Chit chat: Strummin' Home
Batavia native to perform with Avon Dale at Kiss The Sky
Avon Dale guitarist Matt McCarter hopes to see some friendly faces in the crowd when his band plays at Kiss The Sky record store in Batavia later this month.
McCarter, 24, who now lives in Memphis, Tenn., was born and raised in Batavia and is a 2008 Batavia High School graduate. Avon Dale will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 29, at Kiss The Sky, 180 W. First St., Batavia, as part of the store’s “Live From Kiss The Sky” music series.
More information is available by visiting Kiss The Sky’s website, www.kissthesky.net.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to McCarter about the band and the upcoming show.
Eric Schelkopf: You must be pretty excited about the upcoming show.
Matt McCarter: We’re very excited to return to Batavia, not only to see friends and family, but it will be great to come back home and kind of take what we developed down in Memphis and bring it back up to Batavia.
Schelkopf: You guys have a busy summer. Your summer tour goes from Thursday, June 12, until Thursday, July 24. Is that where you guys love to be, on the road?
McCarter: Since I teach full time and our drummer also teaches full time, we really haven’t had the opportunity to do that long stretch on the road. So this will be the first time that we really have that good chunk of time off.
We’re really excited. We haven’t really done anything like it, so it’s a big step for the band.
Schelkopf: I understand Avon Dale formed while you were attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
McCarter: It started as a collaboration between Conrad Polz and I, the other guitarist in the band.
I spent some time at my lake house for a summer, and I recorded an acoustic demo and brought it back to school. Alec Heist (our drummer), was in the teaching program with me and he had heard it, and that’s what kind of got him to bring down his drums.
Schelkopf: And I understand that none of you actually read music.
McCarter: It’s all through our own. Conrad and I kind of helped each other learn guitar and songwriting.
I was an athlete all through high school and at the University of Illinois, I was on the wrestling team, and that’s where I met Conrad.
Schelkopf: I understand the band is named after the street where you and Conrad first started writing songs.
McCarter: Conrad’s parents had owned a house on Avondale Avenue, just off campus. That’s where we first started writing songs, on Conrad’s roof.
Schelkopf: You guys kind of dip into different genres – rock, blues, soul. Who are some of your musical inspirations?
McCarter: We draw from several different inspirations. I know Alec is a big Dave Matthews fan. Conrad and myself draw from various influences, people like Van Morrison and maybe a little bit of Kings of Leon, as well.
Schelkopf: You have added a fourth member, Andrew Allen, on bass.
McCarter: That was a component we thought we were always missing. He hopped right in, and has really enjoyed it.
Schelkopf: You’ve recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, where many famous bands have cut records over the years, including Led Zeppelin and The White Stripes. Did you feel a vibe when you were there?
McCarter: When you walk in there, everything just looks very retro. When we were in that studio, yeah, you could feel it.
When you are walking to the studio, you are walking by all the platinum records on the walls. You can really feel the history in the place. It was a surreal feeling being in there.
Once we come back from the tour, we plan to record some new material with Mike Wilson of Ardent Studios. We plan to do an EP of some of our songs, and then plan to do a full-length album.
Schelkopf: What is the chemistry like in the band?
McCarter: Everyone is determined. There’s a lot of determination and hard work in the band.