Pumpin out music like the Hounds of Hell are on their ass with a deadline to meet, playing with their eyes wide open and our ears peeled back, making a difference, to hell with the difference SSP is the Difference: PURE HOT ROD ROCK N ROLL, the kind that will make your ears bleed, the kind that will make ya stand up and shout, throw a fist in the air and thank God you're an American!
Snake Skin Prison Interview w/ Guitarist and Vocalist Matt Ballengee
Scott - Hi Matt, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com. Give our readers a short but descriptive label for your style of music.
Matt - Snake Skin Prison (SSP) is very unique in my mind, with influences from genres ranging from Southern Rock to Heavy Metal, I truly feel like we fall in a class of our own. If I had to pick, I would say "Southern Metal".
Scott - How did you come up with the name Snake Skin Prison... What is a Snake Skin Prison?
Matt - We get asked this question all the time. The origination of the name: "Snake Skin" came out of researching other bands, and seeing a constant theme of 'Snake Skin'...the final part: "Prison" fell outta the sky...I like to say a true gift from the Metal Gods. \m/
Scott - What's going on in your music world these days? Any New news we should know about?
Matt - We are currently in the studio, recording another 3 song EP, potentially reworking a song from our debut album "Get Bit!!" We hope to release this ASAP!!
Scott - Introduce the band (who's who) and where y'awl's stomp'n ground is?
Matt - Keith (bass) is from San Marcos Texas...Marc (drums) is from San AntonioTx, and I myself (guitar/vox) am from WV.
Scott - I was checking out your tune "Come and Take It" and got hooked. What was the inspiration behind this muse.
Matt - We had this song/riff laying around and couldn't let it go! We actually hooked up with Matt Noveskey (Blue October) and John Moyer (Distrubed/Adrenaline Mob) and worked this out in the studio. It's rec'ing radio play across TX and is definitely a crowd favorite.
Scott - Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? If so, could you name some venues?
Matt - We play throughout the state of Texas...Red eyed Fly & Dirty Dog (ATX) The Deadhorse (San Angelo) Blue Maxx (Midland) 19th Hole Bar and Grill (Spring TX) and many many more.
Scott - So please tell us of any new musical project that you are currently working on?
Matt - We're working on a new 3 song EP!!
Scott - What is the name of your latest album and tell us how that album came about.
Matt - We released "Blood in the Water" this time last year. It's definitely our heaviest release to date. We are always writing and thinking about our future trying to fuel the fire for SSP moving forward.
Scott - How do you come up with your songs? Is it one song writer or more of a collaboration?
Matt - Definitely a collaboration. Typically I'll come up with a riff and a rough 'structure' of the music. Then we'll all three get together and jam it out and change it as needed. I typically write all the lyrics.
Scott - How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?
Matt - I would say almost always. We may have 5-8 songs that never saw the light of day...after the first step of the process.
Scott - I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?
Matt - LOL ... I typically have very vivid dreams. The song "Lost in the Middle" was actually about a dream I had. You can get a more in depth description here: Booze for Thought: Lost in the Middle Without You Again...
Scott - Are you a schooled guitar player or a self-taught guitar player?
Matt - I pretty much taught myself ... or should say "was taught" by Metallica, Megadeth, Ozzy...etc. because that was the music I learned on my own. Not until a couple years ago did I actually enroll in guitar lessons...and I will say that definitely helped tie up some 'loose ends' in my playing and theory.
Scott - So, what type of guitars do you play and why?
Matt - I love my Gibson Flying V. I also play a Ephiphone Explorer and an Ephiphone double neck. I have about 12 guitars total, but those are my favorites. As for 'why' ?? I love their 'action' and their thick sound!!
Scott - What type of amps do you use? Do you use different amps for the studio vs live shows. If so, why?
Matt - I play a Peavey Triple X live as well as in the studio. It's not a widely used amp (or wasn't), so once we dialed in the settings it was truly a unique sound of our own. I've used several amps (Orange, Marshall, Randall) in the studio, but always revolve around the Triple X.
Scott - Do you have any endorsement with instrument and gear companies?
Matt - We have 'deals' with Gibson, Guitar Center, InTune Guitar Picks, Dirtbag Clothing/Music, Strait Music (ATX) as well as a lot of local/regional support.
Scott - How did you first get into the music business?
Matt - I started playing live in the early 2000's and moved to Austin in Oct of 2006. SSP was formed summer of 07, and we have been charging on every since.
Scott - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Matt - I personally love Southern Rock and Hard Rock/Metal. My favorite band would be Metallica, but I also draw from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Motley Crue, GnR, Zakk Wylde/BLS.
Scott - How has your guitar playing evolved over the years?
Matt - I have never claimed to be the best guitar player around. Actually, I wasn't originally supposed to be the 'lead' guitar player in SSP...we never found a guy that fit, so stuck with the 3 piece. It was a sink or swim situation. I had a couple licks, but nothing special. I realized that in order to move the band forward, we also had to move ourselves forward as musicians and professionals. I started to watch videos, trying to learn harder material, and through lots of practice and plenty of alcohol I have progressed to a musician I'm proud to be. Again, I'll never claim to being the best guitar player around...or the best vocalist around...but if you have a category for best front man/party lead...I'd throw my hat in the ring in a heart beat!!
Scott - What are you listening to these days?
Matt - BLS is my favorite band currently. I dig on the new Skynyrd (God & Guns and Last of a Dying Breed). I like the new Godsmack album, that's what I typically listen to in the gym in conjunction with BLS. Just a quick look at my iTunes showed: Hell Yeah, The Sword, Jackyl, The Kentucky Headhunters and Kevin Fowler...haha again, I got quite the mix!!!
Scott - Do you have a dream car?
Matt - I'm a Jeep Wrangler fan. I have had one for the last several years but was in an accident (not my fault!!) and it was totaled. It's name was "Django". I since got a Grand Jeep Cherokee that I really like, but will probably go back to a Wrangler when the time is right. I don't jack em up too high, but like a little lift added, nice 'chunky' off road tires, a bad ass grill/brush guard...and black...all black...
Scott - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
Matt - Faith, Family, Friends, Forever!! I like to work hard and play hard. I'm very thankful for my many blessings and the people that have supported Snake Skin Prison along this wild and amazing ride!! I look forward to continuing bringing our music to the masses!!
Scott - I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
Matt - I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and look forward to spreading the word about Guitarz Forever!!