RTJ : Playing with Charlie Daniels was wonderful, of course musically but also you will never find a more genuine individual. I really cant say enough about him and his organization.
: Playing with Charlie Daniels was wonderful, of course musically but also
you will never find
a more genuine individual. I really cant say enough about him and his organization.
RTJ : When you were a guitar player in the Charlie Daniels Band, were you musically 'free' or were you obliged to respect some rules and stay at your own place ?
Mark Matejka : Yes I felt musically free, Charlie encouraged liberties from his musicians but of course it was just musically understood when to improvise and when signature parts were respected. It really was not discussed to often it just fell into place naturally.
What do you and did you prefer ?
To be free to play your own style or to have a particular and special rule to play?
: Well I always feel free when I play, if Im improvising or creating or respectfully
a melody or part that is signature to a tune. Its all music and I enjoy it all.
RTJ : When you learned that Hughie had left the band, did you think and imagine you could replace him ?
: Actually no, when he left I was still playing in my own band Hot Apple Pie.
It wasn't till sometime later that I was asked to audition for Skynyrd. And I could not be happier.
How were your first days in the band ?
Did the other musicians know you, did you have to play with them before ?
Which were the songs you played in front of them?
Mark Matejka : Johnny was the only one I really knew and I felt very comfortable playing with everyone pretty much immediately. Of course its a little nerve racking playing with such a legendary band but the guys made me feel very comfortable. I just tried to play the best I could and hoped they liked me. If Im not mistaken Workin for MCA was the first song I played with them.
RTJ : Did the group try other guitar players before you play with them?
Mark Matejka : No I think I was fortunately the 1st candidate.
RTJ : Who decides in the band ? Gary does I guess
: I would say everyone has input and respectful opinions but yes I would say
Gary has the final say on issues. I would say most issues simply are decided
by what's best for the group and the fans.
RTJ : So when the decision was taken and you were in the band, what did you do ?
I guess you had to learn all the songs and rehearse them. Did you play the Ed King parts ?
: Yes mostly Ed Kings and Steve Gaines parts are my responsibility.
RTJ : We could watch the 2006 concerts videos. Did you feel comfortable for the first show or did you need some time to find your own place in the band ?
Mark Matejka : For the most part I felt like I fitted in pretty smoothly but of course I feel like every show helps you discover your place. Its obviously a growing thing and I feel much tighter in the group now then ever.
Did you get time enough to rehearse special double lead solos with Rickey
(Workin' for MCA,
That Smell ) or did you only played them together in the first shows ?
Mark Matejka : No we definitely rehearsed them before the shows.
RTJ : With Skynyrd, you mainly play on a Fender Stratocaster. Do you enjoy to play with different guitars, like, for instance, on a Gibson LesPaul or on a PRS ?
: Yes I actually am playing a PRS some of the time this year, but the strat
the parts Im responsible for.
RTJ : Do you realise that you play with Lynyrd Skynyrd ? What does it emotionally mean to you?
: Yes its a dream come true, I grew up listening and playing Skynyrd music
so its unbelievable
to actually be in the band. Sometimes I have to stop and look at the crowd and the stage and remind myself where Im standing.
Who are the musicians you feel more comfortable to play with,
and who do you feel the closest in the band ?
: I would simply have to say everyone.
Every musician on the stage is amazing in they're own right.
RTJ : We have heard, for a long time, that the oldest musicians in the band are not always good-tempered or very kind with the youngest one. I sure understand that you won't tell us that they are totally bad or malicious, but can you honestly tell us how are these Southern Rock legends in everyday's life ?
: I can honestly say that everyone in the band are wonderful people in every
but are also perfectionists things have got to be right. Everyone gets along great though.
In Europe, and obviously in France, we think that Lynyrd Skynyrd is very close
to the rebel flag
(Sweet Home Alabama!). To you feel the same about this flag, or are you not so close to the Southern
values and way of life ?
Mark Matejka : I grew up in Texas, it doesn't get much more southern than that.
We have recently written a story about Lynyrd Skynyrd longevity, and we talked
about the choices and orientations Gary gave to the band. We wrote that Lynyrd
Skynyrd had a kind of new life since 2005 and the SuperBowl show in Jacksonville.
It's nice to hear the young people sing thirty years old songs, don't you
Mark Matejka : Yes Skynyrds music is truly timeless. That's why you see kids singing all the lyrics of tunes that were recorded years before they were born. Its actually hard to go one day (at least in America) with out hearing a song or seeing a logo or reference to something Skynyrd.
RTJ : Vicious Cycle has been issued more than three years ago now. We have heard that you were on your way to create a new album, I think you have heard about that, haven't you?
Mark Matejka : Yes that's in the works right now.
RTJ : Skynyrd addicts are die-hard fans but they ask for good songs and material. Some people would like that the band goes back in the seventies style and sound (I Know A Little, You Got That Right ) and other fans think that the musical evolution is logical and inevitable. What do you think about that ?
: I think its a combination of both. Respectfully keeping the signature Skynyrd
with fresh new ideas.
You play now for more a year with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Which are your favourite
songs you enjoy
to play live on stage ?
Mark Matejka : That's a tough one because all the songs are great, but I love playing I Know a Little, MCA, That Smell, and of course Sweet Home Alabama.
RTJ : When you don't play on your guitar, what are your favourite passions?
: I am kind of a workaholic honestly I spend most of my time with my hands
on my guitar.
If Im not on the road I do allot of studio work in Nashville Tn (my home) and even live playing around town. You can also catch me perform at al lot of guitar clinics.
RTJ : I can see that you are very busy in America and with the musical market in the USA. What do you think about the European musical scene, and do you plan to come back and play here in Europe ?
Mark Matejka : I've toured pretty extensively in and around Europe in my career. I hope we visit soon but right now there are unfortunately no official plans to do that. But yes I admire the European music scene one of my favorite gigs I've ever played in my life was a club in Amsterdam called the Milkweg.
RTJ : A last and traditional question on Road To Jacksonville, to better know you: if you have to spend and finish your life on a desert island, what would be the 5 albums you take with you?
: Honestly I hate to cop out on you but I've reached a point where I compile
music from lots of cd's on to smaller ones and I will say that I love all
styles of music. If I picked 5 cd's I can tell you there would be some rock,
jazz, bluegrass, folk, blues, and country. There are only 2 kinds of music,
good and bad.
RTJ : Best regards and Keep on Rockin' with Lynyrd Skynyrd!
send me a hard copy of the magazine interview