Matt Jackson of Coptic Times

A few weeks back, our buddy Rick Smith, aka BDS, aka the Toxic Mosher (only once a year) did an interview with Matt Jackson, vocalist of COPTIC TIMES and former bassist of IRON AGE. COPTIC TIMES recently put out a 7″ on Youngblood Records and will hopefully be making a trip up to Toronto sometime in the near future.

BDS: Who are you and how did coptic times come to be?

MATT: My name is Matt Jackson.  Coptic Times started as a side project while I was playing bass in Iron Age, we put out a demo in the spring of 2006 and played a few gigs around Austin.  In the past year I’ve been able to focus most of my attention to the band and since we have been able to play a few more places and finally release a record since then. Nick, Zach and I have been friends for awhile and played in a few bands together. We were looking to do something different than we had done in the past and the music itself came naturally.
BDS: Did you guys just get together and play locally when you were in town just for fun?
MATT: That is definitely how things started. I wrote the demo songs in a week or so, we practiced a few times then started playing some shows around January / February of 2006.  All of which were in Austin. we played 423 Tillery a few times and Sound on Sound records.  After that we recorded our demo around March at this kid’s trailer in the Hill Country, literally in the middle of nowhere. We then released the demo tape under the Next Level Records title, a small label that Jason Tarpey had put together to release a few tape demos, inlcuding the Iron Age demo and Livin’ Demo.


BDS: What happened with you leaving Iron Age? Are you guys till on good terms?

MATT: There were a few deciding factors involved in the split, I decided to go back to school and take on a full time class schedule, so my schedule was no longer going to coincide with their tour plans and they seemed to be going in a different direction than I was at the time.  We had all been friends before Iron Age had begun and we are still good friends. Those dudes are awesome musicians and great song writers and I wish them nothing but the best.  The new songs that I have caught live sound heavy as hell.
You were touring with those guys pretty much non-stop since the demo came out. It must have been a hard desision to make to leave.
Iron Age saw some member changes over the years, I was there at the first ever practice and stuck with it for over 3 years, but like all things in life, at some point it comes to an end.  I loved being in the band, traveling and meeting the people that we toured with and stayed with, I have never and will never regret a moment of it, however since then I have become more focused on my education and finishing my undergrad studies.  Man that sounds ridiculous!
BDS: What are you taking in school?
I am about to graduate with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology. The next step is to beg my way into grad school and get my masters, then on to my phd. I spent a lot of time messing around my first few years of school and managed to get by with the minimum gpa. I took off two years to tour and now that I am back in school it is much easier to focus, so now my time is spent trying to bump my grade point average. Sounds like a blast huh!

BDS: I’ve only known you as a bass player of a IA. What made you want to put the bass down and pick up a mic?

MATT: I’ve always played guitar and I didn’t start playing bass until about 6 years ago, obviously its not too difficult to be a mediocre bass player if you know the basics of guitar, but man being a front man isn’t as cool as I imagined it to be, and I learned that pretty quickly haha. I’d much rather hide behind an instrument, but once you work out the awkward kinks and tune out the blank stares it becomes a pretty good time.  The best part of fronting a band is being able to feed off the energy of the crowd, there is no other feeling like it!


BDS: What topics are you trying to get across that you obviously could not in your older bands because you were the bass player?

MATT: Oh man, writing lyrics is the hardest part! I like to take a pretty simple approach to my writing. I enjoy repetitive lyrics, catchy choruses… basically a pop song.  What better way to brainwash people than to repeat the same lines over and over!  Most of the lyrical content is based around things that I am currently reading at the time.  I’ve always been fascinated with religion and the songs on our new 7″ were inspired by such literature, mostly involving the Christian belief of the coming of the end.
BDS: I’m guessing that’s where the cover imagery and the title “Temptation” came from then?
Yes sir. The cover art was based on this brochure I picked up from some evangelist that was based on man’s temptations, we sent that to Andrei and he did an awesome job of designing his take on the original image. That dude is an insane artist, and probably the easiest person to work with. Between Sean and I, we had him draw up several versions, I was mainly concerned with the size of the devils traps.
BDS: The artwork rules. Has Andrei done any other artwork for records or shirts?
I think that dude is a hot commodity these days, I know he did the artwork for the last Municipal Waste record, as well as Violation and a few others, everything of his that I have seen is awesome!  He did the cover art to the Lights Out LP on Youngblood and that is where Sean first started working with him.
BDS: I’ve always liked the cover of “Overload” and have never really looked into the artwork. Its such a odd cover but it works so well.
MATT: Yeah definitely, I wanted something simple, black and white, and Andrei took it to a whole other level. I’m a big fan of Pettibon’s style and I wanted it to be simple without being a blatant tribute.
BDS: Yeah. i was actually going to say I can hear a lot of later era black flag influence in the music and the lyrics.
MATT: Yeah we have been hearing the Black Flag comparisons since our first show, I’m a huge fan and they are a major influence on the writing style so it never bothers me to hear that statement, if anything it is a huge compliment.  I’m sure the rest of the dudes are sick of it. To me the record came out with a definite vibe of west coast influences. Bl’ast, Agression, Black Flag, Adolescents, TSOL, throw in some Poison Idea (one of the most influential of all time) and we are set.
I guess you cant really go wrong when putting those bands sounds together.
That’s what I’m saying, even with the influences I still feel the end result is a sound all our own. All of us listen to a wide array of music, so other influences tend to pop up every now and then. I’m hoping more James Brown shines through on our LP but I don’t think we’ll be able to pull that off.


BDS: Speaking of a LP, what’s in the future for the band?

We are currently writing for our LP on Youngblood. So far its been a slow process but we have a few songs done and the direction isn’t straying far from the sound on our 7″. We are shooting for a summer ’09 release, but we will be going into the studio sometime this winter to demo some tracks and vibe it out from there.

BDS: Let’s talk about Youngblood for a bit. Tell me a bit about your relationship with Sean and working with Youngblood records.  How did the offer come about of him releasing the CT stuff?

MATT: So far I have been able to work with Sean and Youngblood through Iron Age and Coptic Times and it has been the easiest label transactions that I have ever been a part of.  Sean is very meticulous with every detail of his releases and he was the first person I contacted after we recorded the Coptic Times Demo. Apparently Sean was into the demo, but like most, he wasn’t sure of what direction we were going to be heading in, or whether or not we were going to continue to just be a side project or form into a full time band. We did a live radio set here in Austin for KVRX and I sent that recording to Sean, including some new material and he was sold.
I can’t thank that dude enough for taking the time to invest in our record and take care of every last detail, also I’d like to give a quick shout out to Sean since he is probably sitting in a hospital room right now awaiting the arrival of twins.

BDS: Do you think Coptic Times will become a full time band and tour and such once the LP drops?

MATT: We definitely want to do some touring, especially after the lp is released. At this point we all have full time jobs and or school which makes it difficult for any extensive touring.  We’ve still managed to make it to the East coast to play the Youngblood Showcase in PA (our record release) and the final Set To Explode show in DC. We are also heading to Florida in December and playing This is for You Fest, so that should definitely be a blast.
Are there any plans to come up to Toronto?
To be honest I want to hit Canada, Europe and Japan before we do any touring in the states! I really want to tour Japan. I’ve heard nothing but great things. Canada is awesome. Toronto was easily my favorite stop on Iron Age tours.
BDS: Why is that?
MATT: Toronto has some great bands right now, Career Suicide and Fucked Up are two of my favorite bands around!  Not to mention last time I was there we played with Rammer and that band shreds. Also, The Endless Blockade is the shit. You guys have got something rad going there.Next time I’m in Toronto I’m going to hit up Sneaky Dee’s and get some nachos as a cheat meal. Big plans!


BDS: I’ve heard you’re a weight lifter now. Tell me more about that.

MATT: Ha, I currently work as a personal trainer for Gold’s Gym in Austin, so I have gotten real into lifting and body building training. I’ve been into sports since i was a kid, and was an all state powerlifter in high school but in the past year I’ve hit it pretty hard and started seeing some positive results. I’ve got this idea of weight lifting being the ultimate form of self destruction it sounds ridiculous but when you think about it, in what other aspect of life can you literally inflict pain upon yourself in order to reach a positive outcome.

BDS: Being straight edge and into weight training do you get a lot of people offering you steroids? What do you think about the use of steroids in that world?

MATT: Well man, it’s an odd thing. All through high school, many of the dudes that I played football with were using steroids, and now training to do body building there is actually two different categories:  those who are natural lifters and those who use pro hormones.  I’ve never been offered steroids but they are easily attainable, especially living this close to Mexico. In the end it’s a short cut for those who lack the will power and motivation to work hard.  I also feel people are completely desensitized to things like HGH due to all the media exposure it has received as of late. Solid nutrition is where its at, that’s what makes all the difference

BDS: What are the best tunes to work out to?

MATT: I like to mix it up, something new everyday, the staples are definitely:
– Obituary – Cause of Death, great workout record, good solid pace
– Entombed – Left Hand Path , provides a good solid pump
I’ll usually pick up the pace with some Thrash Metal when doing cardio, maybe some:
– Testament – The New Order
Black Metal sets a good running pace as well. Like i said, i have a six day workout split so i have to keep mixing it up to keep it fresh. Apparently i tend to favor heavier records for my work outs. Speaking of Entombed have you heard Nicke Anderrson’s band The Solution?
BDS: I never got that into the metal scene. I did dabble a bit though.
MATT: Man, that shit rules, straight motown jams, that dude is a ridiculous musician. It took me a while to warm up to it I like most of the extreme stuff death metal, black metal, some grind etc. That’s one of the reasons i like to do a couple of bands at once, so I am able to write music that isn’t centered around one genre.


BDS: What else have you been working on?

MATT: Currently I am just doing Coptic Times and Streetcleaner. Streetcleaner has more of a heavy feel with some blasts. 3 of the members from Coptic Times are in Streetcleaner as well.

BDS: What has been going on in Austin these days other then huge music festivals?

MATT: Same old stuff man, a lot of hippies keeping it weird some pretty good shows.

BDS: Are there any new bands we should keep an ear open for?

MATT: Sacred Shock is a newer band from here, Alex who plays rhythm now in Iron Age does vocals and they are rad, they did a couple of tours this summer and their new 7″ is awesome. Not too many bands have been popping up recently, almost everyone in the area is in at least 2 bands so musicians around here stay busy. Reed (former drummer of Iron Age) has a band in San Antonio called FEED, and they are rad total Alice in Chains style riffage.

BDS: I think thats about to sum up the interview… any last words?

MATT: Shout outs to Party Man Panda, Human Mess, Sean Youngblood and his new kids on the block, Motorhead, Pig Champion RIP, James Brown live at the Apollo, and thanks for the interview dude!


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