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Shawn Harris of The Matches

The Local Band Returns for Fillmore Show

Nearly 10 years after the group formed, Oakland punk band The Matches is gaining a national presence with a steady touring regiment and a new album on Epitaph that features nine producers on 13 tracks, including Rancidís Tim Armstrong and Blink 182 and +44 bassist Mark Hoppus. The band, which was originally called The Locals until a group with the same name complained, returns to the Bay Area on December 12th for a show at The Fillmore. Lead singer and guitarist Shawn Harris spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from a tour date in Chicago.

SF Station (SFS): Arenít The Locals from Chicago?

Shawn Harris (SH): Yeah, thatís true. If I had the internet Iíd look and see if they have a show tonight. It would be a prime night to go toothpaste their van or something like that.

SFS: Were you pretty mad when your band had to change its name?

SH: Anytime anybody encroaches on your space, even if it is intangible personal space like a band name, you get a bit defensive and pissed off. But, after a couple of weeks I was glad. We now have an arch nemesis, which is pretty cool. I think if you are ever going to be successful you have to have a villain. And The Locals is a pretty bad name, so Iím pretty juiced to be The Matches now. They can have the terrible band name.

SFS: How did you come up with The Matches?

SH: When Jon our guitar player joined the band, he was about 15 years old and the rest of us were all about 18. He had recently set fire to a mattress in a mattress store in El Cerrito. He didnít go to jail because he was so young, but he had to go to counseling because he was a pyro. We just liked the destructive nature of The Matches and where that got Jon. Miraculously that was a one-word name that wasnít taken.

SFS: How did working with nine producers shape your sound on the album?

SH: It was similar to the writing process for the CD, which involved coming up with songs on acoustic guitars in parking lots and on peoplesí floors. It felt kind of comfortable to be uncomfortable, if that makes any sense. The songs as they were demoed definitely were an odd assortment of inspiration from basically our travels when we were not yet accustomed to the road. We were definitely out of our element then. The collection of producers was really suited toward the writing process. We put together, in essence, a super producer.

SFS: Mark Hoppus has the most producer credits on the album. You are also opening for his band +44 on this tour. Is he sort of a punk rock father figure for The Matches?

SH: We have our father figure, which is the wizard Miles Hurwitz, who produced the song ďClumsy Heart.Ē Heís been the wizard mentor since the beginning. I would call Mark more of a big brother, if we are making everything familial. We owe a lot to him for letting us stay at his studio and also for taking us on tour to support our record.

SFS: Your new CD has nine producers, which is almost as many producers as the new Jay-Z album.

SH: How many producers does he have? Did he beat us?

SFS: He has 14 tracks and 12 producers.

SH: Man, well on the next album weíll beat him.

The Matches perform at The Fillmore with +44 on December 12. Doors open at 7 pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets cost $23.50 for general admission.