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Interview: Three Trapped Tigers’ Matt Calvert Goes Solo

Three Trapped Tigers are a hard act to follow, and when you’ve spent four years mixing electronic soundscapes of epic proportions, touring countries and being mentioned on every music blog worth their salt, your next course of action isn’t always obvious. But TTT writer and producer Matt Calvert seems to have been thinking of his for quite some time.

PlanetNotion: With the Tigers’ success, current tour and new album to be released imminently, what prompted you to launch your solo career now?

Matt Calvert: The thing about the Bygones EP is that is was written and pretty much entirely recorded before TTT’s first EP, in 2007 in my parent’s spare room, so the title is even more fitting now. Whilst TTT was kicking off I lost a bit of confidence in the material but ultimately didn’t want to sweep it under the carpet. So last year I tried mixing it again and felt it’d improved beyond a bedroom recording. Some things I write don’t really conform to TTT’s sound so I’m saving up ideas for my own outlet.

PN: So do you find it hard to juggle the two?

MC: Well, ultimately, I don’t manage.  Making a band like TTT work means a lot of concentrated effort, plus I also play in other bands. But at some point soon I’d like to put aside some time for my own music, play live, and put out some more stuff.

PN: How does your debut EP Bygones differ from TTT’s music?

MC: Of course there are similarities as I write about half of TTT’s material, a lot of the drum parts and most of the synth arrangements, but the main difference I think is that Evil Ex is more groove oriented and on this EP, the instrumentation is more straight up guitar rock, with synths and samples. It’s also darker, more brooding, and willing to remain at a low volume for longer! It ranges from glitchy intimate tracks to all out hardcore, and it’s quite inward and reflective at times. I’m working on a new set of material that will either make up a long EP or album, and I think that’ll be even more groove/beat/electro oriented, but it’ll still be dark and weird.

PN:  It must be hard enough to reproduce your precise IDM on stage with three people let alone one – how do you plan to do it?

MC: I don’t!  Not on my own.  It’d need a few people to pull it off – I’d ideally never use a backing track out of principle, like in TTT.  I know some killer musicians though so it wouldn’t be too hard. I have a twin brother who can play pretty much any instrument and is really adept at electronics and producing. So, he’s a natural choice.

PN: Was fellow TTT member Adam Betts [who guest drums on Bygones] a natural choice too?

MC: Betts is perhaps my most valuable collaborator.  He’s technical but delivers with real punk attitude, never sounding like a soul-less session shredder.  In TTT I can program absurd and ambitious drum parts which no-one else I know can pull off with the same sound or feel – but on Bygones he wasn’t working to such a script, and it’s some of his best playing on record – fluid but powerful.

PN: Why the moniker, Evil Ex?

MC: Blood and Biscuits simply didn’t want me to use Matt Calvert. I think it suits some of the darker elements of the music though. I hate coming up with names, and at some point I was just watching Scott Pilgrim and thought ‘that’ll do’. May I take this opportunity to state that I have no bona fide resentment towards any ex-girlfriends of mine. Of course, the day the record became available I thought of some better names.

PN: Ha, always the way! How you doing anyhow – tour going well?

MC: Good thanks! We’re three days in and have already sailed the seas!  (from Essex to Holland)  Just driving from Amsterdam to Brussels.  Every one’s in high spirits.  I always look forward to touring, everyone in the crew has a great wit and sense of humour, the most valuable possession to combat cabin fever.

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