“I’m always just keen to get inside the inspiration that makes people tick, whether they’re artists or just human beings…I just want to learn about them and from them. That has always been my driving force and guiding light.”
Matt Stocks is a name you may or may not be familiar with, but one thing is for sure: If you were to browse through his extensive catalog of work, you’d most likely be wondering how the hell you’ve never heard of him-if that were the case.
In short, Matt Stocks is a UK-based podcaster, writer, DJ, presenter, and a DIY champion through and through. Over the course of the past five years, he’s achieved 250 episodes with his personal podcast, Life In The Stocks, which features unedited, in-depth, candid conversations with musicians, actors, comedians and creatives.
Furthermore, over the course of the past year, he’s accumulated 50 soul-stirring episodes with Stoke The Fire, a more profound podcast he co-hosts with Jesse Leach (Killswitch Engage, Times Of Grace).
Digging a bit deeper, Stocks is committed to uncovering ways to connect with people through meaningful conversation-expressed through his punk rock filter, of course. His genuine nature, mindfulness, and ability to navigate conversation, has allowed for both his guests and himself, to connect on a deeper level.
“I just love people. I’ve always been sociable. I’ve always been outgoing. I’ve always been intrigued and kind of sympathetic to other people’s stories and their struggles and that’s just from having a life that’s been fairly colorful myself,” says Stocks. “I can relate to people who’ve had to overcome pain and live with heartache.”
Stocks got his start in the music industry over a decade ago as a host of the Evening Show on Kerrang! Radio, and moved on to write for Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and more. After sharpening his skills over the course of his years in music journalism, Stocks eventually branched off and became wholly dedicated to using his effective skills in communication to engage in much more meaningful conversation.
“Radio interviews generally are really short and kind of generic, you often only get five, ten minutes, with which to work…The start of my interview style was really just generic, short, ‘how’s the new album?’ or ‘How’s tour?’ etc., but right out of the gate, I always loved interviewing more than any other part of presenting,” says Stocks
After finding himself in a position where he needed to shift course a bit, he decided it was the right move to launch his podcast in 2017, mentioning, “All my time, energy, attention, and development, all went into that.”
“I was going through a very difficult time in my life when I launched the show and I found that I could almost get what was on my mind off my chest in the interviews. I would never want to make the interviews about me, but what I found I could do on the podcast platform-which is why I love the medium so much-you can take it away from generic Q&A and you can really make it just about soulful communication and connection.”
He continues, “If I’m going to slightly difficult, sensitive, subjects, I want to do so respectfully and with integrity and authenticity. I also want the artist to trust me, so if I’m asking them to trust me, I have to show that they can, so that’s why I’ll sometimes reveal certain details about myself.”
Fast forward to early 2020, just before the pandemic, when a serendipitous meeting between Stocks and Tyson Cornell, Founder/Owner of Rare Bird Lit and Rare Bird Books, took place.
This ignited Stocks’ journey of transcribing select episodes from his personal podcast and compiling them into a three volume book series-the first of which, Life In The Stocks: Veracious Conversations with Musicians & Creatives (Volume I), released back in December of 2020. Volume II, which will be made available March 29, 2022, and Volume III, which is currently in the works.
“What the book projects allow me to do is cherry pick the best of my favorite episodes and present them in a way that if you’re going to read the book from cover to cover, you’re gonna to get exposed to new people-even if they’re widely known-they just might not be known to you,” says Stocks.
“You’re going to discover new people and hear new stories and I think perhaps if the books didn’t exist, then they would have been overlooked by a lot of people who listen to the show. And that’s really what I love about putting the books together, is looking at it like a greatest hits collection.”
Guests featured on Life In The Stocks include Rob Halford, Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Tom Morello, Yelawolf, Zakk Wylde, Frank Turner, Lars Frederiksen, Nita Strauss, Vinnie Stigma, Myles Kennedy, Tommy Chong, Jaz Coleman, Scott Ian, Jerry Cantrell, Tom Green, Robb Flynn, Mina Caputo, B-Real, Chuck D, and hundreds more.
Although some of these names are more easily recognizable, as Stocks mentioned, there’s a wealth of guests that are well-known, just maybe not to you, and through my personal experience, those are some of the richest connections that await the reader; or listener.
Stocks goes on to say, “The most fun part of the whole process was compiling the chapters. Once the transcriptions were all done, then I would pick out the best bits from each interview that I wanted to use, and then I would order them in a way which told a story with regards to specific themes, and that was super fun. I really enjoyed that part.”
The chapters in Volume II include “The Pursuit of Happiness,” “Influence & Inspiration,” “Creative Relationships,” and more, with a foreword by Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die, The Damned Things). Stocks and Buckley have been able to form a strong bond over the years, so in regards to Keith Buckley’s foreword, Stocks says with a genuine appreciation, “He just kind of tapped into the core of what I do in only a couple paragraphs; it wasn’t a very long foreword. It just felt like he summarized it in a really beautiful complimentary way that really moved me and validated me.”
What Stocks’ work offers, both with his podcasts and now with his books, is a diverse collection of unique perspectives from people who’ve dedicated their lives to creative endeavors-many of who lived hell-for-leather (respectfully). Stocks taps into these stories with respect and grace, allowing for beautiful reflections and thought-provoking moments to shine through.
At a certain point in his life, Stocks might tell you that he had an appetite for destruction. However, it seems that through a desire to learn from his negative experiences, he’s developed his ardor for conversation. Now it can be said that his conversations have the ability to arouse the mind, inspire wonder, and broaden the perspective of anyone who cares to listen or read.
The opportunity to either learn from the text or connect to it is there in spades, for better or for worse. With that in mind, Stocks states: “If I come away from a conversation feeling like I understand more about my life after it, then that’s the ultimate goal. Because then hopefully I know that somebody else will listen to it, or read it, and think more about their own engagement with the world as a result. And that is the testament to the power of conversation.”
Check out the launch show of the initial Life In The Stocks volume here:
For more from Matt Stocks, check out his podcast on Spotify and Apple.
Photo courtesy of Gobinder Jhitta