A year or so ago, I got to know an old high school friend Mario Mathon. He was an ambitious young man and fellow Italian. As young wise guys, we shoot for the stars and wait for permission later. Mario and I were admirers of the sweet science of boxing and slaves to a good cup of coffee, and he asked me to write something up about a band he was starting up. Along with Amonte Henry on drums and Jordan Mays on guitar, Mathon wanted to take the world by storm by plunging listeners into a world of soul, R&B and storytelling. The kind of music where you forget that your feet have to touch the ground and you literally take flight. It’s hard to find a single genre for Mathon’s band, 1917 Soundtrack. His band doesn’t settle for one sound. They take a road trip through the different floors of music and don’t need an elevator. If you have the chance to be in a studio recording room with Henry’s mad drums and Mays’ electric guitar streaks, you don’t need to worry about stopping. On December 26th on Channel 11 in St. Louis, Missouri, 1917 Soundtrack gets a spotlight. What the hell am I talking about? Let the man behind the idea, Mario himself, sell it to you.
“1917 Soundtrack’s sound is Sex, Drugs, Guns, Religion and Society in Neo-Soul, Smooth Jazz layers. It could at once be a history lesson yet a party, obsession of high designer materialism yet a celebration of barefoot socialist utopian community, incense and herbal teas yet menthol cigarettes and malt liquor. The sonic story of urban America from the Harlem Renaissance to now as aesthetic ambiguity in the form of funk bass, intricately fuzzy, delta blues garage rock tones, intense drum-patterns soaked in mainstream Urban’s gloss.”
Mathon is a passionate fellow, and someone who will fall on a sword for a great song and the chance to light up someone’s life with a shower of blues. He has lived a tough life and been through the lower gates of hell. He administered the drug that sent him to the basement, but through that experience, he found an idea of channeling his rage. Henry and Mays suited up for the mission. A man of few words but deeply rooted emotion, Mays lets his guitar speak for itself. He studied music theory, classical guitar and audio engineering at the Art Institute of Atlanta I’ve always associated a guitarist with taking over when the drummer is reloading and the singer is taking a breath. Henry doesn’t just play with sticks. He lights up the drum set with a sound that can redefines the phrase, “Let’s Get Loud”.
Together, these three created something. This past spring, they added a few extra hands. Sean Birt takes over the keyboard and Nick Foster handles the bass. Every great band starts out with a lost soul wandering the world in a suit looking for fellow half broken hearted misfits to start something with. Mathon has crafted a fine group here coming a long way from being a teenager who signed a development deal as a hip hop soul artist and selling a jingle to McDonalds through a third party. The demons may have kept Mathon at bay but he has pulled his act together and found a group of artists as ambitious as himself. The greatest musicians don’t hide the demons in their head. They invite them into the room that they live and create in.
They managed to put a tour together while acting as college students, blue-collar laborers, and activists involved in everything from interns at ACLU and Planned Parenthood to Food Bank USA, the well-known homeless and soup kitchen distributors. They look to an ambitious 2015 as their first national tour takes shape. “Sexual Divinity” is available on CDBaby.com and iTunes. As their YouTube subscribers grows by the hundreds off the back of their successful “Darling Nikki” Prince cover which now has over 100,000 views.
After a few false starts and a lot of hard work from people who didn’t have a care in the world outside of being a part of something special, 1917 Soundtrack is climbing up that hill. Be a part of the movement right now. Be a part of something real.
Start by purchasing “Sexual Divinity” here. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/1917soundtrack4
Somewhere down the line, after the music has downloaded not only into your Itunes library but into your soul, you will understand what true determination and storytelling are all about. I know about it first hand, catching this band at the beginning and seeing them take the steps towards the promised land.