In his newest single, “Rainin in LA,” musician Matty Carlock goes back to his roots. Musically, in some ways, for the musician who’s dabbled in hip-hop, hardcore and singer-songwriter. But also mentally—the Monmouth County native, who now lives in Los Angeles, got a spark of inspiration, and nostalgia, from precipitation.
“It doesn’t rain in LA that often, and it’s very rare that it does. That day reminded me of a Jersey summer day, and then I got to work on the lyrics and the melody,” says Carlock, adding that the song developed into one about falling for someone who lives far away and finding it hard to trust people.
Carlock was exposed to many different kinds of music growing up in Monmouth County, and it turned out to be a valuable escape during his time in school.
“I was a bullied kid who was pushed aside a lot,” remembers Carlock. “I guess the energy of hardcore was around me. My cousin showed me this band called Shai Hulud, and my cousin said, ‘This band hates the human race,’ and I was like, ‘This is what we are doing then.’ It’s ironic because I got to play with them later on.’
“My mom is a huge Springsteen fan and it’s her religion,” says Carlock. “At a very young age my cousins showed me punk and hardcore. We are talking like elementary school young. By eighth grade I was going to Hellfest.”
Carlock says going to those shows at such a young age inspired him to pursue a career in music, and he still thinks about those shows from time to time.
“It meant everything,” says Carlock. “It was all I wanted to do, and it was evident that it was what I was going to do in life.”
Sometimes you get what you wish for in life, and Carlock got to make his younger self proud by performing in hardcore shows. Even though Carlock misses playing VFW halls, and would one day possibly go back to hardcore, the lifestyle was kind of taxing.
“We played this show in Syracuse and within an hour there was a fight,” says Carlock. “On the second weekend we played this show in Richmond in the basement of an apartment complex. The person didn’t clear it with the apartment complex, and there were 100 kids in this apartment complex. I go to the van, and I hear people yelling, ‘He has a gun’, and there was a guy in the upper apartment pointing a gun at us.’’
It was in Mississippi when Carlock realized that things needed to change, and Carlock sings about it in “The Punks Who Had Enough” in his 2019 album Jailbirds.
“We were on tour and our van broke down in Mississippi,” remembers Carlock. “It was back in the day when social media wasn’t popular, and we couldn’t really get word out. It was like, ‘Oh fuck what are we gonna do?’ While we were waiting for the auto shop to open, we wrote the riff for ‘The Punks Who Had Enough.’ While in Mississippi, I got a call from my mother that my uncle passed away from a heart attack, and he was such a big supporter of my music. I then went for a walk, and was like, ‘Wow, we stayed up all night writing this song because we were broken down, and came to find out he broke down too.’ There’s a line in the song that goes, ‘We all break down sometimes,’ and it was a nod to him.’’
Carlock moved into a more alternative, singer-songwriter sound in the mid 2010s with his records The Jailbirds and Loveless. He credits fellow Monmouth County native Brian Fallon with showing him the exit plan from hardcore music.
“Brian and the Gaslight Anthem showed us that there was a path forward out of hardcore,” says Carlock. “Especially if you hate tattoos, and come from a violent culture of hardcore and punk. There was a path forward for you and this is how you do it. I was inspired by Brian, and at the time I was getting more in touch with my mom’s music of Springsteen and Bob Dylan.’’
During that time, Carlock produced music that he is still proud of today especially in regards to his album The Jailbirds. The album was long in the making, and Carlock wrote a lot of the music for it during Hurricane Sandy when the storm knocked out power to most of the state.
“I wrote 90% of that LP years and years and years ago,” explains Carlock. “We started writing that record during Hurricane Sandy and did it in the candlelight. That album means so much to me, and one of the reasons why was Jesse Malin cosigned me; he jumped on the LP and it changed my life.”
The process of that album came at a time when Carlock was still trying to figure out who he is as a musician, and different genres had his attention.
“Jesse would put me on shows as a singer-songwriter, and I had this parallel thing going of ‘What does he do?’”, says Carlock. “‘Because he’s in The Source magazine with Fetty Wap, and he’s a singer-songwriter, so what does he do?’’’
And it’s still kind of hard to exactly pinpoint what kind of musician Carlock is, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. He sees the connection between the different styles of music he plays and believes they all intertwine.
“Hardcore and Hip-Hop go hand in hand,” explains Carlock. “A lot of hardcore musicians don’t really listen to hardcore, and a lot of times we would listen to freestyle rap. I liked it because it was rhythm-based and word-based, and you carry yourself with the same attitude.”
Carlock has plans to release more music this year, and is enjoying his time in Los Angeles, but a part of him still misses the Garden State.
“It ain’t Jersey though,” says Carlock. “What I would do to drive down to Sandy Hook, or go to the Lanes. I love Jersey so much.”