interview & photographs by Justin Thor Simenson
It is 11:45 when I text Mato. “This is Justin of gig magazine, we were planning an interview at 1. Are you around?” I am sitting in the shade watching Vieux Farka Touré do a sound check. A few minutes go by and he replies, “We’re not down to the venue yet, still on the road. I’ll call you in a few when we pull off.” Another few minutes go by and he calls. After a brief conversation we decide to do the interview after his set.
Indigenous’ set is at 4:45 and they pull up a little after 3:30 or so. The gear is unloaded from the van and the guys roll right into setup. With a loaded tour schedule (and years of touring under their belts) the members of Indigenous have their routine down. Michael Koster of Tulsa Roots Music turns to me as the band does a quick sound check and says, “Now it is time to turn it up.”
The crowd had been growing all day and they were excited to see Mato and the others take the stage. They don't disappoint either, playing a mix of original and cover rock ‘n’ roll songs loud and fast. Not only do they play it right after hours of being stuck in the tour van, but they play it steady for 2 hours or more.
Indigenous is a band that not only plays traditional rock ‘n’ roll, but they also hold to the idea of touring hard and playing their music live. Mato said, “It is definitely hard work and if people don’t love it it won’t last. So it has to come from a place that is a lot deeper.” I wanted to know if Mato plays guitar 24/7, even when he is off tour. “No, not at all. When I am home I don’t play the guitar. Unless I get an inspiration for a song, then I pick up an acoustic to write something. On the road it is pretty much constant playing.”
As I watched and photographed Indigenous during their set many things started rolling through my head. I was glad that the interview was moved to the end because seeing the band play gave me the questions about their touring. The music comes from a certain part of the brain when the musicians roll from one town to another. They are exhausted mentally and physically stiff from the drive, yet they plug in and crank it out. I said to Mato, “You can hear the miles that the band has driven in their music.” I said. He laughed and sat back in the couch. “Yeah for sure.”