Q&A with Gino Matteo & Jade Bennett, a collective of brilliant musicians - breath of fresh air to the music world

"I think it’s personal to everyone how music hits them. Songs inspire people and movements, but I never write that way. I write for myself to get things off my chest and feel better about my life. It’s the only thing that helps me. I want people to hear themselves in the songs I write, of course. But that’s never the goal. The goal is to get out of my own head."

Bennett Matteo Band: Shake The Roots

Bennett Matteo Band is a collective of brilliant musicians led by guitarist and writer Gino Matteo and vocal powerhouse Jade Bennett. Extremely improvisational while having their feet planted in roots music, BMB are a breath of fresh air to the music world. Gulf Coast Records announces the signing of the Bennett Matteo Band to the label and the upcoming release of their debut CD, Shake the Roots, on May 20. The album is available for pre-order on April 8th. Shake the Roots was produced by multi-Blues Music Award nominee Kid Andersen and Gino Matteo, with all songs written by Gino Matteo & Jade Bennett. Gino Matteo is carving the spot he deserves as a “force of nature” in the roots world. A sensational guitarist, songwriter and powerfully emotional live performer, he empowered the Sugaray Rayford hit machine for nearly a decade. Gino has destroyed countless audiences in the US and abroad with his powerful wit, gut ripping playing, and incredibly gifted musicianship. His explosive, spontaneous, and original live show stands with the most legendary of blues players. Gino, along with the gutsy soul-power vocals of his lovely and talented wife Jade Bennett, have been heating up the blues circuit across the western US and internationally. This hard charging dream team brings a raw and soulful interpretation to roots music, moving it forward progressively and creatively.                     (Bennett Matteo Band / Photo by Jade Bennett)

Bennett and Matteo met in 2010 in Southern California at a gig. Gino ended up sitting in with Jade and once she started singing, he knew they had to play together. They almost immediately moved in together and started writing music while Gino toured with Sugaray Rayford, all the while keeping a catalog of music going with Jade. BMB wouldn't be formed for nearly a decade, as Gino's tour schedule became more hectic.  They played shows together anytime Gino was in town and Jade joined the Sugaray Rayford Band on tour as a backup singer a number of times. Over time, through touring and home life, Jade and Gino decided to go nomad and live full time off-grid. They decided the only thing they wanted to do was play music and live on their own terms. That dream became a reality as COVID swept the world.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Roots and Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Matteo: Empathy mostly. Music is the only language the entire world understands, and I’ve seen the same smiles all over the planet. There’s a collective ocean in music and it’s healing. The same hurt and pain that ruins my life is the same as yours and the elevation we feel from music we love is the ocean we’re swimming in. I’ve learned we’re all the same and to have patience and empathy, I hope.

How do you describe band's sound and songbook? What musicians have continued to inspire you and your music?

Bennett: Honestly, there’s no way to describe it. It’s a mish-mash of everything we love. We never want to hold back on doing what we want to do, and we don’t think about the genre we’re in. I’d say we’re roots, and blues based as most things are at their core. Our sound comes from our daily life and our feelings. St. Vincent is a really big one for me right now. Beth Hart is amazing especially live. Emily King is a huge current favorite. David Bowie is a constant inspiration. Queens of the Stone Age, Type O Negative, Patsy Cline. I’m all over the place like Gino.

Matteo: I agree. I’m inspired by artists and bands that refuse genre. Fishbone, Mars Volta, Mr. Bungle, Phish, Funkadelic all are my favorites. I’ve been chasing a Bernie Worrell sound but on the guitar for many years. He was a true genius. I’m obsessed with Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Leon Russell, Clara Rockmore, Sidney Bechet… I can answer this question for a long time, so I’ll stop.           (Photo: Bennett Matteo Band)

"Our sound comes from our daily life and our feelings. St. Vincent is a really big one for me right now. Beth Hart is amazing especially live. Emily King is a huge current favorite. David Bowie is a constant inspiration. Queens of the Stone Age, Type O Negative, Patsy Cline. I’m all over the place like Gino."

Currently you’ve band's debut release with Gulf Coast Records. How did that relationship come about? Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album Shake the Roots?

Matteo: We originally recorded the album for another label. They heard the final album and decided they didn’t want to put it out because it wasn’t bluesy enough. That’s been a constant and it probably always will be. Too bluesy for some, not bluesy enough for blues. So, our awesome friend Kid Anderson decided to pitch the record to Gulf Coast Records. They loved it thankfully and here we are. Everything worked out much better and I’m really excited to be working with Gulf Coast. They’re rad. 3a Working at Greaseland is heaven for a nerd like me. Kid Andersen has truly made a tiny recording oasis where every piece of gear you could imagine is all in one space. It may not be interesting to some. But for me, being able to pick any guitar pedal and guitar on earth was heaven.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Matteo: I miss road dogging it. I miss there being venues in every town in the country. When I first started playing, I’d be able to play 7 nights a week if I wanted to and playing a different genre every night. My hope is that another writer like Kurt Cobain comes along and rights the sails of popular music. My fear is that that can’t happen because music is a product, and it has to be pretty with perfect teeth and have backing tracks and the ones singing the songs are hardly ever the writers.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Bennett: To me, it means I have different body parts and I’m a lot prettier. haha I wish brilliant women were showcased more in music. I think the current status is the same. But I feel like it’s getting better, I hope.         (Bennett Matteo Band / Photo by Jade Bennett)

"I miss road dogging it. I miss there being venues in every town in the country. When I first started playing, I’d be able to play 7 nights a week if I wanted to and playing a different genre every night. My hope is that another writer like Kurt Cobain comes along and rights the sails of popular music. My fear is that that can’t happen because music is a product, and it has to be pretty with perfect teeth and have backing tracks and the ones singing the songs are hardly ever the writers."

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Matteo: I think it’s personal to everyone how music hits them. Songs inspire people and movements, but I never write that way. I write for myself to get things off my chest and feel better about my life. It’s the only thing that helps me. I want people to hear themselves in the songs I write, of course. But that’s never the goal. The goal is to get out of my own head. Haha

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Matteo: My most important lessons came from knowing what NOT to do. Haha. I’ve worked with a lot of bands. Some of them had great dynamics on and off stage and were super organized and professional, some not so much. Patience and empathy are really important.

Bennett: Be kind and helpful to others but remember to keep your dreams close to your heart because others can and will use you to achieve theirs.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Bennett: I’d spend a day with my mother again.

Matteo: I’d tell my younger self to eat less carbs and sugar.

Bennett Matteo Band - Home

(Bennett Matteo Band / Photo by Jade Bennett)

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