Friday, April 28, 2023

The Matt Fiorito Interview: of the Dayglo Abortions, Powerclown, and much much more

"I tellya, Matt is a fucking monster on bass guitar. He puts his back into every note he plays onstage, for real. And it’s hard work, we’re not up there checkin’ our goddamn fuckin’ social media shit." 

- Murray Acton of the Dayglo Abortions, interviewed here

The Dayglo Abortions by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

Matt Fiorito (on the left, above) looks a bit like Alice Cooper, except younger and tougher and harder to imagine golfing; he also favours a rather different style of makeup, when in his Sketchy Clown persona. 

Sketchy Clown of Powerclown, by Bob Hanham, also not to be reused without permission

I don't know him well, but he seems pretty soft spoken, especially given that he's in a band called the Dayglo Abortions. But he looks real cool when he jumps. Never saw Alice Cooper do this, didja?

Still by Bob Hanham, still not to be reused without permission

He keeps up with Murray Acton just fine onstage, seems the ideal sideman. And in case you missed it, the Dayglo Abortions put on one hell of a show opening for FEAR the other day. They were filling in for DOA, whose frontman, Joe Keithley, was sidelined by the need for a hernia operation (btw Joe tells me he is doing okay and "should be playing shows by the end of June"). Maybe it was just the high-prestige gig, but I thought they were the band of the night, delivering the tightest, fastest, most powerful set I've heard them play this year (I shot two songs of it, if you're curious) - this despite Murray Acton facing down a recent diagnosis of colon cancer (more on that later; but there is a Gofundme campaign ongoing to help cover his expenses, because he's not going to be able to tour once the more hardcore treatments start). They've also released what I think is their strongest, best, smartest, funniest, and most-all-round interesting album since 1987's Here Today, Guano Tomorrow, called Hate Speech, which, Matt tells me, has finally made it onto vinyl (Vancouverites can pick it up May 6th at the Waldorf). There is also a follow up EP, Upside Down World.

Matt Fiorito by Bob Hanham, not to be reused without permission

After the Dayglo Abortions, probably the next-most notorious band Matt was in was a clown-suited Iron Maiden cover band called Powerclown, who I was always kinda too afraid to go see, or something - it just seemed so unwholesome. The singer got busted at the airport in Japan back in 2018, where they are very conscious about drugs, trying to smuggle a very large quantity of stimulants in his guitar case. Said singer goes by a few names (Dan Scum is the most common one, but there is also a Dan Scumm variant, as well as Dicksee Diànno). He is still in prison in Japan, which probably sucks a fair bit. I lived in Japan for awhile, and have read that the prison system over there is pretty brutal, actually, to the extent that Amnesty International has protested against their treatment of prisoners

Bob. Not to be reused. Etc.

Apparently Matt was also in Death Sentence for awhile, too, but I only learned that from Bob Hanham this past week. That's him playing guitar, here, isn't it? I wonder if he was in the band when I saw them at Funky's? I think the Wett Stilettos were on the bill that night. Coulda sworn I shot video of them doing "In Flames," but I never put it up, if so. 

Bob Hanham photo, still not to be reused, think this is Matt in Death Sentence mode

Oh, and he's the only person I've met, at least that I know of, who grew up in what is now known as Nunavut, though he was born in Ontario and moved to what was then called Frobisher Bay, back before Nunavut actually was created. Iqaluit - the Inuit name for Frobisher Bay - looks like it would a tough place to be from; but I mean, I used to complain about growing up in Maple Ridge, in terms of limited opportunities, difficulty to access the sort of music you might want, and so forth. Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, but recent photos look like this, so imagine what it must have looked like in the late 70s and early 80s, which I guess is when Matt lived there?

Note: This photo is not by Bob Hanham. 

That's where we'll start: Iqaluit. Matt's typing sucks, so he handwrote answers to my questions. His handwriting is very legible and kinda cool to see, so this will be my first-ever handwritten blog interview! (I mean, the Minimalist Jug Band did a handwritten interview, too, once, but it was pretty short and I just typed it out). Click the pictures to make them larger - I will also type them out, mostly because Matt's bandmate Marc (hi, Marc) is blind, and might want to read this, and probably has some sort of text-to-speech app or JAWS reader or something, which isn't gonna do a damn bit of good with photographs of handwriting... but I am going to do that later, maybe in a subsequent post (sorry, Marc! And I still want to talk to you about YOUR new project, too!). 

The first section is pretty self-explanatory so though I ask more questions than I'm representing, I'm just going to let Matt have the floor...

Allan: So tell me about growing up in Iqaluit? What was life and music like up there? Do you have any Inuit blood? (Is "Fiorito" an Italian name, btw?). Were you playing music there? Did bands ever tour through?

Allan: How is playing with a blind drummer? Is it any different from working with a sighted drummer? As a drummer yourself, have you noticed any interesting details about Marc's technique? 

Allan: Okay, we're going to come back to the Dayglos, but first,  I never got to see Powerclown, which I now regret a fair bit. Did Iron Maiden ever react to the band? Also, can you tell me anything new about Dan? Have you received any updates on his condition? Were you with him in Japan when he was arrested? 


Okay, thanks. Coming back to the Dayglos, then, I thought that was an amazingly tight, focused set, opening for FEAR. I've seen you a few times this year and I think that was my favourite, though I might have just been excited that you were opening for FEAR. Did you do anything special to rehearse or prep for such a high-profile gig? 

I also thought Hate Speech was a ridiculously good album. I liked Armageddon Survival Guide, too, but I LOVE Hate Speech. Did you write/ co-write anything on it? Any insights into the writing process? Do you travel over there to work on songs, or do you write mainly via the internet, or...?

Photo by Bob Hanham, think this one is pre-COVID (2019). Not to be reused without permission!

You seem like quite a contrast with Murray - I think you said a dozen words when I was in your apartment interviewing him, while he basically just ran with only a few prompts for nearly two hours - I just sat back and let him go. Man, that dude has opinions and ideas - he really is quite the dynamo, and seems razor sharp. I would be pretty intimidated if I had to argue with him about something. Do you find you have disagreements with him, and if so, how do you deal with that? (Does the band ever get in fights or such?). 


Do you have favourite songs to play live? 

What is being on the road with the Dayglo Abortions like? Any survival strategies you've developed as a band? Anything we should say about the upcoming tour [with Motorama, which I didn't realize Matt was also in when I was writing these questions, and Toronto's Random Killing]?

Matt by Bob, not to be reused without permission

Deets on the Waldorf show here (Matt tells me there will be vinyl of Hate Speech!). Also, if you can, contribute something to Murray's Gofundme (and read his own statement about his cancer diagnosis there). 

1 comment:

Gord McCaw said...

Another great interview, I was particularly taken with Matt's experiences growing up in Iqaluit, how many people can say they've been up close and personal with a pod of narwhals?
His hand written responses add charm to all this and, of course, more stellar photos from Bob...