Being that no man—or duo—is an island, the Mattson 2 have found themselves working with some of the best in the game, ranging from friend and surf filmmaker Thomas Campbell (who they often cite as the third member of the band) to slide-guitarist Farmer Dave Scher and keyboardist Money Mark, who has worked with such icons as the Beastie Boys, Beck, and Bernie Worrell. Their first full-length album Feeling Hands was released to strong acclaim, and is a fantastic starting point for any new listener. However, for their new record, titled Agar, they’re taking a new approach, stripping things back to the roots of their infectious and carefully orchestrated live sound, creating a track collection that ranges in masterful depth from Coltrane smoke to Art Blakey syncopation to Johnny Marr potency. Perhaps what’s most interesting about speaking with the Mattson 2 is their uncompromising authenticity and collective genius. And as if touring and recording wasn’t enough, they both recently completed MFA’s in Composition, Improvisation, and Technology at UC Irvine, which basically means they are now the masters of the musical universe and further making it impossible to doubt Jonathan when he says this next album will indeed be their best record yet.
For the Mattson 2, their music is more than just improvisation, composition, and mind-bending jazz complexity. It’s a forceful symphony of cultural arrangements and inspirations that transcend all trend and style. Their love of Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, Dirty Harry movies, and Murakami novels all contribute. But in the end, according to Jared, their song craft comes down to the simple things. “The sun and other stuff (babes) also influence me because it evokes a mood that translates to music. You know, very positive and jubilant. Combine this with gloomy, rainy, rejected, cold, Big Sur imagery and you’ve got a masterpiece...well, maybe.” In the era of social media, twerking disney stars, public displays of insanity, and digital overhype, it’s inevitable and refreshing for 28 year-old twins, Jonathan and Jared Mattson, to come along with their finely tailored suits and a shimmering blend of savvy jazz-rock that has caught the attention of music enthusiasts in the know. Aptly titling themselves as the Mattson 2, these gentlemen work hard and jam harder. They possess all of the methodical confidence and smarts to change the way we listen to modern music.
Originally from the sleepy shores of Encinitas, California the brothers have been playing together since their teens. They’ve combined the swagger of Morrissey alongside the whimsical adventure of a Wes Anderson soundtrack to create an original So-Cal sound awash with the swells of crashing surf. Their highly detailed drums dance with the twinkle and shimmer of deft guitar work. It’s complex, yet altogether approachable. Some call it West Coast Jazz. Think of it as a composed “new old wave,” with a vintage brogue swirling the waters of Art Blakey and Chet Baker. Whatever you call it, it’s pure magic. They are twins to the fullest—in looks, style, taste, personality, and their commitment to a fresh musical direction. They create distinct melodies and rapid percussions that only a set of twins could accomplish—generating something vast but yet indescribably connected to the listener. “The sound we have developed just happened totally naturally and in conjunction with our shared existence as twin brothers,” says drummer Jonathan when asked about the role of the SoCal vibe to their music. “Our sounds comes from being absorbed in jazz music at a young age and growing up in Southern California. Its just the way that we are, subconsciously.”
“As young dudes we tried so hard for so long to be accepted by a specific music community and not a skate or surf one,” adds guitarist Jared, who also fluently plays an array of instruments that includes the upright bass, piano and various cheap Japanese flutes. “We loved jazz more than anything so we wanted to be appreciated by music nerds and jazz aficionados.” When I continue to ask them about their “twin-ness” and connection, Jared admits that it’s something truly unique: something visceral, telepathic, and highly idiosyncratic. “I think what makes us click is the fact that we are twins. We definitely have a telepathic bond, and we use it to create music on a heightened level, very different than most are capable of. I am not saying we are better than other bands or have special mutant abilities, just that our bond makes us unique. And it allows us to create things only we are capable of doing.”