The Matadors are one of Ontario’s most infamous underground punk rock acts. Dubbing themselves as horrorbilly, an offshoot of psychobilly that they maintain they created, their mix of energetic live performances and uncouth lyrics have served to entertain and piss off people across the country for the last two decades. I caught up with frontman and mastermind Joel “Hooch” Parkins before their performance at Underworld, and we dished about everything from praising Satan to public masturbation.
So you guys have a new album out called Say You Love Satan…which you really seem to. Can you tell me about the Lucifarian Brotherhood of Baphomet?
A long time ago we were just your average shitty rockabilly band playing in rural Ontario. We got really good at it, and we were approached by this group called the Lucifarian Brotherhood of Baphoment, who asked if I’d be willing to sell my soul in exchange for super human powers. I took the deal, and now we play Lucifarian gospel music.
This obviously ties into horrorbilly, a style which you say you invented. Can you tell me a bit about that?
I thought I’d invented the concept of horror-themed music with upright bass. What did I know? Then people started showing me The Meteors and The Brains and other real psychobilly bands, and they were like, “No, you idiot, this is already a thing.” I listened to those bands and felt that it would be disrespectful to them to call ourselves that as well, because what we were doing was really more blues and humor oriented.
Can you tell me a little bit about your live show? I’ve never seen it, but I hear it’s something unique.
It is crazy, things get really nuts. It’s a really hot, fast, sweaty show. Eight bars into it, men and women alike just start furiously masturbating. They are just so attracted to the music, the band, and mostly to me. Things just get really wet.
After masturbating you usually get kind of like a “Yuck, what did I just do?” thing going on. Does that happen a lot?
No, mostly people just come up to me and say things like, “Thank you, I needed to experience that. I really needed to do horrible, dirty things to myself. Thank you. Please don’t touch me.”
It’s great that you give people that outlet.
I’m a really fucking nice guy.
You seem like it. So, last year you caused a lot of controversy by trying to dress up as Jimmy Hendrix, complete with blackface…
I got the afro wrong, I realize that now. But look, I have a lot of costumes at home. I love to cosplay. Tonight I’ve got a whole Elton John thing going on. I’ll say this on record: I haven’t apologized for that and I never will. That’s the world that I’m from and I thought, and still think, that I was legit to do that. It’s cosplay. You’re honoring the character. People say that when you wear makeup you reduce race to a costume and you’re demeaning it. It’s a stereotype that’s existed for a long time that people need to get past.
So, do you think this is something you’d try again?
Oh yeah, man. Next year I`m gonna have half my body be Lionel Ritchie and the other half Diana Ross. The year after I’m gonna have a whole puppet show going and I’m gonna be the Jackson Five. Then, after that, I’m gonna be the entire starting line of the 1992 Detroit Pistons.
You guys obviously have a lot of plans for the future. Have you been touring a lot for this album?
Your website lists the most recent performance as August 2nd, but obviously you’ve played since then and will continue to play. What’s up with that?
Drummer: I’ll get right on that tonight.
How long have you been doing this?
This’ll be my twentieth year doing The Matadors.
And you’re six albums in. What keeps you going?
I have a lot of people to pay. I’m not qualified to do anything else. You know when you were a kid and you were playing hockey and hanging out with girls? Well, all I had was guitar. It’s my only sellable commodity.
You’re really good at it, if you don’t mind me saying.
I am exceptional at it. Let’s call a spade a spade.
Your music isn’t for the faint of heart, though.
I don’t think it’s that extreme. We’re not like GWAR, singing about baby rape.
Sure, but you approach taboo subjects with kind of a light-hearted spin.
I think it’s adorable that you think anything is taboo anymore. Is Satan taboo? The only people I know who are offended right now are super sensitive people. People get so angry at this little guy who plays in a nobody punk rock band. I’m not trying to be some huge rock star guy.
They say any press is good press, though.
That’s a fucking lie. I think it sucks when people go, “Well, he just goes around hurting people.” It’s bullshit.
Do you think that hurts the number of people who come to your shows?
No, we do pretty well no matter what. We’re pretty lucky. Nobody comes to a Matadors show thinking we have a huge social conscience and that we’re gonna right all the wrongs. They know we’re gonna sing songs about the devil and booze and titties. They expect people to get wasted and go wild and leave smiling. Somebody has to do that job.
So, there you have it from Hooch’s own mouth – the real truth about the infamous Matadors. If you want to know what I thought of their live show, check out my review. If you want to hear what The Matadors sound like for yourself, I encourage you to check out their bandcamp, where you can stream their new album in full.
Written and Compiled by Syd Ghan