Matt Toka: Hardships, Illustrations and Juggalos

matt-toka-interview-2012Thanksgiving came and went and the only highlight was oogling one hot guy at the dinner table (no worries, we’re not related and I don’t have the balls to even approach). Once the turkey was done I headed to five straight days of New Found Glory from San Francisco to LA to Vegas, and everything in between (last time I’ll mention it, I swear). My mind had yet to adjust back into my blogging mode and traffic was iffy so I didn’t expect to make it back to my hermit reality this week. I was also unsure if I’d make it back in time to talk with Matt Toka, so we settled on an email interview…Well at least half of us did. I ended up getting a call and was not prepared, but thankfully he was cool and we chatted a bit about meth and Insane Clown Posse, which are one in the same though, right?

One glance at Matt Toka and you’d just assume he was some punk kid with not much to say but a story of how Green Day was his muse. Well he does love Green Day, but that’s beside the point. Matt also loves Miles Davis, traded in drawing for a guitar and due to his time playing on Hollywood Blvd amongst the sea of mediocre characters, he’ll forever wonder if the money he’s handling has been near “Superman’s” junk. Matt also doesn’t understand the whole “sell out,” thing and is proud of his achievements, which he should be. He did Warped Tour this past summer, opened up for The All-American Rejects and even switches it up opening for I See Stars and Alternative Press’ “Artist of the Year,” Falling In Reverse in Pomona, CA at the Fox Theater on December 1st. So keep reading on to learn more about Matt Toka and his past, present and future.

Kendra: You didn’t have the ideal childhood growing up. Back then did you think that you’d ever break out of that household and make it somewhere?

Matt Toka: That’s a good question, I think I was so consumed with the bullshit that was going on, I didn’t really see a future. I couldn’t really see what it could be. I always wanted to be out in California but I didn’t actually think that would happen, that I’d just pick up and fucking leave. My family fell apart and I didn’t really have anything left. I lost my record deal and that was pretty fucked up so I figured I’d get my act together and that kind of forced me to move to California. I guess that it’s probably a better thing that living in Ohio.

Kendra: How did you allow yourself not to be defined by your past, or do you think you are in a way?

Matt: Like everybody I got roots, but I think that I make an effort to not make the same mistakes that I saw my family make. Not to go too deep into it, but I didn’t want to repeat the cycle. So I try to make more of a valiant effort as oppose to using substances.

Kendra: Did you ever think that you’d slip up?

Matt: I mean I probably did slip up. I’m human; I’m not like killing people or hacking people up. I don’t think I’m too much of an asshole but I’m human I’ve made mistakes. And I have no regrets and I’m proud of who I am, and the mistakes I’ve made before have been learning experiences.

Kendra: I think everyone in music has that one album or artist that got them through a hard time, and for you it was obviously Green Day. What was it about Dookie that you held so dear?

Matt: Before I heard Dookie, music was always big in my family’s house and my parents listened to a lot of Pearl Jam and my dad was into Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan. So music was always there because my parents were so into it. They hated Green Day and I was kind of like, fuck it, I kind of like this. Once I got the album I became really, really obsessed with it. It got awesome because it felt like my own band and I think through that that was the first time when I was able to kind of escape through music and I liked it. It took me out. If I was in a bad mood, it helped. It would put me in a whole different world and I’d get lost in it. I loved it; I wanted to be involved with it in any way possible.

Kendra: Moving from music for a little, kind of, you were recently a Juggalo for Halloween…Was that inspired by your Midwest upbringing?

Matt: I think so, yeah. A lot of people dressed up like Juggalos on Spirit Day in my high school and it wasn’t even fucking Halloween. People, that’s what they were into. I always thought that culture was interesting to say the least and I never experienced it…I mean I think it’d be fun to dress up like a Juggalo and go to an ICP concert. You know I’m not blasting that shit and singing in the shower, but I think that’d be a fun experience. But yeah, randomly I was like fuck it, my hair’s green. I kind of look like a fucking clown so might as well throw some make-up on. If you’re going to look like a clown,  might as well represent ICP.

Kendra: Another non-musical note, those little drawings on your site…What are those all about?

Matt: I started doing drawings on Warped Tour and actually I used to draw a lot. Before I got into music, I’d draw constantly. Then I got a guitar and I got out of it. I was obsessed. As a little kid I’d always fucking draw. Music was kind of a distraction, I mean a good distraction. Randomly I was just kind of bored and was like fuck on Instagram and I wanted people to know what time my set is every single day since you don’t know until that morning. I don’t really know until that morning at like 10am and I was like okay I could tweet about it, but I have all these followers on Instagram. So I was like how can I visually put it out. So I started drawing dicks for my set times and from there it just grew. I was so surprised. It’s been a lot of fun for me and has gotten a great response.

Kendra: Now back to the music…Do you have to change up your set or mindset going from opening for The All-American Rejects to Falling In Reverse at all?

Matt: I do and I enjoy it because I love touring with different bands because I can show different sides of me. With All American Rejects I’d throw an acoustic song in the set, where with Falling In Reverse I’ll throw a Metallica song in the set.

Kendra: Do you have your own tour plans coming up?

Matt: Not yet. I think I’m going to keep trying to be a mooch on some more tours for a bit, build a fan base proper and then I’ll start headlining.

Kendra: I want your top 5 songs for a mixtape that’d go to a kid who’s dealing with hardships at home, go!

NOFX “My Orphan Year
Everclear “Why I Don’t Believe in God
Blink 182 “Stay Together for the Kids
The Offspring  “The Kids Aren’t Alright
Green Days “Burn Out



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