Guitarist Patrick Matera kept busy in recent years as a member of pop superstar Katy Perry’s band, but he’s been working on a new project lately — namely his debut solo album.
Echo Letter is a labor of love that Matera put together with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that had many backers behind it. While originally conceived as an instrumental record, Matera completed eight full tracks, even adding his own vocal talents.
Fender News caught up with Matera to talk about what gear he used on Echo Letter and how the album came about.
Fender.com: How long have these songs been bouncing around in your head?
Matera: There are a couple of songs that are pretty old. The first song “Tarot Cards” was a demo I did about seven years ago. Last summer, we had about a month off and I just set myself a schedule when I was at home. Every day, I’d try to accomplish something with the new music. When I started off, it was actually going to be instrumental, but they just evolved into full songs.
Matera: I mostly played an old Stratocaster I had — a mid-90’s Japanese Strat, like a ’63 reissue with, I think, Custom Shop ’69 pickups in it. It used to be pink, and now it’s brown. I took all the paint off it. It’s been through the wringer, but it still sounds pretty good. Other than that, I used a couple of different Teles, and an actual ’66 Jazzmaster.
Fender.com: It’s actually coming up on the 60th anniversary of the Stratocaster. Who are some of the names that come to mind when you think of a Strat?
Matera: For me, it starts with David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler. Of course, you have to think of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. There are so many amazing Strat players. I hadn’t played a Strat in years because I kind of got tired of it. So this record was the first time I had really played a Strat in a long time.
Fender.com: What has the feedback been like for the new material?
Matera: Obviously, Katy’s fans didn’t know what to expect from me, as far as my record sounding anything like her stuff. But people have been supportive, which is encouraging. I hope it’s something different than what people would expect.
Fender.com: What kind of sound were you going for?
Matera: A lot of the guitar stuff is very fuzzed out, using multiple fuzz pedals plugged into each other. I started the record by programming while we were on planes, so it ended up being more keyboard heavy just due to the way we were traveling. To fit with all that stuff, I felt like the guitars had to be really fuzzy.
Fender.com: Where does the band name Echo Letter come from?
Matera: I was trying to come up with a band name for a long time, but they’re all taken. You’d be amazed. You can make up a word, spell it wrong and use a dollar sign for the S, and there would be five bands already named that. It’s really hard to think of new ones that haven’t been used. It was actually initially going to be Ghost Letter. But with the 7,000 “ghost” bands out there now, I changed it to Echo Letter. The cover art is a picture I took while in Portugal. There was this guy singing love songs on the street, and I felt like it fit in with Echo Letter.
Fender.com: Why use Kickstarter to help make the album?
Matera: One of the reasons I did the Kickstarter was because I knew I needed to finish it. I’ve started something like this before, but never got around to finishing it, either because I got too busy or I wasn’t happy with it. I knew with the Kickstarter, I’d have a lot of people looking over my shoulder making sure this got finished. The other major challenge was having the discipline to let it go and consider it done.
Fender.com: Who were some of the artists you enlisted for Echo Letter?
Matera: I worked with Tim Schoenhals. I met him on the very first Katy tour, where he was working with a band called the Daylights doing sound. He’s got a studio in Burbank, and he and I did almost everything on the record together. We brought in Adam Christgau (Tegan and Sara) for drums, because I can’t play them. [laughs] And we brought in Chaun Horton, who is playing with Natasha Bedingfield at the moment. They’re two very different drummers, so we brought each in for different songs. Josh Moreau, who plays bass for Katy, also played bass on about five songs.
For more information, visit Matera’s official website.