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October 28, 2009

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STEVEN ON: THE SILENCE OF JONAH MATRANGA

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« Previous Post | Main
Steven On: The Silence of Jonah Matranga

Posted on October 28, 2009 at 08:42 PM

Jonah-420

Seven years ago I moved to New York City to work for Fuse, then called MuchMusicUSA. My first assignment was to cover the CMJ Music Marathon and interview a bunch of artists, some of those you may have heard of before - Boxcar Racer, the Used, Gary Lightbody (whom you may know from his band Snow Patrol), and Jonah Matranga.

For those of you don't know, Jonah Matranga is the mastermind behind onelinedrawing, new end original, and leader singer of post hardcore and recently reunited Far. I saw Jonah perform as onelinedrawing on a bill with Planes Mistaken for Stars, From Autumn to Ashes, and Thursday. Three hard-hitting bands flanking a guy with an acoustic guitar and an R2D2 that played music. So, I was in love.

His songs were poignant, humorous, sad and happy all at the same time. And man could this dude wail. That same week, pre-interview, I was at a Jade Tree Records showcase (which was ridiculous as it had Jonah, Strike Anywhere, Denali, and the Explosion all on the same bill) and went up to the merch table to introduce myself to Jonah. But no one was at his merch table. His merch was and a note, written on a paper towel saying, "Leave what you can - gone to rock." The man sold his own merch and was on stage playing, TRUSTING people to leave their cash and take what they would like. It was the HONOR SYSTEM.

Also, way WAY before Radiohead made headlines with their "pay what you can" for the 'In Rainbows' album, Jonah would have a sliding scale for all his items, records, shirts, everything. He is a one man Fugazi.

Over the course of the past seven years, I am proud to say Jonah and I have become friends. Especially since he and I share the same feeling, we don't like people all that much, so when we meet someone you click with you hold onto them. Now every time Jonah comes to NYC we try to get dinner and then I go watch him play. If you've never seen him play live it is a mind scramble. I've seen him play to huge rooms and the smallest most intimate settings. Once I left one of those industry parties where Beyonce was scheduled to perform so I could run down to Tribeca and watch Jonah at the Tap Bar in the basement of the Knitting Factory.

The thing about Jonah's shows is they are completely silent. No one makes a sound except to applaud. It's phenomenal. Only once did I ever hear someone heckle him. He was opening for Coheed and Cambria, again just a guitar, when someone shouted "You're terrible." Jonah stopped, looked at the dude and said, "Sir, you may not have come here to see me, but no one here paid to hear you." The applause was thunderous. He commands the room - not in a hold-everyone-in-his-palm kind of way, but as friends. He'll play requests, he'll play covers, he'll tell stories in between songs, he'll interject Avril Lavigne lyrics (as he did tonight,) he'll go on rants - every show is different and the same.

I can't remember how many times I've seen Jonah perform but I have no intention of stopping. He, in my mind, belongs in the pantheon of artists whose performances are like church, or at least what I feel church "should" be. So, I would like to share Jonah with you all. Please visit his website - jonahmatranga.com - and experience what I have experienced over and over; a super cool guy with a unique perspective, and an amazing singer/songwriter. You will not be disappointed.

- Steven

PUBLICATION
Fuse Blog

AUTHOR
Steven Smith

DIRECT LINK TO ARTICLE
http://fuseblog.typepad.com