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TNS is 10: Interview - Matt Zane

18th April 2013

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It's 2005, we're at Download Festival and we are watching Matt Zane from Society 1 perform a half hour set hanging from meat hooks through his back. 20 minutes later we're sat chatting back stage.....


Matt ZaneHave you played at Donington before? 

Zane: “Absolutely not, this is the first time and what a way to break into the Download Festival.” 

I suppose the question is. Why did you choose to break Download in such an extreme and obviously painful way? 

Zane: “Every year we do a suspension ritual, a suspension show. Last year it was in LA, we did three songs with the suspension it was the first time that I actually sang during a suspension. After I did that, I saw the DVD and wanted a way to top it and basically we were just looking for the right opportunity to do it. We got an opportunity from our agent that we could play on the main stage and we thought this could be it – we could cut down on two hooks to four hooks and do the whole set suspended and plus do it in front of 20,000 people.” 

How do you think the crowd reacted to such an extreme thing happening in front of them? 

Zane: “The first and foremost thing that people were worried about, the organisers and the label, was that Donington is very well known for throwing things, piss and shit, at the stage, stuff like that so we were kinda worried. Compared to the other acts on the main stage we’re practically unknown, I mean you take Papa Roach, System of a Down, Slipknot, these guys have sold millions and millions of records so we just thought that people would think that we deserved to be on there.

But once we got out there I think people we in awe, at first they didn’t know what to make of it but from then on there was a certain amount of respect for the amount of pain I was in and for what I was putting forth. Plus, I was just very appreciative that people were very into it and wanted to see what was going on. At the end of the show when I asked people to put their fists up in the air, there must have been 10,000 fists up in the air that’s great when probably only 1,000 of those people have our records.” 

Was there another reason for doing the suspension, other than to get yourself on the main stage? 

Zane: “There’s so many thing behind it, it’s kinda like, you have these artists that have gone before like Alice Cooper and Kiss, David Bowie who are very into theatrics, part of it was the beginning of shock-rock, people who we have based our dreams around in terms of rock n roll. But we are not just a mere imitation of these bands, I think we emulate them in some ways but pick up where they left off in a lot of ways. That’s what the suspensions about. If you want to think about it in symbolic terms I think of it as a sort of modern atonement, you know Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross to bridge the gap between man and god at the time. I suspend myself to bridge the gap between theatrics and rock, to make the audience feel the way those original kids must have done when they first saw Kiss. But you know a Kiss rip off bad wouldn’t do it now days, but Society 1 would as we proved today.” 

How difficult is it to perform whilst suspended? 

Zane: “It’s very difficult you have a lot of things to contend with. The first is that you are in pain, you have to think am I singing in key, am I singing sharp because when you’re in sharp you tend to yell louder. The second issue is that you get really dizzy swinging around up there, you have an issue with dizziness and pain straight off the bat then you get the visual height, when you look out at parts of the show and you’re 15 feet up in the air or your 30 feet above the crowd you know just thinking the only thing that’s holding me up right now is four meat-hooks in my back. The possibility of tearing is a great possibility, you have to sign a waiver before you do stuff like that and that’s it and any time you could go. So you have a fear issue, a pain issue and disorientation to deal with, so it’s not the easiest thing in the world. Hey, if it was someone would have done it before me, I’m the first guy that’s it, there’s no-one else. There are other people that suspend, there are other people that sing, but no-one suspends and sings – it doesn’t happen, until now.” 

Who’s idea was the spinning around whilst you were up there? 

Zane: “The thing was, you have a choice when you suspend you can basically just go up there and sit there suspending and that’s what everyone thinks I do when I go up there. When we did the first suspension back in the States last year I remember doing when little swing and I remember being a little disappointed because it wasn’t as exciting as it could be. So this time around we just wanted to make it just so extreme and just so exciting that it just never ended. The only time we slowed down on the spinning was during a slow song that we have and that was only because it’s so difficult for me to sing, because of the vocal range. Other than that we just went for it. I told the rigger, just go for it, I don’t give a fuck, if I pass out just revive me, we’re going to do this today we’re going to do something special.” 

How relieved were you when the set was finished and you could be let down? 

Zane: “I was relieved but I was also sad because it was over, you go through so much fear and preparation for something like this and before you know it it’s here and then you’re in the middle of it  and then it’s gone. It’s not like it went by in a flash, I was in so much pain it kept me very conscious of what was going on, I can remember every single moment of that performance. It’s over now, it’s one of the greatest days of my life, to come over to the UK life this to play in front of 20,000 people on this momentous occasion and be received this way. None of the bands are going to top this, not even the biggest band on this bill can’t top this.”

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