Jonah Matranga

Jonah Matranga

Biography

Singer. Songwriter. Guitarist. Band member. Solo artist. Self-proclaimed “utter rock geek and art idealist who absolutely believes in the transformative, transcendent power of rocking the fuck out, which is in no way tied to volume or mood, but just letting go.” Jonah Matranga is, and has been, all those things. And perhaps, he always will be, if his ambitious track record is any indication.

Jonah Matranga is a prolific artist who is full of ideas. He straddles the line between the under-underground and the mainstream cusp. That suits him just fine. He attracts fans of Dashboard Confessional and Converge. No, that’s not a typo. Scan the crowds at his […]

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Singer. Songwriter. Guitarist. Band member. Solo artist. Self-proclaimed “utter rock geek and art idealist who absolutely believes in the transformative, transcendent power of rocking the fuck out, which is in no way tied to volume or mood, but just letting go.” Jonah Matranga is, and has been, all those things. And perhaps, he always will be, if his ambitious track record is any indication.

Jonah Matranga is a prolific artist who is full of ideas. He straddles the line between the under-underground and the mainstream cusp. That suits him just fine. He attracts fans of Dashboard Confessional and Converge. No, that’s not a typo. Scan the crowds at his shows, and you’ll see kids adorned in Dashboard and Converge gear. He appeals to people seeking true, sincere art, to those who don’t care how you say it but that you say it in the first place. Ultimately, Matranga has universal appeal.

Over the past 15 years, this Bay Area transplant –he’s from Massachusetts originally- has consistently and constantly created. He’s performed under 4 bands names, released 6 full lengths and 5 EPs (some of which were offered on a sliding pay scale), appeared on several splits and compilations, and has contributed a guest appearance here and there. He has written over 100 songs and played over 1000 shows. Some were in basements. Others were at sold out clubs.

Far, New End Original, Onelinedrawing, and Gratitude. Those were his bands, his projects. Onelinedrawing was the most fluid, sometimes featuring Matranga with a guitar and a Casio, and other times featuring “guest” band members in the live setting. After Gratitude’s 2005 break up, Matranga came away with a renewed sense of understanding. “It taught me that while I love rock, I can’t do it in a traditional way, with all the politics and gross ambition. I’m not good at it, and I don’t like it,” he says. “[There’s] nothing special about playing guitar. It’s about what you put it into it.” Clearly, Matranga doesn’t need a band to capture anyone’s attention; he can
do this all on his own. That aesthetic is what makes him an edgy singer-songwriter, not far removed from the likes of Elvis Costello.

Singing back up on “Steps Ascending” on Thursday’s War All The Time. Singing on Fort Minor’s The Rising Tide (Fort Minor, for those not in the know, is the solo project of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.) Co-authoring “Calling,” the first single from Taproot’s Blue Sky Research album. Covering everyone from Sade to the Deftones to the Sugarcubes to 7 Seconds. Those are also things Matranga has done. He thrills and surprises his fans with his spontaneity. He’s always “making it new.” You never know what Jonah Matranga’s going to do next.

But there is a new, next step for him, and that’s his partnership with Equal Vision Records, which sees the release of There’s A Lot In Here, a CD/DVD. Matranga’s music is like Sinead O’Connor-meets-Cheap Trick, with a little Neil Young, Prince, Fugazi, and Zeppelin thrown in, as he’s admittedly inspired by the chances those artists took. Matranga considers himself a “mess of art school ideals and populist sentiment, and I love that paradox.”

There’s A Lot In Here fully illustrates that paradox. The release is a lot to digest, but it goes down easy. The audio and visual portions are companions. “I hate it when I watch a music DVD and I can’t take the music with me and listen to it,” says Matranga. Therefore, he created the audio disc of his favorite performances from the
DVD. It features 12-live songs, with lots of room-filling vocalizations, gentle strumming, and some knuckling down. Chitchats, self-interruption, banter with the audience and crowd participation prevail. There are lo-fi, improvised renditions of “classics” and crowdpleasers like “Halo,” “Better Than This,” “Crush On Everyone,” “A-L-L-Y-S-O-N,” “Lukewarm,” and “Yr Letter.”

The DVD illustrates the 2 opposite sides of the singer: “the rock out club side and the goofy, hyper-intimate living room side.” The visual portion features a gritty filming of a club show as well as one of his famous living room shows. Additionally, there is a video of each song from The Volunteers album, which showcases “the
artfuck video guy” side of Matranga.

Essentially, There’s A Lot In Here celebrates Jonah Matranga’s prolific past, while looking forward to his undoubtedly full future. Matranga says, “It’s a statement about me. It’s the first larger scale release under my name, like I am saying, ‘This is what I do. It’s a big crazy mess, just so you know.” Ultimately, he wants
to directly connect with people, unencumbered by barriers. All in all, Jonah Matranga is not about strategic sincerity. He’s about being an artist, sans the pretense.

“This is what I do. I make art and show it to people, and I’m just trying to do it as purely as possible,” Matranga says. “An artist’s job is to do the weird things that pop into their head. People might be skeptical of my motives, but if I wanted to make a gazillion dollars playing pop music, I would have tried more obvious stuff.
It’s not that I don’t know how to do that; I’m just not interested in it.”

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