Scott Mathews Biography:
Scott Mathews was born in Sacramento, California on July 25, 1955, the same day that the world's first test tube baby was developed in England.
Tenor banjo was the instrument of choice at age 6 but it was not long before he figured out how to unscrew the neck and make the banjo a fair-sounding drum. At age 8, Scott was performing semiprofessionally with his first band, which consisted of only one other member, his future brother-in-law, an electric accordion player. Butchering mostly surf instrumentals with the occasional squeaky vocal, the band actually made money and showed wise show biz savvy by spending all their cash on fashionable threads their mothers would never think of buying them, such as dark lensed granny glasses and turtleneck dickeys.
Scott began writing songs on piano at age 9 after taking lessons from a blind elder who hated rock and roll. The debut song was entitled Surf Hog and Scott taught his father Tom one vocal part while he sang another. Finding his way around on different instruments was not a problem, finding other musicians to work with proved not quite as easy.
Scott began playing guitar in bands at age 12 mainly because drummers outnumbered 'musicians' in his neighborhood by about 3:1. Diving into a deeper talent pool in high school, he went back to drums and began playing in popular local bands while continuing to write on guitar and making daily visits the new Tower Records store (the second one built) a short bike ride away from his home. Making friends with the owners, he was allowed to take stacks of records home, listen to them and bring the lousy ones back for full credit. He scoured the bins of every style while listening to all releases in the rock and soul vein. Being a rabid record fan and collector,he was more interested in the writers, producers, engineers and people behind the scenes as opposed to who's picture was on the covers and was determined to dissect the sounds of great records to find out what made them tick.
At age 15, he played the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco with blues legend, Elvin Bishop who had seen Scott perform in Sacramento. Later that year one of his band members that owned the band van drove the group to Los Angeles where they literally walked along Sunset Boulevard and stopped at every business that had the word 'music' in it's name and asked for an audition based on a cassette recording of the band's live set. The one and only door that opened to them was from the one and only, Barry White.
Sitting around a large desk, behind which sat an even larger man, Barry White put in the tape and closed his eyes as he listened. He cut off the music a minute or so into the first song and in a bass voice that resonated like God, asked; "Who's the drummer?" Scott raised his shaky hand and spoke, "Me...Mr. White." At which point Barry broke into a huge smile, and said, "Right on." Scott had been sanctified.
Around this time, Scott Mathews developed an artistic fixation with Polynesian Tiki art and began sculpting statues out of redwood railroad ties. He won first place in his school district with a self-portrait Tiki (complete with a recently broken nose) which automatically entered him into the California State Fair. Ronald Reagan was then the Governor of California and the final judge for the exhibit. Reagan presented Scott with the first place blue ribbon and soon left California for the White House where he immediately slashed government grant funds for the arts.
Scott hooked up with singer Steve Perry at age 16 and began writing songs and building a band around Steve's voice. The band, Ice, earned a solid reputation and eventually spent two weeks in Los Angeles' famed Record Plant Studios recording during the day while Stevie Wonder recorded his breakthrough record Talking Book by night. Scott was asked if it would be OK for Stevie to use his drums since they were set up and the ecstatic youngster agreed. To this day when Superstition comes on the radio, Scott feels a certain glow hearing his drums (played by Wonder) as the intro to the song.
Realizing the studio was an environment more conducive to creative discovery than any bar he had played (musically speaking, of course), Scott went full speed into with plans to make recording his vocation. He took crash courses from members of the symphony to learn how to read and write charts for the studio. He also met with his high school counselor and invited her to a gig (he was playing every night until 2:00AM at this point). When she saw it was clear Scott was ready to move on, she put together a rigorous schedule of courses and tests to allow Scott to graduate early from high school. Lord almighty, free at last!
Setting his sights on Los Angeles, Scott Mathews was fortunate to run into session guitarist great, John Blakeley from San Francisco. Blakeley had composed and performed the original soundtrack to the breakthrough surf film classic, The Endless Summer in the early 60s which was more important than Citizen Cane for a kid from landlocked Sacramento. Through Blakeley's contacts, session work in San Francisco happened overnight for Scott and it wasn't long before he met Ron Nagle, a hilarious songriter/producer/ceramist/genius.
Scott packed his Volkswagen van full of every instrument he had and drove 100 miles to meet with Nagle because he thought it was cool that a guy as actually building a recording studio in his house, not exactly the norm for 1974. Nagle was not the norm on any level and a partnership was established between Nagle and Mathews as songwriter and aspiring record producers called Proud Pork Productions.
Songs were written and recorded in The Pig Pen (Nagle's home studio) and songs were being covered by artists from every genre. Scott was slightly taken aback when they got word through their friend and champion, Jack Nitzsche (better known to them as Godfather) that Barbra Streisand was interested in recording their material. "It wasn't the same thrill as hearing Al Green was interested, but it did build us a lovely new studio." It also provided the 21 year-old with his first of many platinum records.
By 1977, Scott was working constantly with Ron in their new studio on top of Bernal Heights that had panoramic views of San Francisco and was designed like one of Nagles' art pieces. They both took residences that flanked the studio, resulting in a compound where they would meet in the middle to work day or night. The result was not only were the songs being covered, but the production duo was being asked to take part in the recording of the records so that they would sound like the original demos that Mathews and Nagle had always referred to as blueprints.
When Nitzsche inked a production deal at Capitol Records, it was often Ron and Scott that he went to for the artists to sign. After recommending projects that worked, it made sense to Scott to go to the same well and ask for a similar production deal for Ron and himself. Eventually, it made sense to Capitol to sign the duo but the twist was the label viewed them as artists as well as writers and producers. Under the band name, The Durocs (named after a breed of hog known for being great producers with exceptionally large ears and genitals) they blended a musical style that was not New Wave like most things on the radio then (no skinny ties, no hopping) but did became an international success (top ten in areas of Europe). Given their adamant resistance to touring or promoting the record when they could be in the studio making more music, they found little love in the US outside of the 'critics corner' (4 Stars, Rolling Stone; Best Debut Album, BAM). Instead of forming a band, they worked with film makers and helped establish a video department at Capitol. Sadly, MTV was a year or so away in the future and when meeting with their new A&R executive at Capitol that suggested they 'go jazz', The Durocs headed back to the hills of San Francisco and continued writing and producing for other artists throughout the 80s. There was no jazz involved.
While Nagles' world renowned art career was increasingly becoming his main focus, Scott was constantly sought after for studio work throughout the 80s. Finding himself working with many of the greatest artists in the world, in the finest studios ever built—his heroes were becoming his friends. The best example of that was in the case of The Beach Boys. Being big fans of The Durocs, they found Scott's abilities, instincts and enthusiasm to be a good way to bring Brian back into the studio to write, produce and reclaim his place as band leader and resident genius. It was reported that Scott had officially replaced Dennis Wilson as a full-time member but in reality he had no more intentions of touring with the likes of Mike Love than Brian Wilson did. His close bond and friendship with Carl Wilson was a treasured one and continued until his untimely passing in 1997. Scott says, "Carl not only sang like an angel, he was one."
In 1991, Scott moved across the Golden Gate to Mill Valley and established Hit or Myth Productions. The emphasis for the new company was to have its own A&R staff with trusted ears and vision focused on finding and developing emerging artists. Acknowledging that record labels were no longer in the business of development and less and less supportive to artists wanting to have creative control of their own music, Hit or Myth was a place to make finished records that artists could be proud of and establish long lasting careers with. Another purpose was to provide artists a way to hold on to 100% of the rights to their master recordings and publishing, both valuable assets that should be regarded as the artist's future income.
In the same year, Hit or Myth Productions built TikiTown as an oasis for recording artists to experience the best of both worlds, the most sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment (vintage & newest) in an atmosphere full of creature comforts one would find in a nice very home in one of the most inspiring areas anywhere in the world. Van Morrison was the first artist to jump. He even had a gym constructed at TikiTown so he could get his workouts in.
The 2000s have brought more hits in areas all over the world and established many emerging artists and as the old model of record company distribution fades away, they are finding new ways of building careers and making hits without the aid of record companies. At a recent music business conference in Los Angeles Scott Mathews said; "As far as our companies' affiliation with labels goes, it's not a matter of us and them. There are still some dedicated ground troops at major labels that care about music, artists and long standing careers—they aren't in the war room with the company's shareholders but their bosses are! The truth is, if you are not independent, you are dependent."
When answering how he's been able to sustain success in the ever-changing and competitive world of music, Scott Mathews responded with, "I'm touching wood as I say this...people love the records I make with them and I love the people I make them with."