By: Dan Agacki
Photo courtesy by Matt Planton
Matt Planton has been kicking around the Sheboygan punk scene since the mid-90's. He got his start in the spiky haired teenage street punk of the Allied Victims and later moved on to The Shutups and Abort! Abort! His current solo endeavor, Radio Hate, has a newly released album, Psychotherapy, available via Sheboygan's Urban Pirate Records. Before diving into a full conversation with Planton, we turned to the man himself to fill in the origin story of his project.
Radio Hate was conceived in the summer of 2007 when I worked for a local pizza place. I returned to the store from a delivery to find the radio blaring the same goddamned song that was playing when I left less than an hour earlier. This didn’t really seem to bother anyone else, but it bothered me. The manufactured bullshit pop songs devoid of actual lyrical content were being drilled into the brains of the masses. The idea for a song entitled Radio Hate floated around my head in the days after Abort! Abort!, and years later finally grew into the moniker for a full-fledged project.
Why release an album and not play shows?
I really enjoy making music that I love and sharing it with people. I had a pretty long stint of not playing in bands, and I accumulated a lot of song ideas that I really wanted to get out of my head and recorded for real. The easiest way to make that happen was to just do it myself.
What would it take to do shows, or are you satisfied with Radio Hate being a studio band?
I will still be satisfied if it just remains a studio thing, but I’m always thinking about how to make a live band a reality... stay tuned!
Who played on the album?
Me. Just me. The only things I didn’t do were the artwork, which my good friend Silas [Haglund] did a fantastic job on, and publishing by Urban Pirate Records here in Sheboygan.
Is the album completely home recorded?
Yup. Everything was done in my basement in Sheboygan.
How did you get started with home recording?
I’ve always been fascinated with audio production, and when I decided to record my songs I thought it was a good time to find out what it would take to do it myself. Fortunately my friend Phil [Frederick, guitarist for Abort! Abort!] provided me with some wonderful help to get started! Interestingly enough, now I find it next to impossible to listen to any music without technically dissecting it.
How do you go about writing and recording songs on your own? Do you start with a particular instrument?
It almost always starts with a vocal melody. I’m a chronic whistler and anything catchy that comes to mind I whistle/hum to my phone right away to make sure I don’t lose it. From there I figure out how the guitar goes with the melody and either find other parts in my archive that might go with it or see where the guitar takes me and figure out the vocal melody for that. Next, I make sure I can actually sing what I’m trying to do and change the key if needed. I often have a few takes of nonsense-syllable vocals that sometimes develop into usable word fragments. Typically the lyrics are the last thing to happen, but I have a long list of ideas to draw from. Once the whole song is mapped out, I’ll add bass, drums, vocals, guitar solos, and occasionally keys/effects.
What do you use for recording?
I record direct into a Presonus Firestudio Project into Reaper. Reaper is amazingly less expensive than Pro Tools and I haven’t found anything it can’t do. We are living in the golden age of home recording. It’s insane what can be done with an inexpensive setup and a little know-how.
Do you record other bands?
Yes! I started Rocket Vault Studios a few years ago. I’ve worked with quite a few local bands over the past 5 years. It’s been a wonderful learning experience and each new project turns out better than the last. It’s nice to be able to offer the full package of tracking through mastering at prices that no “real studio” can touch. I do enjoy the mixing and mastering the most and I hope to focus mainly on that moving forward. There is something awesome about getting tracks of a song I’ve never heard and just trying to make it sound as good as I can and add my personal touch where it feels necessary.
Would you ever re-do any Allied Victims songs since they were barely documented at the time?
There is a very real possibility of this. There are some classics that should certainly be recorded. When we pulled together a “Radio Hate Live” band for the History of Sheboygan Punk Rock release show, we did play “War or Business.” I can’t believe we used to play that fast! We also played one of (Allied Victims vocalist/guitarist) Nick D’s new songs. Good times. A big thanks to these guys for making the few live shows happen with little to no practice:
Drew Fredrichsen – Guitar
Steve (Felix) Chapla – Bass
Jarrod (Meathead) Schroeder – Drums
Nick Dreifuerst – Vocals
Aaron Doolittle – Vocals
Nix Schumacher – Vocals
It seems like there's always been at least a few punk bands kicking around Sheboygan, is there anything going on there now?
Yes! While some of the older bands have gone semi or totally defunct, there is a new generation picking up the slack. I highly recommend giving both Garbage Man and St. Liberty a listen. Nick from Garbage Man sang for The Kepones a few years ago. I helped them record their first two albums. The whole time it just reminded me so much of being 17 in Allied Victims. In addition, I’m playing guitar in The Darwin Trap, and I’ve heard rumors of a few new bands that are in the works made up of former members of Dead Metephores, TIGT, The Dixxx, etc. The Jetty Boys seem to play occasionally when [bassist] Eric [Mahnke] makes his way back to town.
What bands inform what you're doing in Radio Hate?
There is such a hugely broad range of bands that have and continue to influence me that it is difficult to sum it up. When it comes down to it, I think the most influential are the late ‘70s / early ‘80s British bands: Blitz, Cock Sparrer, The Blood, etc., followed closely by the likes of Oxymoron, Rancid, The Misfits and classics like The Who and Thin Lizzy. This is far from an exhaustive list.
Any future plans for the band?
Well I’ve got 2 songs finished for the next album, so that will be a thing hopefully next summer. I will definitely continue to ponder making Radio Hate a real live band. In the meantime I’ll be going to every show that I can get to. There are so many bands doing 30 and 40-year anniversary tours. Every chance to see them live could be the last. Stiff Little Fingers in Milwaukee tonight!
Regardless of what the future holds, there is punk rock in my blood and I’ll always be working on something.