Matt O'Ree

He's toured with Bon Jovi, recorded with Bruce Springsteen, and named King of the Blues by B.B. King. Matt O'Ree now has a great new album, YouTube video series, and soon-to-be Mrs. O'Ree.

Matt O'Ree

Matt O'Ree has long established himself as one of the top guitar talents to come out of New Jersey. Starting his career as an aspiring bluesman, he had his first taste of national exposure in 2006 when he won Guitar Center's Guitarmageddon King of the Blues, besting a field of 4,000 guitarists to earn the crown from the legendary B.B. King. That huge success so early in his career was just the beginning.

In 2015, O'Ree made international news once again when he was announced as the touring guitarist on Bon Jovi's tour of South Asia. Having the opportunity to jet around Asia as part of one of the world's greatest touring bands gave O'Ree exposure to a new audience, and was part of his long-time friendship with Bon Jovi's keyboardist David Bryan.

With all of his prior successes, sharing stages with the greatest names in blues and rock, it's hard to believe that 2017 has been Matt's best year yet. At the end of 2016, The Matt O'Ree Band released their very long-awaited fifth album, "Brotherhood". Over two years in production, the lead single, "Black Boots," features Bruce Springsteen on guitar and lead vocals. Ironically, the relationship with the Boss began in 2006, when Springsteen's wife Patti Scialfa contacted O'Ree after the contest, and asked him about giving guitar lessons to their son. After being Sam Springsteen's teacher for many years, O'Ree found out that the younger Springsteen had taken one of O'Ree's songs to Bruce, who loved the track. One big gut check later, O'Ree had the chance to ask Bruce if he'd like to perform on the track, and the rest is studio history.

Just how important was winning King of the Blues in Matt's life? Shortly after winning the title in 2006, he was playing a show at an Asbury Park club called The Wonder Bar. A shy, pretty singer named Eyrn Shewell was also perfoming that night and decided to introduce herself and congratulate Matt on his win. Ten years later, two days before Christmas 2016, on that same Wonder Bar stage, Matt proposed to Eryn, and they are set to be married in September.

In between all of the great things going on with Matt, we wanted to chat with him about "Brotherhood" and his new GearTorial video series. In each weekly GearTorial, he discusses some of the gear he used on the Bon Jovi tour, and in recording the latest album, sharing insights into how he achives his amazing tone both live and in the studio. The first episode of GearTorial is embedded at the end of his article, and you can watch the full series at www.mattoreeband.com.

How did the idea for your GearTorial video series come about? How did you come up with the topic and content for each episode?

As a guitar tone chaser, I've managed to collect quite a few guitars, amps, cabinets, and pedals. One morning I asked myself, why am I not sharing this with the YouTube community? So I worked on an outline of all the different topics I could turn into interesting episodes. I wanted to tie in the release of a new website and my new record, "Brotherhood," to draw more attention to them as well through the videos. Also, being a guitar teacher for many years, I wanted to make the series educational for those who aren't educated in the equipment I demonstrate.

What can people who love music, but aren't professional musicians, get out of watching your GearTorial videos? Is there anything you'd like fans to understand about what goes into achieving your sound that they may not realize?

I hope that they gain some inside information on how all these guitar sounds are made. Especially the Hendrix segment that is coming out now. Episode 9, 10, and 11. Everyone today is familiar with Jimi, but not everyone knows how he made his guitar sound like that. I hope the fans look at guitar sounds a bit differently after watching my series. There's so much that goes into a guitar tone that created the songs that we all love. It's a ton of work for sure.

Talk about your new CD, "Brotherhood". What is some of the gear used most prominently on the record? Are there any tracks where the sound of the song was really affected by changing some piece of equipment or adding an effect?

All of my Trainwreck amps were used to record the record. Had a blast doing it. Guitars that I used were my custom shop Gibson Les Pauls, a custom made double neck 12/6-string guitar, Danelectro 6-string, and a D45 Martin acoustic. There's a song called "Life" where I used my 1969 Univibe pedal. Jimi used this a ton for the last year of his career. I used it on the solo section and it just really made the song happen. Episode 9 is completely about this unit. That was a real fun episode for me.

The lead single off the album is getting the most attention, but is there another song you're really proud of that you hope listeners will connect with?

Sure. Yes, having Bruce Springsteen sing the song with me was super cool. The other song I really love is the closing track, "December Gray". I just love the composition on that one and all the layered guitar tracks I did on it. It really has an emotional feel to it.

"Brotherhood" features three high-profile collaborators. Did the tracks they worked on turn out differently than if you had worked on them on your own, and how has working with other artists shaped your own sound?

It's always great to work with other artists, especially guys like Bruce, David, and Steve! Actually, they all added so much that it made the songs even better. Their talents really shine on those tracks. A real honor for me.

What's next for MOB for the rest of 2017, and what are some of the next goals that you're setting for yourself?

Keep on playing and spreading the word about the new record for now. I do have some thoughts about what I want to achieve musically next. We'll see how it goes. With the industry changing so much, we'll see what the future brings as far as doing full records or just releasing singles. Stay tuned on www.mattoreeband.com for all the latest info!

www.mattoreeband.com

Watch "Episode 1 - From the Beginning - Trainwreck Amplifiers" from Matt O'Ree's GearTorial video series.

Matt O'Ree Photo Credit: COUCOU Photography

Matt Mrowicki
Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing.
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