out your latest album, what made you decide to release a solo album?

Well for one, I enjoy the freedom of doing all of the writing and performing on my own. Nothing against bands–I enjoy writing with other musicians just as much, but I have always wanted to make a solo album that incorporates all of the different musical styles that have inspired me the most. Well, within some limits… It wouldn’t make sense to have a jazz song next to a hard rock song. The album spans three or four different genres and still maintains stylistic continuity, I think.

How does performing solo compare with being in a band?

Performing solo is definitely more vulnerable. There is no room for error. Every “brown note” is noticed (laughs), but it’s very gratifying. There’s that sense of a personal connection with the audience when it’s just me and a guitar.

You did most of the writing, performing, and mastering yourself, was this hard to do?

The actual sound engineering/mastering part wasn’t all that hard, but I’m still learning with every song I record. However, I couldn’t have made the album without my lovely wife, who happens to be a great producer, Mandy Clyburn. It’s a major bonus to have married a musician with a gift for knowing what sounds right and what doesn’t. She also plays bass and backing vocals on several songs from the album.

What made you pick ‘Advanced State’ as the album’s title track?

As I mentioned earlier about incorporating the musical styles that have inspired me the most, I wanted to come up with a name or phrase that somehow exemplified that. I felt that my songwriting had reached a more advanced state by establishing that goal… Plus, I thought the name sounded pretty cool… That’s always the most important thing (laughs.)

You worked out the order of the tracks while staying in a cabin in the mountains, what inspired this location?

My wife and I had just gone through a stressful couple of weeks, so we needed a mountain getaway. We also saw it as a good opportunity to work out the track order in a quiet, relaxed environment. The location was pretty remote so cell service was nonexistent. In fact, I had drive 20 miles to a bar to download the album over their Wi-Fi so we could listen to it.

What was the inspiration behind the album’s front cover?

My wife is a graphic artist, so I hired her for the job. I knew I wanted something colorful but also somehow slightly unsettling to characterize the mood of the album. She created the cover by snapping a photo of a vehicle air conditioning vent, and then re-shaped it into this strange and beautiful work of art.

You recently posted a Guided by Voices cover version, what was the inspiration behind doing this cover?

Well I went through a phase where I was completely obsessed with GBV. It was one of those where-have-you-been-all-my life moments. I always knew of the band and Robert Pollard as one of the fathers of indie rock, but I never gave them much of a listen. I picked up their album, Bee Thousand and I was completely hooked. During my obsession, I recorded the video or “closet session” cover of one of my favorite songs from the album. I plan to do more closet sessions in the future, so stay tuned, as they say…

When writing what comes first, the word or the music?

It depends on the song actually. There are some songs that are based around a lyric idea. Others I have written the entire song with music and a vocal melody only, and the lyrics are filled in last. For example, the song, “Stay Awake” was written completely around the opening guitar riff. Waking up one morning, I was in that state of mind where you aren’t quite asleep or awake. The guitar riff was playing over and over in my head, so I grabbed my phone voice recorder and put it on demo.

Now that your solo album is out what do you plan on doing next?

I plan to keep my solo music my primary focus, but also working with Garland and possibly another project with former members of So Called Star. While my solo album is making the rounds and hopefully gaining exposure, I will keep writing for the next one. Garland is also planning a new album for next year. And finally, some live shows are in the works. In other words, I’ll be staying pretty busy.

Check out Matt Clyburn’s website to find out more!


CD Review: Michael Cullen and the Soul Searchers – Live @ Lazybones

Former Hardheads and Watershed frontman Michael Cullen as assembled his new Soul Searching backing band to perform this emotionally charged cinematic experience. Performed in the art deco splendour of the Lazybones Lounge in Marrickville, an inner Western suburb of Sydney, the EP features 5 lives tracks, all taken from Michael Cullen’s second solo album True Believer.

The live performances do the songs great justice, with Mr Cullen’s emotionally charged charimia being the driving force that unleashes a new sense of life and an electrifying kind of soundscape.

The set opens with the brooding (Tomatrax Top 100 winning) ‘Black dog.’ The slow and dark sounds paint the perfectly bleak soundscape that sets the scene for the gig. Mr Cullen’s movement from “spoken word” to barotone vocals gives the song a massive emotional charge.

‘Nothing special’ brings about the sad tale of loss, delivered in a sharp tongued and facetious manner showing off Michael’s great dark sense of humour.

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‘Black coffee and cigarettes’ sees country and western meet post punk. The complementing melonchollic and bleak elements interact and amplify the feelings of loss and despair.

”Believer’ brings in the signs of reflection and hope for better things. The live version brings in an extra layer of atmosphere that provides a hypnotic yet energetic trance.

The EP closes with the slow and trippy ‘I walk alone’. The slow burning and roaring guitar provides the perfect shoegaze esq hazy atmosphere that carries you too in a fug of smoke before then disappearing.

This is a great live EP that sees all tracks take on an extra layer of atmosphere and an extra shot of energy. Mr Cullen has used his subtle charisma to create an electrifying yet hypnotic show! Here’s hoping there is more touring to come!

Check out Michael Cullen’s website to find out more!



Legendary Australian heavy outfit Behind Crimson Eyes are teasing new music and a new era in their career which has already spanned over a decade.

The 5-piece Melbourne, Victoria crew, who began in 2004, have had a seriously illustrious existence — BCE, as they are more affectionately known, have released 2 EPs via Boomtown Records and 2 full-length records via Roadrunner Records, sold out multiple national headline tours, performed at triple j’s One Night Stand, toured with Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet for My Valentine, Disturbed and Iron Maiden, and graced the stage of every major Australian music festival including Taste Of Chaos, Pyramid Rock Festival, Bass in the Dust, Bass in the Grass, Homebake Festival, Soundwave and Big Day Out.

However, after several years on hiatus, BCE finally returned to active status early this year — firstly by touring nationally with Alexisonfire, and secondly by teasing new music entitled “Stardust” via a new website – which is counting down to November 3rd. The latter promises to be the most profound and exciting project BCE has ever embarked on, the culmination of which will be on display in January 2018 at the Unify Gathering 2018.

Behind Crimson Eyes are one of Australia’s biggest and best heavy acts, and what comes next will surely solidify this position even further.

2017 LINE-UP
Josh Stuart – Vocals
Aaron Schultz – Guitar
Garth Buchanan – Bass
Dan Kerby – Drums
Liam Hennessy – Guitar


For more information, go to and


THE STEMS Reissue ‘At First Sight Violets Are Blue’ Out 3rd November


To coincide with The Stem’s 30th anniversary tour celebrating the release of their 1987 debut album “At First Sight Violets are Blue”, Sydney based Citadel Records are set to reissue the long deleted title as a limited digipak ‘anniversary edition’ CD on November 3rd.

The album has been digitally re-mastered and includes 3 bonus tracks. A vinyl reissue will see light of day early next year.

Originally released through Mushroom Records’ White Label, the album was first pressed in mid-1987. The title track ‘At First Sight’ and subsequent singles ‘For Always’ and ‘Sad Girl’ gained mainstream airplay. They are one of only a handful of Australian bands to crack the mainstream charts with an indie approach in the late 80’s, influencing a host of new local bands to emulate their brand of garage rock and roll.

‘At First Sight’ became the band’s signature track and the album is still rated as one of the best Australian guitar pop releases. In 1993 Rolling Stone Magazine included it in the top 100 Australian releases to date. The album attained gold record status in 2007.

30th Anniversary Of ‘At First Sight Violets are Blue’

Thursday 9th November 2017
Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS

Friday 10th November 2017
Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne VIC
special guests: Rocket Science and Wesley Fuller

Saturday 11th November 2017
The Gov, Adelaide SA
special guests: The Garden Path and The Trafalgars

Friday 17th November 2017
Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
special guests: Rocket Science and Grinding Eyes

Saturday 18th November 2017
The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
special guests: Rocket Science


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