Interview with vocalist Chris Matulich | By Tim Anderl
Although Sciatic Nerve are new to the punk landscape, their ranks boast a lineup of veteran punk mainstays whose resumes include releases on Fat Wreck Chords, BYO Records, and Red Scare Industries, among many others. Comprised of Chris Matulich and Kyle Lindauer of Nothington; Luke Ray of Swingin’ Utters and Cobra Skulls; and Tony Teixeira of Western Addiction, Nothington, and Cobra Skulls, the band meld a wealth of experience to create a reinvigorated punk style that roars with ferocity and carries its own set of messages.
Their self-titled debut LP, which hit the streets via Anxious & Angry Records on Oct. 13, waves this passionate, socially conscious banner wildly and proudly.
Music press seems to be leading with “veteran” and “supergroup” when they discuss Sciatic Nerve. Is this a blessing or a curse? Both or neither?
I don’t really know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I think it’s really silly to say we are a “supergroup,” because none of us are famous musicians. It’s not like we are the Traveling Wilburys. That was a supergroup. It is nice that the press is acknowledging our past projects and accomplishments in music, I guess, but I don’t know if that really makes a difference.
This band sounds a lot different than any of the other bands any of us have been associated with, but at the same time, the years of experience we have writing songs does shine through on this record. The songs are simple for the most part, but they are well done, and I think people will be stoked to hear what we’ve come up with. You don’t learn to collaborate with people and write good music overnight, and I think that’s the point of letting people know we’ve been creating music and touring in bands for so long.
What are the best and worst parts of making music with people you’ve known for 20 years?
The best part is that we’re all good friends, and there’s nothing better than doing things and building something you care about with people you enjoy being around. We don’t have to make major personality compromises the way some bands do. There are plenty of bands out there that don’t really get along a lot of the time, because they don’t understand each other. If there’s one thing you gain after 20 years of hanging out together, it’s an understanding of those people.
I’m not sure what the worst thing is. Things are pretty good in this band.
Who was the coolest of the bunch in junior high?
Shit, I’m not sure there was a coolest. We were all kind of dorks as kids, but I know for a fact it wasn’t me. When I met Kyle and Tony in junior high art class, I think they just called me “grunge dude” or something like that at first. I guess because I had long hair and I was usually wearing brown corduroy pants with a Nirvana shirt and a chain wallet. Those two were in a band with Ian [Anderson] from Dead To Me around that time, so they had that going for them.
I think Ian was the coolest of the bunch.
What is it about punk music that initially resonated with you? What is it about it that still resonates with you?
Punk music resonated with me at first because of its energy. Growing up listening to awesome classic rock bands from my dad’s CD collection set me up to appreciate good songwriting and good melodies. Grunge was in full swing by the time I discovered punk in sixth grade. When I heard Green Day and Rancid for the first time, I was floored. It was nothing like my dad’s music, and it had so much more energy than the darker, slower grunge bands of the time. It took me another year or two to go beyond Green Day, Rancid, and the Sex Pistols—because I didn’t really understand that underground music existed—but once I started discovering bands from Fat Wreck Chords comps and Punk-O-Rama comps, I was completely drawn in by the energy that punk music had to offer.
It was also angry and political in a time when we were all just learning that the world was a shitty place run by greedy, morally corrupt people. The social commentary I found in the music is something that also drew me in and still resonates with me today. Some people don’t think music with a message is important, but I think some of the best music ever has been created out of passion for protest and social unrest.
Your self-titled debut was recorded in a barn. What was that experience like?
Recording this album was a lot of fun. Not just because it was recorded in a barn, but that did help make it unique, for sure. We recorded it ourselves and got to spend a lot of time experimenting with tones and sounds and different mixes. The barn is on our bass player Kyle’s property that he lives on, and he recorded and mixed it over the summer. We would sometimes pop in for a day or two to lay down more tracks whenever we had time, and that was nice, because it was stress-free. Recording an album is a very stressful thing, especially when you are recording on a small few-thousand-dollar budget. Every hour is valuable and staying on schedule is important because of how expensive the process can become otherwise. But for us, it was just a cool project we pieced together whenever we had time to get up to the barn and hang out for an afternoon. It was a totally different recording experience than I’ve had in the past.
What are your proudest moments on the record?
Proudest moments are something I never really thought about. I think the cool guitar and bass work you can hear on tracks like “Bright Lights” and “My Head [Is Not a Toy]” are a highlight. I also like that we threw in a few songs to throw the record off track, with songs like “Get Away” and “Things I Can Look At.” Just when you think you have the band figured out, we throw in songs like those and others that change the direction of things rather abruptly. I think that’s the sort of planning that makes albums interesting beyond the first listen.
You recently released the video for “Buy a Horse,” which you’ve said is about someone being fed up with their job, society, the daily pains of living. What is a part of your daily routine that you absolutely hate?
Personally, I don’t hate anything on a daily basis, but I think the sentiment in the song is something we all feel from time to time. I like my job and my routine just fine, but a few songs on this album deal with that theme, so I guess we felt it more often this year. I guess I feel this way when I’m waking up and seeing the news headlines on my phone every morning. I just can’t believe what’s going on in our world this last year. I see Trump’s name on the headlines each day, then my stomach turns, and I’m already starting my day off wanting to leave it all behind. There’s been a lot of frustration lately, and I think you can probably hear that on the album in songs like “Buy a Horse” and “I Give Up.”
The ‘90s or now: which was/is better for you and why?
I loved the ‘90s; 1994 was one of the most significant years I can remember. [Green Day’s] Dookie came out, and Tom Petty’s album Wild Flowers came out that year too. The World Cup came to the U.S. for the first time, and Italy lost to Brazil in the final in a dramatic shootout. “Pulp Fiction” came out, and it was the coolest movie I’d ever seen. The 49ers won the Super Bowl with Steve Young and Jerry Rice in their prime. I was 12, and life was alright that year.
However, the limitations of being a kid and wanting to get out in the world were very stressful for me by the time I got to high school. All I wanted to do was tour and play music, but we just had to wait for that. Now, I’m self-employed, make my own schedule for the most part, get to play music and tour with my best friends from high school whenever I want—and I can eat breakfast for dinner if I want to, because I’m an adult. So, for those reasons, I think now is better.
Your album came out on Friday the 13th. Have you ever had a run-in with something supernatural?
A few months ago, my other band, Nothington, was driving in Southern California at dusk to meet up with Swingin’ Utters for a few shows, and somewhere between Long Beach and Ventura, we saw a UFO on the highway. It wasn’t a typical flying saucer, but there was no explanation for what we saw. It was a bright vertical streak in the sky and almost looked like a comet coming into the atmosphere. We all stared at it for a few minutes trying to figure out what it was, because it wasn’t falling in the sky like a comet, it was stationary. After a few minutes, the streak slowly started to turn until it was completely horizontal. Then, it just disappeared. What the fuck? It was so weird. I like alien shit. I was a huge “X-Files” fan.
If you were the star of a slasher movie, what tool would you use to dispatch people?
I don’t know. The sight of blood used to make me dizzy. I used to faint every time I got a shot at the hospital. It’s not so bad now, and fake blood might be all right, but I still might not be a great slasher film star.
What are your loftiest goals for Sciatic Nerve?
We are trying not to set too many expectations for this band and just see where things go. But I’d like to play Groezrock [in Belgium] or Punk Rock Holiday [in Slovenia] next year. That’s a pretty lofty goal for a band putting out their first album only a few months before they start booking those festivals. Would be cool to play Punk Rock Bowling too.
Photo by Alan Snodgrass