Detroit is known all over the world for his car industry but for rock’n’ roll people Detroit is synonymous with small but great labels like Fortune and Hi Q Records. Today, a band which has named itself reffering to these labels can be add to the list of the new talented rockabilly bands. Matt and his gang has released a supercharged first CD for the Spanish label El Toro and are very busy touring the whole wide world (Last Vegas, Green Bay, Spain, Montreal…) and helping the rockabilly community connecting together (thanks to However, Matt has spent some of his precious time answering some of our questions.

by Dave "Long Tall" Phisel and Fred "Virgil" turgis


So, how long have you been doing music ?
I’ve been playing music since the age of 5. I started on piano and was playing the guitar at 14.

Do you have a classical training?
No classical training per se. I only took lessons from the age of 5 until 8. More technique, scales, etc during that time period.

Does it help you writing songs now?
Any musical training will definitely help your understanding and knowledge of musical structure. I’m sure it has some effect on what I’m doing now as a musician and song writer.

How did you get started ?
My father was a jazz musician through high school and college and he encouraged me to take up music. My father played saxaphone.

Did you grow up in a musical family ?
On my father’s side mostly. My grandmother sang and played piano and did a few recordings.

What kind of stuff was it?
She was a young woman when she made them in the early 40’s. They were kind of contemporary music from that time period. Love songs of a sort, I would say.

Have you always been into rockabilly?
I’ve always liked the genre throughout my life. My mother was a big Johnny Cash fan and through that I discovered the Sun stuff and it went from there. During my teen years I listened to a lot of punk and hardcore music (still a big scene for that genre in Detroit). I got heavily into rockabilly/hillbilly music in my mid 20’s.

You’re in your mid 30’s, so you were a teenager when the Stray Cats were big in the States. Did they influence you one way or another?
I did buy their records when I was 13 I think. At the time I think I liked them because they were doing something different and influenced by 50’s music. Looking back, they seem to be a starting point for a lot of people to get involved in rockabilly in the United States.

Do you remember the first record you bought and/or the one that made you think «Woahhh, that’s what I want to do !»
Well, the first record that made me want to play rockabilly music was the Johnny Burnette Rock n Roll Trio stuff. It was so wild and out there....imagine recording all that back in the 50’s?! They must have thought they were from outer space back then.

When you bought that Johnny Burnette record, how old were you and how did you end buying this record?
I was in my early 20’s and it was the first piece of rockabilly vinyl that I’d owned. I can’t remember where I got it, but I rember getting it because I liked their version of «Train Kept A Rollin». The rest of the LP really killed me?! It was hard for me to imagine music that savage and wild being recorded during that time period.

What are your influences as a singer and a songwriter ?
Man, that’s a tough one as there are so many...Johnny Burnette, Jack Earls, Charlie Feathers, Joe Clay, Lew Williams, Curtis Gordon, Johnny Powers are all at the top of my list, but there are a ton of guys out there that had only maybe one record....Jimmy Carroll for instance.

What about your band, where do they come from, were they in other bands before ?
The Hi-Q’s has been around since April 2003. Our drummer Loney and guitar player Smokey (now former guitar player) were in a band called the Big Barn Combo for several years. Our bass player Rudy was in the Starlight Drifters and played in a couple of earlier groups with Loney. Both Loney and Rudy play with Jack Scott as part of the Top Ranks. Currently, Jimmy Sutton of the Four Charms has been filling in duties on lead guitar.

Is he a permanent member ?
Jimmy Sutton is the permanent guitar player for the Hi-Q’s. We’ve just started working on a new set of recordings with him in the last couple of weeks.

What about Steve Jarosz ?
Steve has played with us on several occasions and I’d surely use him in the future if the need arrises. He’s got his own projects here locally including a fantastic Latin Jazz Trio.

Do you remember the first show you played?
We did a show at a small bar in Detroit. I remember feeling relaxed and confident... had a load of fun with it too. I’d been in too many bands were I had to worry wether or not one or more of the other members would do their part.

Tell us more about your site «Planet Rockabilly».When did it start?
Planet Rockabilly is the brain child of our bass player Rudy. I guess I’ve taken over as the content manager while Rudy handles all the technical aspects of the website. At the time, we thought there was no worldwide website that covered the rockin’ scene in depth and on a regular basis. It can be a lot of work, but it’s enabled me to meet a lot of really good people who I would never have known.

The Rockabilly scene seems to be reborned by the many and high quality newcoming bands from Sates. Tell us more about the actual american rockabilly scene.
That’s very true! Most of the newer bands are coming from Southern California where they have a very strong scene, but there are bands scattered throughout the rest of the country like the Star Devils, Buck Stevens and the Buck Shots, the Star Mountain Dreamers, etc..
It’s very difficult to tour most of the country as the opportunity make enough money to pay for the tours are very limited. Hopefully some inroads will be made soon and get the bands coming through our area on a regular basis. I’ve done some promotion and won’t book shows if I don’t think that I can fairly compensate the acts for their performance... also won’t make promises I can’t keep either.

Tell us more about your first album «Hop and Bop»...
We recorded «Hop and Bop» in two sessions at a local recorded studio called Woodshed Studios. It’s run by a good friend and musician Tim Pak. We recorded live using analog equipment and ribbon mics. We tried to get that live 50’s sound like you hear on Sun, Meteor or Mercury rockabilly recordings.

Why beeing produced by the «El Toro» spanish label ?
We actually produced and recorded the record ourselves, but released it on El Toro. We needed a way to distribute the record and Carlos does a great job of putting his bands out there and getting them heard.

What are the most memorable gigs you played and/or went to ?
As a musician, the most fun I can recall having at a gig recently was at the High Rockabilly Weekend in September of 2004. Boy was that ever a fun party!
As a fan, I think the first Green Bay weekender was just many artists in one place at one time. It was almost like a dream. I’m looking forward to playing there this time around?!

Talking about Green Bay, did you meet «legends» there you’ve always wanted to meet ?
I did get a chance to talk to a few of the «legends», but I think I spent most of my time getting crazy with my contemporaries !!! It was a wild party that lasted a long week.

When can we expect a new release ?
We’re busy working on new songs and hope to have some new recordings put together as soon as we can get ourselves back in the studio.

A last word ?
I’d just like to say thanks to you and to everyone out there who bought the Hi-Q’s CD and contributes to Planet Rockabilly?!