“The live set is like stepping into a time machine portal into the 1950’s when R&B, Rock and Roll and Soul were being created.”-Mario Mathon
As a lifelong lover of music, I didn’t hesitate at the chance to watch my good friend and fellow artist Mathon record a session at Utopia Studios in downtown St. Louis with his bandmates Jordan Mays and Amonte Henry. Together, they form 1917 Soundtrack, a group that defies distinction by a single genre and instead lives on the edges of multiple sounds. R&B, soul, blues, and a little rock mixed in there. Give it a name but know this. Hearing it makes your body come alive when Henry is pounding the drums, Mays working the guitar and Mathon strutting around the room with a microphone in his hand singing the blues. Radio and news footage accompany the opening of their tracks and as they play, it’s nearly as if the band is driving a vehicle into a storm cloud of musicianship and taking you along for the ride. It’s quite the experience. Confidence flows through anyone’s veins while they watch music unfold. There’s a detailed rhythm to the recording of an album and that night I got to see the steps and work put forth by three men who want to make it big. What other damn reason would you be expressing yourself with so much passion for?
Each guy has a story that’s rooted in artistic drive and flawed grace. As a friend and fan alike, I wanted to get the back story behind the need for this trio to use their free time to create something special. I write in my free time and do so because I feel I have something to offer people and it energizes my soul. When I talked to Mathon about describing his music, the man was as blunt as a solo at Madison Square Garden. “Saint Louis old school, birthplace, rhythm & blues, rock and roll, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Muddy Waters influence on the whole sonic and physical vibe of the music.” Wrap your head around that.
Mathon, vocalist and pianist, hasn’t been easy on himself. He is one of those artists who will sit there and tell you every day is a struggle. This is the same guy who signed to a local hip-hop soul development deal as a teenager, eventually selling an urban-radio ad jingle to McDonald’s through local 3rd party producers. He moved to St. Louis from Chicago at the age of 14, and met Mays based on their shared love of music in Brentwood High School. Total opposites in personality while Mays was off pursuing his musical ambitions and education, Mathon would dedicate his time to the streets. Mathon became enclosed in the deadly web of the sale and use of narcotics, eventually doing a two year prison sentence, spending the majority of his incarceration sharpening his musical sword. Upon release he bounced around from local bands and production teams before hooking back up with Mays to write and record the “I Cant Believe How Much Of An Asshole Im Not Being” EP.
Guitarist/ drum programmer Jordan Mays studied music theory, classical guitar and audio engineering at the Art Institute of Atlanta, even doing live sound for indie critically acclaimed band “The Black Lips”. He grew up in Brentwood, MO and was born to a heavily artistic and musically inclined mother who raised him.
Amonte Henry started playing the drums at the age of two. His dad Gary Henry taught the young Amonte and was his first and largest infleunce. Other influences are Dennis Chambers, Tony Royster, and Eric Moore. He’s played for multiple churches and bands. Henry studies music at El Camino Jr. college and got his bachelor degree in music. He also played for Charlie Wilson’s nephew KC Wilson for 2 years.
I love helping my friends get noticed and I am always eager to extend my skills to broaden their horizons. Sometimes, a bigger dent is made. Mathon told me this past week that a woman from his past looked up Mathon and saw my first column I wrote on him and the band earlier this winter. Mathon told me the girl loved it and could see he had turned his life around as a result of digging deep into his music. That made me feel good and solidified my work here.
Mathon, Mays and Henry get together religiously and play. They record. They break down songs. Stop and start. They want to get this right. Henry once stopped a song three times because something didn’t seem right. The trio are hell bent on making their first live show a sight to see.
Walking into Utopia Studios, one gets the feeling Jimi Hendrix could have rocked out in one of those rooms way back in the day. Part of me thinks, maybe, I am witnessing the next great band. 1917 Soundtrack are bound by a mutual bond to make it big in the world of music. These guys are willing to bleed for their craft. Watch out.