Interview with Matt Auxier | By Tim Anderl | Photo By Jacki Vitetta
With nearly two decades in metal, hardcore, rock, and experimental music to his credit, Master Servos’ Matt Auxier is no stranger to the DIY ethos; independent labels; basement, rental hall, and bar shows; or frenzied, teeth-baring audiences. As a former member of Eyes Upon Separation, Zao, Pretty Weapons, and, most recently, the krautrock-inspired EYE, perhaps the only thing that Auxier hasn’t done is make the audience dance—in the “traditional” sense.
“I’ve always been into a lot of different styles of music, so it’s been nice to explore different areas over my foray into music,” Auxier admits. “Change has been a constant too. I definitely like evolving as an artist. It keeps it fresh.”
In 2014, while playing guitarist for Columbus, Ohio’s EYE, Auxier began flirting with electronic music, studying the playbooks of Christian Death, Front 242, Depeche Mode, and other notable darkwave pioneers. This was a fairly different artistic pursuit than others he’d pursued. “Most of my hesh friends are weirded out by it, but I’ve definitely had some support too,” he says. “There’s definitely a connection with angry dance music and metal [and] hardcore kids.”
One of Auxier’s former EYE collaborators has been particularly supportive of the new direction he’s taken in Master Servos. Multi-instrumentalist Lisa Bella Donna—considered by some to be the Midwest’s leading synth maestro—continues to influence Auxier’s craft. “Lisa and I [have] had many hours of conversation about synths, so she’s definitely been an influence,” he reflects. “She’s a good friend to [me], and it’s always nice to have someone that knowledgeable and willing to share around you. Plus, I’ve never met anyone more talented in that realm.”
The group, which includes vocalist Ian Mausoleum, began working on their self-titled debut in 2014, releasing it in 2016. Their sophomore effort, Psychic Readings, followed hot on their debut’s heels in late 2017. “With [Psychic Readings], Ian and I kind of settled into our roles more, where I make the music and record it and he writes the words and vocal melodies,” Auxier says. “It makes it more cohesive and allows us to focus more, so I think this record is more focused and together. Plus, it allows us to pursue some side projects we are doing.”
Master Servos recently completed a two-week U.S. tour with Child Of Night and are already making plans for summer and fall trips. For now, their goal remains simple and concise. “The goal is always to make music we’re proud of,” Auxier shares. “We like to ask ourselves, ‘Would I listen to this record if I wasn’t in the band?’”