SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS LEAD VOCALIST MATT BOND FROM THE SENSATIONAL SMALL FAKERS.
SMALL FAKERS.....Well, what can we say about this incredible band, from humble beginnings to worldwide tours, what started off as a dream and an idea from two brilliant musicians developed into an act that encapsulates everything about the Small Faces, the music, the style, the attitude, and the great stage performance? Small Fakers call themselves a tribute act but in reality, these guys hold dear in the hearts of true Small Faces fans, all because of their true dedication to the Iconic original Mod supergroup.
Matt Bond, the lead singer of the band IS Steve Marriott and we don't say that lightly, he encompasses everything the man was about and you would be forgiven into believing that you were with the original judging by Matts performances as with the rest of the band. In this exclusive interview, Cris Davies talks to Matt about his early days, how the band came together, the stories along the way and what it's like to be the number one Small Faces tribute act.
Hi Matt, can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, where your love of music came from and your early musical influences.
I'm Matt Bond from just West of London and I'm the "Steve Marriott" in the only tribute band to the Small Faces in the universe: Small Fakers! My love of music has been inside me since as early as I can remember and probably before. I was singing along to records as soon as I could talk and making the "ah oh ah oh" sounds of Lene Lovich's Lucky Number before I could talk! There was always plenty of music in my house growing up. This included a Lowery organ and my Dad's acoustic guitar which were both in our lounge and which I was allowed to play on from day one. Also in our lounge was my parent's record collection in a beautiful cabinet which was full of 60s and 70s albums - some of which are still my favourite LPs. I now have that same cabinet and all the records are still inside it. My Mum and Dad's 60s singles collection I also still hold very dear to me. From Adam Faith to Beatles fan club Christmas Flexi discs to Cream LPs and many more... and of course Small Faces!
Can you tell us where and how it all began for you, how did you get your first break and what the experience was like.
My Dad played guitar when he was a teenager and had a band called Summer Rain. I don't think they ever got as far as even doing a gig, but he has been a strummer and singer ever since. I loved this idea. So it was my Dad that taught me my first few chords. As soon as I had those I was writing songs. I used to enter talent competitions at holiday camps as a kid. I'll never forget the feeling of dressing as Elvis and singing "Teddy Bear" to 700 people at the age of 7. That was pretty much it. It's all I wanted to do!
Can you tell us about the Small Fakers, obviously the band captures the Small Faces perfectly, can you tell us how the idea came to fruition, tell us about the band members and how you all input to making that perfect sound.
I had attended a few Small Faces conventions as I was a huge fan. At the 2006 convention, I was asked to do a few numbers with one of the bands by then drummer (Small Fakers Dan!) So I thought I'd go all out and pay homage to one of my musical idols by dressing very Small Faces-esq and giving it large. It went down so well that a lot of people said I drew more than a passing resemblance to the mighty pint-sized man himself! Without knowing Dan and me were thinking the same thing and we thought privately for a week or so before we shared our idea. The fact we had both thoughts of starting a Small Faces tribute band was a good enough reason to go for it! Dan had dept for a band that had a bass player who was very Ronnie Lane like so we contacted Neil and he was up for it. We needn't look far for our organ grinder cos my originals bandmate and keys man Jon was the man for the job - we'd shared a love of Small Faces from when we were at school! The sound came together quite naturally at the first few rehearsals. We were all fans and so had done our homework already. I was already throwing Marriott-esq shapes in previous bands (so I was told) but this never came consciously - just the same as anyone emulates their musical idols I guess. I just turned it up a bit!
Can you tell us about your early gigs and how people first perceived you as a group.
Our first gig was in London, February 2007, less than 6 months after the initial idea. Myself and Dan were members of an online Small Faces forum and so we knew some key players in the world of SF as fans ourselves. We put the word out and gained enough interest that we were lucky enough to have Val Weedon (worked for the Small Faces fan club) and John Hellier (curator of the SF conventions) at our first gig. We were a little nervy and rough around the edges, but we played well enough to get the backing and some lovely quotes from both of them as well as many others who attended. It was important to speak to people who had seen the band the first time around and it wasn't long before we met Stan Lane (Ronnie's brother) who we are still in contact with. We were then asked to play at an SF plaque unveiling in Carnaby Street on the site where SF/Don Arden's office was. Here we met Kenney Jones who saw us play and said afterward "Really great, absolutely spot on!" We also played at The Isle of Wight Festival... this was all still in the first year, so we must have been doing something right!
Why the Small Faces? I'd always had a love of 60s music. I have to say The Beatles have always been my favourite band of all time, then bands like SF, Kinks, Beach Boys, The Move, The Who, Stones closely followed. But it was Small Faces I felt the closest too. I guess it was for a number of reasons; the accents, the sharp look, their height - these were all things I could relate to! Then there's the music and that voice! Just listen to the energy on that first LP. Those ballsy and beautifully brash songs leapt out at me and they were also not too hard to play. Jon (our Mac) and I shared a musical taste when we were both young teenagers at school and we'd be sharing music "have you heard this?" and "listen to this one" That's when I felt they were the band for me. When I got my first CD player in about 1991 they were one of the first CDs I bought (after having lots of their singles in my Dads record collection) Then Britpop came in (which I loved) and lots of these bands were sighting SF as a major influence and bringing their name back to the forefront. I thought "yes, I was right" and with my love of 60s music and through Britpop I was away with the fairies musically! So I guess it was all naturally organic (as you'd say today) as to why I ended up doing what I'm doing.
Do you write new material? If so, can you tell us about the writing process within the band?
Do we write new material? Yes, I always have done and I know Neil (bass) does too. However, none of us have done anything with any of it for a long time. But this is about to change! We actually have a session booked in for a few weeks time to explore this further. Let's see what happens..
The Small Faces are one of the biggest Mod bands to come out of the 60’s, are you and any of the other band members modern-day Mods?
Oh the great mod debate. Old mod. New mod. Mod means "modern." Are we mods? Well, we've all been going to mod style events for years and are well into the music. 3 out the 4 of us have had or do own scooters. So I guess that says we are? Having said that I'm not one to go to a gig or a do in a suit myself - Dan does though. That's why he's "head of wardrobe"
Which Mod orientated events have you played over the years and can you tell us a couple of funny band anecdotes?
We've been lucky enough to play lots of mod events from Soho down to Brighton, I musta played them all! Countless Scooter Rallies up and down the country including The Isle Of Wight and some great mod do's in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Europe too.
After 10 years of playing together you have finally released an album, Small Fakers – Live in session, can you tell us about it.
After 10 years we finally released a Small Fakers album "Live in Session" A lot of people used to ask at gigs if we have any CDs for sale. Too be honest, we used to wonder why when you can buy the original band! After 10 years we had talked about it a few times as that question never went away. We said if we were to do it then it would have to be done properly and played live to catch the energy. We recorded and produced it completely ourselves with the studio/recording knowledge of Jon (keys) and Neil (bass). Artwork was all done in-house too so it's something we're really proud of. We recorded 17 songs and reduced it to the 13 tracks you find on the CD that best captured our live performance. Recording live in the studio enabled us to do it just like SF would have done for radio performances back in the day, just as you find on the BBC sessions album
From your early days to the epic status you have now achieved, how has the music evolved over the years?
Hopefully the music hasn't evolved as we strive to re-create the original. But from time to time we copy a live version rather than a studio version of a song. Or we add a little jam, just as SF did live. We don't quite do a 20 min You Need Loving - but I think we've managed 7/8 minutes! The set of course evolves by adding new songs or rotating some and give some a rest. Also we've tackled albums. We've played both the first LP and Odgens in their entirety. This year we've been doing A's and B sides. Next year we have another theme. Keeps it fresh and turning for us and the crowd
Could you give any good advice for aspiring musicians.
No, I'd feel a bit pretentious doing that.
Which, and I know this will be difficult are your favourite Faces/Fakers tracks to play?
My favourite tracks change, but some that never go away are Tin Soldier, Afterglow and Rollin' Over - magic!
You also play outside the band and promote music nights, can you tell us about it.
If I'm not out with Small Fakers I'll fill any gaps with a band called "The Poor Boys Good Time Band" which features Dan, me and guitarist virtuoso Jimi James Milburn. It's a 3 piece band playing songs to get a beer-fuelled pub singing and dancing till they drop! Great fun with 2 acoustic guitars and a drum kit. I also run some open mic nights and put on a night once a month in a local venue where I book the best tribute bands we know or have worked with.
Have you had any of the original band members or family visit the show, what was it like.
We've been fortunate enough to meet lots of the bands family members as well as two Small Faces themselves. Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston have both been to our gigs and we've played with them both too - which for a tribute band is the absolute icing on the cake! We keep in touch with them and earlier this year we did a very special gig with Kenney at 229, London when Glen Matlock also got up for a song!
Where can our readers find out more about Small Fakers?
For more info on Small Fakers you can go to the website www.smallfakers.co.uk or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... and hopefully at a venue near you soon! Stay cool, Matt