Jared Mattson | Photo courtesy Embry Rucker
Jared Mattson, who is one half of jazz duo Mattson 2 and is best known for his work with chillwave virtuoso Toro Y Moi, is coming to Last Exit Live in Phoenix on April 3 in support of his new solo project. The catch? He hasn’t released an album yet.
“In a very 1980s fashion, I will be touring and grinding shows as a power trio before any release of the record or its material,” he says.
Mattson will be touring with Seattle-based six-piece High Pulp, an experimental jazz band that draws influences from an eclectic array of genres including punk rock, shoegaze and hip-hop.
Mattson started playing guitar at age 12 and didn’t “start taking it seriously” until he was 15, when he discovered metal musicians like Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne. His love for jazz developed after listening to the John Coltrane album Giant Steps. “It was literally like a quantum leap into jazz, and I’ve never looked back,” he says.
High Pulp drummer Bobby Granfelt is eager to play with Mattson. “It’s a fun pairing because I think both projects are really after the same thing: really being in the moment, and that’s fun for a crowd to see,” he says. The band has six core members, but often performs with up to 12 people.
High Pulp’s saxophonist, Andy Morrill, resonates with discovering jazz as a “metal kid.” Though he grew up listening primarily to rock, he’s especially inspired by iconic jazz composers such as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Granfelt adds that the group’s influences elude genre boundaries. “It’s more of just being inspired by people that we consider to be geniuses,” the drummer says, who also notes Kanye West and Bob Dylan as big musical influences. “Inspiration is not limited to a certain genre and therefore all of that music seeps its way into our aesthetic and our approach.”
Mattson’s biggest influence when it comes to music is The Clash – he reveres the punk rockers’ work ethic and reggae roots. He also admires the Police, BADBADNOTGOOD and the composition and production of Japanese music from the ’70s and ’80s.
Granfelt believes the best musicians don’t limit themselves to one sort of sound. “You’re not going to go to a restaurant and be like, ‘I know about food,’ but only eat one kind of food,” he explains. “You’re going to lean into your appreciation of pasta if you learn to love sushi.” The band’s influences also extend beyond music – Granfelt includes movies, food and art as creative catalysts.
Mattson, who has played at several venues around the Valley with Mattson 2, is excited to return to the desert. “It feels new, vibrant, untapped and real,” he says of Phoenix. “It’s not a city with a chip on its shoulder or that’s trying to be cool. It just feels really genuine.”
“As music makers, we really care about the audience and the feedback and energy that they’re putting out. You want to say what you want to say and play what you want to play for yourself, but you also have to cater to them as well,” he explains. “I felt that the audience was really giving a lot emotionally and down to go on this journey with us. [Phoenix] is just a vibrant crowd, real and encouraging.”
Both bands are looking forward to the intimate vibe of Last Exit Live, which Mattson says will lend itself well to the nature of the show and his new, never-released material. “I like this romantic idea of just playing shows to play shows, not really playing for any other reason than that,” he says. “Just building the vibe and doing what musicians used to do, detach from any sort of social media or marketing, just making music for people at the show… and the record will come later,” he says, adding that big bands like Black Flag would tour before they got a record deal.
Mattson’s “live power trio” includes Astronauts, etc. frontman and bassist Anthony Ferraro and New Orleans-based drummer Joe Lyle. Mattson says to expect high energy, extended solos and “a balance between the known and unknown.” Morrill adds that High Pulp likes to create a sort of mystique on stage. “We want to confuse you in a good way.”
“From both bands, people should expect some really awesome solos, but some good songwriting to keep you on planet earth,” Mattson says.
Jared Mattson and High Pulp at Last Exit Live
717 S. Central Ave., Phoenix
Sunday, April 3 at 8:30 p.m.