Worldwide rock with Rob Thomns, Hod $tewart, and Matchbox Twenty

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Worldwide rock with Rob Thomns, Hod $tewart, and Matchbox Twenty
Road Warrior
Worldwide
rockwith
RobThomns,
Hod$tewart,
and
Matchbox
Twenty
Matt Beck is having the time of his life.
With gigs likethe ones he's landed,who
can blame him?
The 39-year-oldkeyboardistand guitaristfor acts like Rob Thomas,Rod Stewart, and Matchbox Twenty manages to find
a rare hole in his busy schedule,meeting
me during the lunch break of an offBroadwayshow he is rehearsingin New
York City. Enjoying a momentary pause
from his usual plate of heavytravel,Beck is
taking the opportunityto dig into a multitude of writing,recording,and musical
directingprojectsaround New York.The
hiatuswill be short-lived,however.Come
early'09, he'll hit the road hard once again,
touring with Rob Thomasin support of the
superstarsinger'supcomingsolo record.
Beck has built a formidable reoutationas
who can steo seama multi-instrumentalist
lessly between musical styles.Accomplishments such as his swing-erapiano comping
on Rod Stewart's Standards albums and
his R&B-inflectedguitar riffs with Gwen
S t efani h ave ma de him a s t aole on bot h
t he down town New Yo rk m us ic s c ene
and the wo rldwid e to uri ng c ir c uit .
Born and raised in Westchester Countv,
42
KEVBoARDr2.2 ooB
New York,Beck started his musicaltraining
with studies in classicalpiano.The son of
professionalmusiciansand educators(his
father is a violinist,his mothera French
horn player),he was accepted to the iuilliard School's Pre-CollegeDivisionat the
age of seven on piano.In his earlyteens,
he discoveredrock,teachinghimselfhow
to play the guitar,albeit in a peculiarway left-handed- even though he's righthanded."Startingon piano,I neverthought
muchaboutthe guitarj'
"Butwe had
he explains.
a guitarlyingaroundthe
houseand ljust pickedit
up,not evenrealizing
that I was playingit lefty.
By the timeI decided
th a t I w a n tedto i ncorp o ra tei t i n to my
mu s i c ,I w a s al ready
u s e dto p l ayi ngi t and
fi g u ri n go u t chords
th a t w a y .Actual l y,I' m
gladI did,becauseI feel
l i k e l h a v e a uni que
ta k eo n v o i ci ngsand
s tru mmi n gI .go for
t h i n g s a l i t t l e d i f f e r e n t l yb e c a u se o f th e
way I playJ'
Beck studiedboth jazzpianoand guitarat
the ManhattanSchool of Music in New York
City and immediatelyhit the livemusicscene
with a vengeance."l said io myself,'Let me
just throw everythingat the wall and see what
sticksl" he tells me. "l reallywanted to make
a livingat thisl' Beck began to make a name
for himselfplayinggigs on both keyboards
and guitar in a dizzyinglydiverse arrayof
iq
Matil Beck's
Matchbox
TWentY Rig
o u d ie n ce
,-... R i ckenbocker
l oo steel
tourwithMatchbox
Forhismo$recenl
played
R0MattBeck
a Roland
Twenty,
S3
Hammond
7fi18X
atopa chopped
a
organ
tohislett,0nhisrightheused
K2600X
Korg
Trinity
and
a
Kunweil
.Korg Trinity
guihr,
played
worlclation,
Healso
eighlmandolin,
anda Rickenbacker
aswell.
$ringlapsleslguitar
FortheRob
Thomas
tour,BeclCs
scaled
dmvn.
"l played
rigwasslightly
li'tonPro
a Korg
a Kumveil
K26fr1with
Rotary
ontop.Thers's
a BosRT-20
pedal
Ensemble
0nhp offie Tritlnfor
aWurlsounds,
I alsohave
6e organ
itzer2filAona platform
$at gelsrolled
weslrip[fie
forwhen
outdorvn$tage
showldfi/ttnl'
situations.
"l draggeda syntharoundto
rockclubs,and playedin Broadway
orchestrapits;' he says."l took anythingand
that camemy wayl'His gigs have
everything
chairin
includedfillingthe keyboard/guitar
the landmarkrockmusicalRendwhichhe
anchoredduringa subsequenttour.
Beck'sabilityto switchmusicalgenres
led to hisfirst big breakin
and instruments
himfor a
'99, whena friendrecommended
slot in singerLisaLoeb'stouringband."l
endedup playinggigs with her bassplayer,
and sometimes
sometimeson keyboards,
on guitar.He thoughtI'd be perfectfor
Lisa'sband- and it all workedouti'
Word of mouthalsolandedBeckhis
gig with MatchboxTwenty,
breakthrough
whensingerRobThomasand drummerPaulDoucetteheardof
turned-guitarist
abilities."l was playBeck'sambidextrous
ing gigs with PeterStuart,fromthe band
Dog's EyeViewi'Beck recalls."lt was Peter
who plantedthe seed in Rob'sheadabout
me and,at the sametime,I had alsomet
Paulthroughmyworkwith LisaLoeb.So
when Matchboxhad an openingfor a keyboard player,they alreadyknew my work
and thoughtI'd be a good fit. All went well,
and we touredfor a yearand a halfl'
with an
A consummateprofessional
ironcladworkethic,Beckoffersup some
valuabletips for aspiringsidemen."l think
the morethat you can do, the moreyou'll
be ableto get differentkindsof gigsj'he
says."Evenif you don't playanything
besidespiano,you needto knowhow to
playdifferentstyles.Youshouldbe ableto
grooveon an R&Bgig, and also keepit
rockgig
simpleenoughfor a straight-ahead
lot
of
I
find
that
a
and not add too much,
just
too
times,manykeyboardists
are
heavy-handed
for the gig.Youcan'talways
playlots of notesand full chordvoicings.I
alwaysask myself,'What would flongtime
TomPettykeyboardistlBenmontTench
do?' I lookto him.He's an idol of mine.
'Also,you needto be ableto put your
ego asideso that you'reableto bendto
what is neededj'he continues."Youspend
a lot of time beingtold whatto do as a
sideman,and you needto be as amicable
changesat
as possiblewheneverything
the lastminute.Becauseit a/waysdoesl'
Otherwordsof advicefroma guywho
knowsnot onlyhow to get the gig, but how
lo keepit? "Showup preparedto do what
you were hiredto do,"Becksays."Know
the material,
When I'm learningnew music,
I get reallyOCD with it. l'll get intothe
habitof goingto the gym and listeningwith
my iPodon the treadmilleveryday.I think
that'simportant- to get everything
ingrainedin yourheaduntilit becomessecond nature.Beingpreparedis step onel' B
For more on Matt Bed<, visit www.
mvspace.com/m attbed<firenty a nd
wwur.mattbedcoom.
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