Matt Skiba is a busy man. While also fronting his beloved, long standing Alkaline Trio, he finds time for a host of projects, from the heavier (the HELL) to the lighter, more experimental (Heavens). And that’s not to mention his recent addition, in Tom Delonge’s place, as the guitar/singer of Blink-182 and his recent, well received debut shows with the band at this past MusInk festival. As if that wasn’t enough, he’ll be releasing the second record of Matt Skiba and the Sekrets June 2nd (with members of AFI and My Chemical Romance). We spoke with Matt about the upcoming record and his future plans for the band.
Can you tell me how Sekrets came about?
Matt: Well, this is the second record that Sekrets have done with (record label) Superball. And initially it was just something that came about from kind of a scrap heap of ideas and demos that I had that never really fit with Alkaline Trio, or anything else I was doing. And there were some guys I really wanted to work with, like Hunter from AFI and Jarrod Alexander, who’s an amazing drummer and was playing drums in My Chemical Romance until recently and they’re both really good friends of mine. So I took these ideas and demos and sent them to them and from there we created the Sekrets and started making a record and had a great time doing it.
And how was this recording experience different from the first record?
Matt: Well, the first time around we had the songs and the idea to tour and everything, but it didn’t really have its own identity yet and we weren’t really sure how to approach it. But with this new record, we’ve had a far more concise idea of what we wanted. And I wanted to work with a producer who was unfamiliar with Alkaline Trio, I didn’t want it to sound like Alkaline Trio. On the last Sekrets record that wasn’t a concern, I just wanted to make a rock record.
Who was the producer on this one?
Matt: Rob Schnapf produced the record. He did a lot of Elliot Smith’s stuff and actually played in Elliot’s band. And he ended up playing lead guitar on this album and he had a bunch of really fun, unique gear and a great studio with a really cool vibe. So I think all these different variables lent to the way the record sounds. I think that we’ve come out with something this time around that sounds more like it’s own thing, like the Sekrets now have a sound.
There’s definitely a more pronounced Cure influence in the sound, including the glam rock aspect of the cover photo. I know The Cure is an influence on a lot of the stuff you write, but was that a conscious direction for this particular record?
Matt: Only in that we wanted to use a lot of acoustic guitar and in The Cure, Robert Smith is often playing an acoustic guitar. So to have that rhythmic, pronounced acoustic guitar sound within a rock setting, yeah, The Cure was a huge influence. David Bowie was a huge influence as well and not necessarily style wise, but sonically. We went back and listened to a lot the old Bowie stuff and drew a lot of the sounds, the keyboard sounds and guitar sounds, from those old Bowie recordings and Brian Eno and stuff like that. And I don’t think the record sounds like any of those artists, but those were things we listened to in order to get tones and a certain feel.
Kuts feels and sounds very much like a product of southern California to me. I know you still have Chicago blood flowing through your veins, but is your writing greatly influenced by your surroundings or do these songs come from a more internal place?
Matt: Well, I think no matter who it is, you’re always going to be influenced by your surroundings, whether that’s conscious or not. And whatever city you’re in will have an effect on the way the record sounds, in many different kinds of ways. It wasn’t intentional but we did make the record in southern California. And we made it on the east side, away from Hollywood and the strip and the big studios. So it has that sound, but not in the conventional sense. It has more of an indie sound than the polished Capitol Records big rock sound.
You’re obviously best known for Alkaline Trio, and this Blink thing has been getting a lot of attention. You’ve also got other projects like the HELL. What’s your vision for Sekrets? Is it a hobby project or are you hoping to bring it further than some of your other side projects in the past?
Matt: It’s hard to say. A lot has happened since we recorded this record, primarily the Blink thing. So it’s something that I would very much like to tour on and will eventually. Alkaline Trio has a couple months of shows booked in the U.S. and over in the U.K. with NOFX. So I’ll be busy with that for a while. What’s going to happen with Blink is yet to be seen. We’ve discussed writing and recording together but nothing’s ironclad. And the HELL for me is really the hobby project. As much as Atom (Willard from Against Me) would cringe in hearing me say that. But I consider Sekrets to be more than just a hobby. And when the time is right I do want to dedicate as much time and effort as possible to getting out on the road and playing for people.
You’re a very prolific writer. And to those who aren’t in your inner circle, it seems as if it comes easy, as if songs just pour out of you on a consistent basis. Do you have to work at it in that regard at all these days, or do you find you’re having a hard time keeping up with the ideas.
Matt: Actually, with risk of sounding cocky, it comes pretty easily. I really love what I do. Playing music as a career, again with risk of sounding cliche, it’s a dream come true because I’m getting paid to do something that I would do anyway. If I worked at FedEx, I would still get off work and go to band practice and book shows. It’s just in my DNA. And I have a good barometer, after so many years, to know what’s good and what’s not. If I’m working on something and it starts to take too long, I know it’s probably not right. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing how to not frustrate myself. And from that it makes the whole songwriting process quite a bit easier. And I just feel really blessed that playing music and songwriting is something that comes fairly easily to me.
KUTS is due out June 1st in Europe and June 2nd in the U.S.A and is available for pre-order on iTunes. Until then keep up with the band online at :