INTERVIEW WITH MATT FALLON OF FALLON (EX-SKID ROW AND ANTHRAX)
Date: January 23, 2016
PRIOR TO SEBASTIAN BACH FRONTING SKID ROW, THE GROUP HAD A SINGER BY THE NAME OF MATT FALLON WHOSE RESUME WAS ALREADY IMPRESSIVE SINCE HE HAD FRONTED ANTHRAX JUST PRIOR TO THE GROUP RELEASING ITS 1985 ALBUM ‘AMONG THE LIVING.’ MATT FALLON WENT ON TO FRONT THE BAND FALLON, WHICH RECENTLY RELEASED AN ALBUM OF LONG LOST TRACKS THROUGH FNA RECORDS A FEW MONTHS AGO. IN A VERY RARE INTERVIEW, MATT FALLON OPENS UP ABOUT HIS TIME IN SKID ROW AND ANTHRAX AS WELL AS FALLON.
Sleaze Roxx: What prompted Fallon to release an album at this juncture and how did Fallon’s relationship with FnA Records come about?
Matt Fallon: FnA came across a compilation CD that we were on back in the day and reached out to me about the possibility of working with them to release additional material.
Sleaze Roxx: Fallon’s self-titled album consists of the group’s original four song EP, six additional studio tracks and two demos [see Sleaze Roxx’s review of the ‘Fallon’ album]. What are your memories from recording and shopping around the four song EP back in the day?
Matt Fallon: Well, it was a long time ago and I remember that the songs were recorded at different studios, but at this point it’s hard to really remember any details. Shopping the EP was difficult, and since this was pre-internet, it was much harder to get your music to the right people.
Sleaze Roxx: When were the six additional studio tracks recorded and why have they only surfaced now?
Matt Fallon: The other tracks were recorded before the four song EP, but we weren’t that happy with the overall sound quality and decided not to include them on the EP. Had the band stayed together longer, we may have re-recorded some of them for a full length release, but others probably wouldn’t have made the cut. As far as why they’ve only surfaced now, most of the original masters weren’t available so we pulled together whatever we could find for the CD. We actually would have preferred to release a shorter CD with our strongest material, but FnA asked us to include as much content as we could, so we basically released everything we could find — good, bad or indifferent!
Sleaze Roxx: The new album also features two demo songs. Why did Fallon decide to include these two demos on the release?
Matt Fallon: We included the demos because “Tears” was a song we really wanted on the CD, but the demo version was all we could find. “Easy Come Easy Go” was included mostly as a bonus track demo since we had it available.
Sleaze Roxx: A lot of people know you for your time in Skid Row but you were the lead singer for Anthrax prior to joining Skid Row. How did you end up joining Anthrax and how was your time in the band?
Matt Fallon: Back in the early ’80s, Metallica were doing some promo appearances prior to the release of their first album ‘Metal Up Your Ass’ [Kill ‘Em All]. At the time, I was playing with Dave Sabo in a cover band called Steel Fortune and we had a strong local following so we were asked to open for Metallica at their last show. Anthrax was also on the bill and that’s where I first met the band. Scott Ian approached me a while after that during one of our shows at L’Amour’s Brooklyn and asked if I’d be interested in joining them. The band needed to get back in the studio quickly to record a follow up to ‘Fistful Of Metal’ and wanted to replace their current singer. The whole thrash metal thing was new to me at the time so I wasn’t really sure at first, but after playing in cover bands for several years, the idea of being able to record an album sounded pretty cool, so I figured what the hell and went for a tryout. After jamming with the band and getting the thumbs up, Scott gave me a cassette with some raw tracks they had been working on and asked me to write lyrics, so that’s exactly what I did.
Sleaze Roxx: You left Anthrax prior to the thrash metal group finishing its second record ‘Spreading The Disease.’ Why did you leave Anthrax at that time?
Matt Fallon: Once we had enough material ready, we went directly into the studio to lay down the tracks, and that’s where I got to know the band’s producer Jon Zazula. Jon seemed to have a lot of control over the band and was involved in every decision, even those involving songwriting. This was a different situation than I was used to, but I was a cocky kid so maybe I rubbed someone the wrong way. Who knows? Anyway, it didn’t work out and we parted ways before finishing the album. However, one big mistake I made was not getting copyrights for the songs I wrote because they wound up using a lot of my lyrics and I never received any credit. In fact, the album simply said “All songs written by Anthrax” instead of listing the individual writing credits that you would usually see. That was tough to take, especially when you turn on the radio and have to hear someone else singing the words to songs you wrote… and the fact that no one but myself and Anthrax knows the truth… but I guess you live and learn.
Sleaze Roxx: You then joined Skid Row. How did you end up joining Skid Row and how was the band dynamics at that time?
Matt Fallon: After I left Anthrax, I took some time off from music, but then one day I got a call from Dave [Sabo] about putting another band together. Dave had been working with an A&R guy at a major label, and this guy actually gave Dave my name as a potential front man… which was kind of funny since we already knew each other and had played together in Steel Fortune for years. The short version of the story is that Dave met a bass player named Jimmy Southworth [Rachel Bolan] at a music store and they began talking, so he gave him some tapes of stuff we had been working on and invited him to jam with us. Rachel was playing in another band with Scotti Hill at the time so he didn’t want to commit, but we eventually began working together more frequently. Dave had known Rob Affuso through Bon Jovi, and Rob came in for an audition, then not long after that Rachel brought Scotti along to a session and Skid Row was born.
Sleaze Roxx: Skid Row ended up opening for Bon Jovi during that group’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ tour. What were the highlights for you from that experience?
Matt Fallon: Dave basically grew up just down the street from Jon [Bon Jovi] in Sayreville, New Jersey [USA] and they had been friends for many years. Jon would come to see us from time to time and kept in touch with Dave to see how our band was progressing, and at one point Dave played him some tapes and Jon was immediately interested. At first, he came to a few of our rehearsals and gave us pointers and tips on how we could improve, and then later, he let us record at his studio. He also told us that Cinderella had some booking conflicts so he was looking for an opening act for a few dates on his tour, and that if the band was tight enough by December, he might be able to give us the spot. We kept rehearsing, and then Jon called us from Germany just before the tour kicked off to tell us we were definitely in. Needless to say, we were really excited to have the opportunity to open for a major act on the big stage. Jon was even able to get our demo played on local radio before the shows so that people would have a chance to hear some of our material ahead of time. The performances went over extremely well and the crowd seemed to really get into it, which was great considering we were a relatively unknown act at the time.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you end up leaving Skid Row?
Matt Fallon: Let’s just say personal differences. It’s a lot like a marriage, when you’re with the same people all the time, you don’t always see eye to eye on every issue and unfortunately it can get ugly sometimes.
Sleaze Roxx: While you were in Skid Row, Anthrax released their album ‘Among The Living’ which is arguably seen as the band’s breakthrough record. When you look at Anthrax’s music career, do you have any regrets and/or think “that could have been me.”
Matt Fallon: Not really. Mostly because in that situation, I was just a newcomer to the band and I really didn’t have a chance to get to know the guys, so I felt more like a hired gun than an actual band member. Also, I was bitter about the way everything went down, so I didn’t really follow them after I left.
Sleaze Roxx: A little more than a year after you left Skid Row, the group released its self-titled album, which was an instant success. Do you have any regrets in that regard and/or think “that could have been me.”
Matt Fallon: In that case, I’d have to say I was a bit jealous when I heard the album for the first time. I thought the tracks sounded great overall and that Sebastian [Bach] did an excellent job with the vocals. I mean, I guess I can’t really blame the guy for stepping in when he did. He was in the right place at the right time and the rest is history. To be honest though, I was a bit amused when I first saw that “Youth Gone Wild” tattoo on his forearm, considering we were playing that song and several others live long before he ever heard of Skid Row.
Sleaze Roxx: Was it difficult to pursue Fallon while you were seeing Anthrax and Skid Row having “made it” and if so, how did you cope with it?
Matt Fallon: Well for starters, I didn’t actually pursue Fallon. After I left Skid Row, I remember getting several calls from bands that wanted me to jam with them, but I really wasn’t in any rush to get back into it. Over time, I met some cool guys that I liked hanging out with who also happened to be musicians, and Fallon was really just the end result. In fact, I never wanted to use the name Fallon, but the band talked me into it because they thought my name recognition might help when shopping the material… which I suppose made sense given my resume. I’m sure everyone in the band had different priorities, but at that point I was trying not to take things too seriously. For me, it was more just hanging out, jamming and having fun.
Sleaze Roxx: Which material was easier for you to sing and which did you prefer? Anthrax or Skid Row? And why?
Matt Fallon: The Anthrax songs were probably easier given the style of the music, but I’d have to say I preferred the Skid Row songs because I had more familiarity with the material. I had limited exposure to hardcore thrash metal at the time.
Sleaze Roxx: Eventually, Fallon called it quits. What were the reasons for the break up of the band?
Matt Fallon: We were shopping a deal in the early ’90s, and right around that time, the Nirvana album broke and alternative became the huge new trend in music, so we had to face facts that it might be time to move on. Our drummer Jon Nicholson was the first to leave the band to do something in the alternative genre, and we struggled to find a replacement. After that, we never really got a solid lineup again and the band eventually parted ways.
Sleaze Roxx: What have you been up to since Fallon’s break up?
Matt Fallon: I finished college, got my bachelors in business and I’ve been doing very well. I definitely do miss playing out though from time to time, especially when I see other live acts and I think “Damn! I want to get up there and tear this place up right now!”
Sleaze Roxx: Does Fallon have any plans aside from the release of the one album through FnA Records and if so, what are they?
Matt Fallon: Not really. We’re just hoping that people like the CD, and if it does well, maybe we’ll make some plans for a reunion tour at that point [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your three all-time favourite albums and why?
Matt Fallon: It’s going to be tough to get it down to just three… Let’s see, any early [Judas] Priest or [Iron] Maiden has to be right up there. I remember going to see them every time they toured together and they always kicked ass. ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’ is high on my list because [Rob] Halford’s vocals are obviously so over the top amazing. He’s definitely my favorite overall metal singer because of his incredible power and ridiculous range. ‘Number Of The Beast’ would have to be up there as well since Iron Maiden was one of my favorite bands to cover. The [Bruce] Dickinson stuff is all great, but I don’t want to leave out the earlier albums with [Paul] Di’Anno because those tracks were all so heavy. Any early [Black] Sabbath of course — “War Pigs” is still one of my favorite songs, but the Dio stuff was excellent too. I also really love Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ The first time I heard “Welcome To The Jungle” — I remember thinking “Holy crap! That was good. These guys are going to be huge.” Slash’s riffs and Axl’s distinctive vocal style just blew me away. I could go on and on with AC/DC — pre-Brian Johnson as I prefer the Bon Scott material — and [Led] Zeppelin of course, but you only wanted three…
You can purchase Fallon’s self-titled album via FnA Records.