For Northridge-based pop-rock band Matcli, the music is the priority. Unlike many Los Angeles groups that focus extensively on image, either dressing down in designer jeans and T-shirts or donning glammed-out latex gear and cheap feather boas, Matcli avoids such trend traps.
“We’re very modest, fairly normal people,” said singer and guitarist Brandon Aram, a CSUN student. “We don’t want our image to overstep our music.”
Fronted by Aram, an economics junior with a polite clean-cut look, Matcli performed in front of about 40 fans at the Troubadour, a good turnout considering it was 7:45 p.m. on a Wednesday.
The unsigned band’s nice-boy sound has a commercial freshness one could expect to hear on the soundtrack to a recent teenage love-drama with subtle Christian undertones. With U2-inspired guitar works, Aram and guitarist Steven Johnson use plentiful delay effects to create an ethereal sonic carpet that flows upon a solid foundation of drums and bass.
Aram described the band’s sound as slightly complex and eclectic, ranging from brash and abrasive to epic and ambient. With recognizable influences from favorite bands like Jimmy Eat World, Radiohead and the Doves, the band sounds both familiar and accessible.
“We’re not trying to take part in the hipster scene (because) it doesn’t suit us,” Aram said. “We’re humble Valley guys, trying to be ourselves.”
After a five-month hiatus, Matcli is back to rebuild its fan base and just finished work on a five song EP. An earlier self-titled EP, released by the band is available to download on iTunes for $5.94.
The song writing is done collaboratively, as someone brings an idea for a song to rehearsal and the others help craft the song. The songs, which vary in tempo, have dynamic arrangements and tasteful two-part vocal harmonies.
The lyrics, written by Aram, are existentially introspective and deal mainly with issues of love and relationships.
“We don’t venture into politics, because we don’t want to alienate people,” Aram said.
It was the fourth time this year the band played the Troubadour. Their manager, Justin Steinhardt, got them the gig opening for Everybody Else, an upcoming Los Angeles trio who packed the venue.
At the Troubadour, Matcli played first out of four bands in front of an audience of mostly teenage girls who swayed to the music and stayed away from the bar. The band, dressed in jeans and shirts buttoned almost all the way up, played for about 40 minutes.
“I don’t think we are a niche band at all and because of that, it’s harder to get into something that has an immediate fan base,” Aram said. The band plans to change its name, which started as an insider joke when a computer virus destroyed their first demo recording and the name was left repeating as an error message.
For Aram, handling both the band and college studies is a difficult balancing act that requires him to prioritize his time. “If I’m going to be in a band, I can’t rush through school,” said Aram.
In the near future, Matcli plans to write more music and and record a full-length album by next summer. “(Getting signed) is not too far away but further down the line,” said Aram. “If we were to do it now, we would go with a smaller label, putting (our) careers in our own hands.”