Xtreme Wheels * Buffalo, NY * July 15, 2005
BurningStars.net: Name and position in the band.
Matt: Matt Breen and I sing and play guitar for the band Emanuel.
BS: Where did the name of the band come from?
Matt: When we were 14 and we started the band, we were like a pop punk band and our band was
called Emanuel Nice, and we lie a lot in interviews and say our band name came from drug dealers and
other shit, but it's just not true. I don't even remember where it came from, to be honest with you, but
when we started to be more serious about it a couple years ago, we were going to change our name and
we wanted to pick a band name that really meant something to us. We had so many ideas but all of
them seemed kind of contrived and we were like "well, I mean obviously if anyone says the word
Emanuel for the rest of my life, I'm going to think of my band that I've been in for years now", so we
decided just to cut it down to Emanuel and run with that, and that's the honest story.
BS: What made you get started in playing music?
Matt: I think I'm a pretty sensitive person and I'm really affected by music, music can have a real serious
impact on my emotions, so it's always something that's been pretty close to me and its always been an
important part of my life. No one in my family really played music or anything. My mom was just a big
fan of music, introduced me to a lot of bands at a young age. When I was about 13, I was writing poetry
and writing stories, and I just thought, you know when you're a 13 year old boy, you just think how cool
it would be to be in a band and get attention. So I was like 'mom, buy me an electric guitar' and I just sat
in my bedroom everyday for years and taught myself how to play it. Now I'm glad I did. I'm glad I took
interest in it. It's probably the most important thing in my life right now.
BS: Who are your influences personally and/or musically?
Matt: John Lennon is an influence of mine, personally and musically, so I'll just start with him. I really
love the Beatles music. To some degree I write pop songs and I think a lot of influence in their structure,
but also from his life and his beliefs I try to model myself after sometimes. Other then that, my mom,
which is kind of a corny answer, but it's true. I mean, aside from being the reason I exist, she had me
when she was like 17 and stayed in school and took care of me and raised me and I still pretty much live
off of her, she still pays most of my bills and shit. Other then the Beatles musically, it really varies. I can
say for a fact that when I wrote this record, Refused, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Recover, At The
Drive-In, Armor For Sleep, all those bands were on my mind. But since then, I've really cleared my head
of those kinds of bands. I mean, I still love them, but when you are in a band that plays hard rock music
and you're constantly surrounded by it, all I want to listen to now is like modern stuff, I like the Postal
Service and Bright Eyes, on my iPod I just have a section called oldies and it's just what your local oldies
station would play, like Dancing in the Moonlight or the Kinks or Smokey Robinson. Just really mellow
stuff, because that's part of what music is, its the way to get away from your life and my life is hard rock
music, so now and then I even need an escape from that.
BS: How long did you guys work on Soundtrack To A Headrush?
Matt: Some of the songs we started writing 2 or 3 years ago and we just didn't know where we were
going with it at the time. We were kind of still in high school and kind of just working part time jobs and
we had a lot of other ideas. We were always trying to be a professional band, but when you don't really
know what's happening yet, you don't really know. So we had other jobs, we decided not to go to college.
About 2 years ago was when it really started, we'd be hanging out, working out part time jobs in the
daytime and then meeting at my grandma's house when we practiced in the basement at like 10 PM
every night and me and Anthony would usually write the beginnings of the songs, we'd lay the
groundwork, usually smoke like mad weed, then lay the groundwork for the song. Not saying that's
necessary to write songs, I'm not ever saying that anyone should do that because I really don't ever do it
myself anymore. I'm seriously pretty much done with it entirely. I don't think it makes you a better
songwriter or anything, but I do think that sometimes it can disassociate your thoughts and so you put
old ideas together that you might not have put together otherwise and I think it helps. We wrote the
record then like a year ago, we went into the studio with Machine and recorded it. It's been a fucking
long trip. I'm almost 22 now and I wrote a lot of these songs when I was like 19, so although I love the
record still, it's getting to the point now where maybe I don't exactly feel that way all the time anymore.
I'm ready to express new emotions because I'm growing, you don't ever stop growing.
BS: Do you have a personal favorite song on off of the cd?
Matt: It depends on what mood I'm in. I guess from a songwriters standpoint, I'm happiest with "Breathe
Underwater" because I think it flows well, but it's not my favorite song. If I'm in the mood for like heavy
music, if I'm excited and ready to fucking go on stage and do it, then it's definitely "The New Violence"
cause I really feel that song, I vibe that song. But "Make Tonight" is probably my favorite. I get a lot of
compliments on it and I'm kind of a sucker for compliments, and also, it's just a cool song. That song is
really true to me, it's about this night that I spent with this chick that I'm dating now and it was cool and
it had an impact on my life and a lot of people seem to be able to relate to the song. When you write
songs, its an important feeling to know that people can relate to what you make.
BS: When you write songs, do you write the lyrics first, or the music?
Matt: I have a constant list, it used to be on a piece of notebook paper, but now it's on my Sidekick, of
just phrases. Just little tiny thoughts. And then I write music all the time too. And then when I'll get an
idea musically I'll be like "what does this feel like to me?" and then I'll be like 'well, it feels like this' and I'll
go through my pages and pages and pages of sentences, then I'll be like "cool, I really dig this sentence
and it feels like if I was telling a story, I might use this sentence to relate to this song". So I'll go back and
write lyrics based around that one line that I had. So it's kind of like music and songs loose, just like
random ideas I'm writing all the time and then whenever one concrete musically ideas formed, I form
concrete lyrical ideas around it.
BS: Is one ever harder than the other?
Matt: Yeah, because with musical ideas, I take them to my band, like it's usually my idea originally, but
then I take it to my band and everybody puts input like 'I don't like this, I do like this' and I'll be like
"cool, lets make it this way, lets change it this way", I have a second opinion. But when it comes to lyrics,
usually it's just me, and lyrics and vocals are like the human extension of music so there's really no one
that I can ask if it's right or not, because it's just a matter of whether it's true to me or not. And being my
biggest critic and being a huge critic of myself, it can take me months to write lyrics. Sometimes I get so
BS: If you could be one person for the day, who would it be and why?
Matt: Today, I would be the Dalai Lama and just see what it's like to be at complete peace with life
because the Dalai Lama, he's not afraid of death, he's not afraid of anything that's going to happen, he
just is, you know what I mean? He just exists and he's completely content with that and I think that'd be
cool. But if you asked me the same question tomorrow, I'd probably say something different.
BS: Did you ever take any music classes?
Matt: Nope. I mean, I took like in elementary school where you just sing songs together. I did that shit,
but I was always to shy to sing. So no, not really. But I worked hard to teach myself how to do what I do,
so it almost counts.
BS: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
Matt: Best advice I've gotten was... that's a really hard question. That really asked me to re-evaluate my
whole life in one second. I don't know. The best advice I've ever gotten has just been, my mom told me a
million times, because, I mean, doing what I do can be really frustrating. Sometimes your tired of being
on tour and you just want to go home. My mom would always just like say 'keep trying'. But the best
advice I've ever gotten was maybe from our manager is when I get shy and I feel like I'm not doing shit
right, she just reminds me that I'm not just a guy in a band anymore, I'm an entertainer and I have to go
on stage and even if I'm upset about something at home, sometimes I have to just kind of tuck that in
and not let it show. Sometimes I'm fucking depressed and I don't feel like the song the Hey man, you
know what I mean? Like I don't feel like going up there and fucking screaming like that, but it's my job
and sometimes even what you love is your job and even it feels like a job. But for all those times when I
get frustrated and don't think I can do it, there are just as many times where I can't believe I would ever
question it. It's complicated because to be in this position you have to be really aware of your emotions
but you can't let them control you, you have to control them and it can get fucking hard sometimes.
BS: What is a CD you've been listening to that you'd recommend to others?
Matt: I think The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It's fucking amazing, because that band was like a
poetic, psychedelic band of the 60's and one day they up and decided to write a country record. Lifted by
Bright Eyes like literally changed my life. It's one of those records where I really feel like he wrote it for
me. If no one told me differently, I would believe that he wrote it for me.
BS: If you weren't making music right now, what would you be doing?
Matt: I would be in college studying philosophy because I fucking love it. I'm not really interested in the
day to day, small details of life. I don't care what I eat for lunch, I don't care about my checkbook, I don't
care about... I mean I care about the news, but only because I think about the big picture. I'm in a really
de-basing religion and just wondering about the big questions of life.
BS: What is different now being in a bigger band (i.e. being signed, bigger tours, etc.) as
opposed to before?
Matt: Sleeping in hotels, taking showers everyday, having enough money to have a cell phone and a
Sidekick and nice jeans, eating. It's all a little easier on the self-esteem knowing that people care. But it's
not that much different. There's still being out all day no luxury in my life, other then the AC in the can.
Everything else is still pretty much bare, which is cool.
BS: If you could set up a tour with any band right at this moment, who would it be with?
Matt: It would definitely be Armor For Sleep because they're our close friends, they've helped us out a
lot. I heard the Smashing Pumpkins are getting back together, so them too, because it's fucking one of
my all-time favorite bands.
BS: Can you give us a background to a few of your songs?
Matt: Most of the are kind of about the year that I graduated high school. I was working a part-time job,
just ended a lot of long friendships in my life, a lot of people I'd seen everyday for years I was no longer
seeing. I was wondering what I was doing with my life. It sounds cheesy but I really was drinking and
doing a lot of drugs. Drinking a lot and doing drugs can be really fun, if you're in the right state of mind,
but I wasn't, I was bummer out and it just made things worse and that whole record is pretty much
realizing for the first time that I'm becoming an adult and I'm an anxious, uncertain, depressed person
and the whole record is almost like denial or fighting. But all the songs I'm writing now are like a real
level of acceptance, I am who I am and I appreciate that, even if it is sad sometimes. I am who I am and I
appreciate that. So our next record is going to be a big turn around. I think a lot of people are going to
realize on our next record that there is a lot less screaming and a lot less angry and a lot more of just
sadness but I'm not concerned with it really because I think it's really important to be honest because
there are plenty of artist who aren't going to be honest. I'm sure there are plenty of bands who are big
now and they're writing songs using the formula that works for them, like "hey we sold a million records
on this, let's do it again." I haven't got to that point yet, hopefully I never will, but I certainly haven't now.
So our next record if going to be a clean slate for me. I'm not worried about where I came from or what
Emanuel is, I'm not trying to reinvent Emanuel, I'm just trying to be true because that's what it's all
BS: That's good because you see some bands that kind of lose themselves with "fame" and are
starting to get noticed and all that and after they get noticed they start losing themselves.
Matt: No doubt. Yeah, that won't happen to us, I promise. We'll break up before that'll ever happen
because we've been doing this since we were 13 and there was no reward for it then besides happiness
and although we do enjoy success, we do enjoy getting paid $500 every few months, which isn't much,
we enjoy it, but it's just about fun to us still and that will never change.