Matt Schofield: “Apparently everybody likes all the stuff that I hate!”

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Matt Schofield: “Apparently everybody likes all the stuff that I hate!”

matt schofield
Words by Peter Hodgson

Matt Schofield chats with us about returning to Australia, the world of content creation, and most importantly, the setup behind the virtuoso

This writer has lost track of the amount of times people have slid into his DMs with videos of Matt Schofield along with a comment along the lines of, ‘Holy crap! Have you seen this guy?’

Schofield is one of those players who seem to have a near supernatural connection with their instrument – that indefinable thing where it feels like the guitar and its player are one and the same. And although he’s visited Australia before, his forthcoming tour will be the first proper opportunity for a wider audience to experience his particular brand of rocked-up blues.

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“Yes, I’m visiting properly this time,” Schofield says over an afternoon Zoom call. “We came for one gig and that was the extent of my Australian touring experience so far. We came all the way for one gig! But now we’ll actually get to spend some time and hit some spots this time. So I’m very happy about that.”

It’ll be a chance for all of us to see the Manchester native with his trio for real, how it’s meant to be, instead of on YouTube. “I’m not a content creator,” he says. “And although there are all these videos online, I don’t even do it really. It’s become its own monster with YouTube and Instagram clips, because for years I’ve been like, ‘I hate it. I don’t don’t want you to film me,’ and now it’s taken on a life of its own and I’ve just gone, ‘Okay.’

“It’s been a weird one navigating the way the music industry’s gone for somebody like me, you know? So I’m a very reluctant content creator: I just play gigs and people film them.”


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Schofield acknowledges that the realisation you’re being filmed can alter the energy of a performance. “I’ve had many rants about this: it does change the gig, you know? As soon as you start recording or filming a gig, you’re actually changing how it works. But at this point I’ve kind of gone full circle with it and it’s like, apparently everybody likes all the stuff that I hate! But you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

While Schofield’s playing is in the spirit of the blues greats, he sounds like nobody but himself, as he turns in fiery jazz lines interspersed among heartfelt blues-rock phrasing.

“It’s informed by heroes, isn’t it? When I was coming of age in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it was a Strat world, you know? And Eric Clapton was doing the blues nights at the Royal Albert Hall, so we had Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, and Eric all playing Strats. And of course I was inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan too. So I was very much informed by the late ’80s blues-boom Strat era. And I shied away from it for a bit because when you’re a teenager, everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you just wanna be Stevie Ray?’ Well, I love Stevie, but no, I don’t wanna be Stevie.”

But rather than pick up a different guitar just for the sake of it, Schofield persevered with the Strat because that was the guitar style he felt the most comfortable on. “ I love Gibson ES-335s – BB King was my first hero – but when I play that, I don’t hear as much of me coming through as with the Strat. And yes, there is a bit of a fight in a Strat. You’ve gotta work on it, and you’ve gotta put something into it to get something out of it. And that’s been my thing. You’ve gotta play it loud!”

Since 2005 that volume has typically been achieved via Two Rock amplifiers, including a signature model which was released in 2012. Having said that, Schofield’s current rig is based around not his signature model but a newer Two Rock benefitting from refinements put in place since the company changed hands a few years ago.

“Now they’re even better! One of my best friends Eli Lester bought the company about five or six years ago, and Max Skinner who’s always been with them is another very dear friend of mine. So it’s like my best friends run the company, so we work together. So now actually I also use the Classic Reverb now, which is one of their more recent models, which kind of even surpassed my signature model, which was my previous favourite.”

As for guitars, Schofield’s main whip is the SVL 61, a guitar based heavily on his own ’61 Strat but augmented with Callahan hardware and custom-wound SVL pickups and a slightly more modern feel without betraying its vintage-inspired values. “I have my SVL guitars which my friend of 30 years, Simon Law, makes in the UK. Then there’s my Mad Professor overdrive pedal that we worked on together, the Supreme. It’s a signature overdrive with two stages, and that goes into the Two Rock and I’m ready to go. I’m trying to kind of keep it as simple as possible these days and just to think about playing rather than gear… although there’s always something!”

The tour will be presented by Gerrard Allman Events, head to their website for ticketing information.