Matt Backer - The Impulse Man
Matt Backer - Is That All?
Matt Backer was born in Louisiana USA, in a log cabin he helped build. His parents were members of the jet set, living in Mexico, Venezuala, Belgium , The Carribean and England. They lost him in transit at Miami airport and he was raised by friendly groundstaff.
Matt's university studies in both the US and UK prepared him for the life of an urban guerilla, unfortunately he couldn't spell that and he became a guitarist instead.
Matt has worked live and in the studio with a wide range of artists including Matthew Sweet, Cher, Edward Ball, David Arnold, Shirley Bassey, Sinead O'Connor, ABC, Joe Cocker, Mica Paris, Stiff Little Fingers, Swing Out Sister, Aimee Mann, The Beautiful South, Steve Earle, Marcella Detroit, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Julian Lennon, Mindy McReady, Elton John, Emmylou Harris, Alice Cooper, Virginia, David McAlmont, Donny Osmond and more recently S Club 7 and Hearsay.
The Impulse Man is Matt's new album, 11 rocking tunes, with lots of guitar and vocals!
MOJO review for The Impulse Man JULY 2004
As an in-demand session guitarist of 20 odd years (for everyone from Steve Earle to Shirley Bassey), Backer could have expected to have long lost touch with whatever made him want to pick up a guitar in the first place. Yet on his second solo offering his feverish love of all things whammy and twangy persists among the chunkiest riffs and licks you wish you'd learned to play, wrapped around songs replete with fat choruses and wry humour.
More, he's lost much of the mid-life angst that characterised 2002's 'Is That All' and instead sings joyously about falling in love with himself again. A step closer to his goal - to make the best album of 1975 - it's proof that the precious intricacies of retro guitar - driven pop should not be left in the hands of amateurs and children.
THE TIMES MAGAZINE SAT 28TH SEPTEMBER 2002
SOMEONE'S GOT TO DO IT.....
The Session Guitarist Matt Backer, in his thirties is a session guitarist or a 'guitar for hire'. He's from New Orleans and now lives in London with his wife and two children.
Aren't you always the new boy, never the musician who enjoys the shared experience, intimacy, in-jokes, and lets face it, fame and money, of members of a succesful band?
Possibly, but I'm used to it. I used to be a supply teacher. I like the challenge of novelty. And, certainly in London, there's a club feel among musicians so you get the in-jokes plus the shared feeling of being embattled, being in a dying profession that's being replaced by computers. I don't mind not being a famous guitarist in a famous band - I'd rather be a rich guitarist behind the scenes. I know a lot of celebrities and it's not a lot of fun. I get a lot of the perks and none of the problems. I can wander round Dublin while Robbie Williams has to stay imprisoned in his hotel.
Were you working with him?
I often work with ABC who you might remember from the Eighties. We did a stadium tour opening for Robbie Williams. There were 40,000 people going mad, singing along to the songs.
What of the lack of creativity that surely must bother you?
I get hired for now for what I can bring. People know I can contribute a certain thing to a project. I might not write the songs, but I do for my solo work - I've recently recorded my eagerly un-awaited solo album 'Is That All?'.
Who else do you play for?
The in-house band for The Brian Conley Show and a television series with Harry Hill. And I'm - literally - going to Hell, in Norway with Sarah Jane Morris.
Why not the-relatively-secure life of one band?
The original plan was to have a band and a girl in every port, but I met a girl and now I've got a band in every port!. No. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid, play in a band. I had one at school but we all went off in various directions. I went to Berkley College in Boston. When I was at Warwick University I played in bands and all over The Midlands. I've got eclectic tastes and musical abilities so it's probably better I'm not stuck in one band. A colleague was once talking to George Harrison who told him he was lucky to play with lots of different people in different styles. My colleague was gobsmacked - Harrison implied he felt stifled and wanted to branch out!
You've worked with a lot of comedians. Has that been fun?
Yes. On Harry Hill's new show we all had to wear bald wigs and glasses and dress up like Harry.
That wasn't comprimising your artistic integrity, indeed dignity?
No we saw the funny side and that's why they hired us. And at the end-of-series party I ended up dancing with Christine Hamilton. The great thing is meeting so many different people and your preconceptions go out the window. Neil Hamilton is very dry, sharp, articulate and well-read.
From 'What's On In London', JAN 16th 2002
The 12 Bar Club London - Jan 18
Matt Backer is one of those artists that you'll probably never have heard *of*, but will have certainly heard. For the past 20 odd years he has plied his trade as a guitar-for-hire all over the world, touring and recording with luminaries ranging from Steve Earle to Cher via Joe Cocker and Donny Osmond (!). His playing and compositions have graced Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Four Weddings & A Funeral soundtrack and recent ads for Grolsch beer.
So it was high time he released a solo album. Is That All? (out now on Warmfuzz) is an excellent debut collection: quirky, 60s-inflected pop-rock, replete with harder, bluesy edges. As a live performer Backer is a personable vocalist and effortlessly skilful axeman. You never know, you might even bump into one of his regular employers, Sarah-Jane Morris or Julian Lennon.
From 'MOJO' FEB 2002
Matt Backer 'IS THAT ALL?'
The Axe For Hire Has His Own Album To Do.
Having had his resourceful six string grace the work of everyone from Sinead O'Connor and Matthew Sweet to Steve Earle and Shirley Bassey, Backer steps centre-stage with a janglesome rock record full of wise, chunky guitar and the sort of songs that can only come with experience and a massive record collection. The lyrics reflect a certain mid-life ennui, if not panic (Golden Boy, Is That All?, Landlocked all drip with disappointment and will ring bells with forty-somethings everywhere), but the vitality and sheer depth of Backer's facility provide the neccesary uplift.
Shame he didn't believe in his singing enough to really let rip, but there are a couple of songs here (the defiant, tremendous Fountain Of Youth and classic Americano-pop of Everything Is Not Enough) that in the throat of a grizzled, pissed-off old legend would be magnificent.
From 'Vintage Guitar Magazine' 2008
Matt Backer 'The Impulse Man'
Backer is New Orleans native who lives in London and has sung and played guitar with the likes of Elton John, Sinead O'Connor, and Alice Cooper. His new solo record assembles an amazing array of influences and proves him to be an agile guitarist and a songwriter of note.
His cleverness is obvious from the first cut, 'Cold War'. With a lyric that longingly looks back in time, with fat chords, churning pop style, and a host of lyrical and musical cultural references. While other cuts show a strong Beatles influence, this one sounds straight out of their catalog. Backer's mastery of hooks makes all 11 cuts here instantly hummable.
'Falling In Love With Myself' is exactly what the title says. A love song to him. Not boastful, the track is just funny and the music is power-pop heaven with a slinky Fender solo in the middle, a nasty rock solo on the fade, and a melody and hook that you won't be able to get out of your head. All of those things are evident in Backer's music. The lovely changes, melodic guitar solo, and great lyrics drive songs like 'Right Girl, Wrong Time'.
When called for Backer also can turn it up and get a bit grungy, like on the garage rock of 'I'. There's enough rocking electric guitar there to drive a full album by most of today's rock bands. Throughout this record, Backer proves as agile a writer as he is singer and player.