Don’t call Sciatic Nerve a “supergroup.” No, this new band from northern California that features members of the Swingin’ Utters, Nothington, Cobra Skulls, and Western Addiction prefer “veteran wine punk group,” as you can read below in our interview with lead singer Chris Matulich. But before you dive into the interview, check out the world premiere of the video for “Buy a Horse,” from the band’s self-titled debut, out next Friday the 13th on Anxious and Angry Records.
RF: So why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself?
CHRIS MATULICH: I’m Chris from Sciatic Nerve.
RF: And you’re the lead singer?
CM: Yeah I’m the lead singer.
RF: Cool. And basically Sciatic Nerve is, would you call yourselves a supergroup at this point?
CM: I mean, I don’t know, that seems kind of silly when people say that. But we’re four guys from other bands that have been playing around the punk music scene for the last 15 or so years. Definitely a veteran group.
RF: Okay so a veteran “wine punk group.”
CM: [laughs] Yeah the wine punk thing came from the fact that we all grew up in Santa Rosa, California, which is considered part of wine country. And we actually practice out in a barn that sits on some 100 acres of wineries and vineyards. That’s where that came from.
RF: This cool new music video that we’re premiering here is called “Buy a Horse,” and it almost looks like you were in a practice space in the video. Was it shot in the aforementioned barn?
CM: That was in a practice studio in San Francisco, so that’s not the barn. We were hoping to go up and shoot in the barn, but that’s all the way up in Healdsburg, so we don’t get up there very often anymore. But we recorded the record in the barn, I shouldn’t say we practiced there all the time. We recorded that album in the barn.
RF: What’s the whole story with “Buy a Horse?” I Googled “Buy a Horse,” and I think that your search result competition is pretty hilarious: Its people buying horses and selling horses. What’s the story behind the song?
CM: “Buy a Horse” was originally a quote from Dirty Work, a fine film starring Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange from the ’90s. There’s a point in the movie where they’re getting yelled at by one of the bosses, I think at the movie theater. And he tells Norm Macdonald that he has a personality like a dead moth, and that he should buy a horse and move to the mountains and stop bothering people. So that’s originally where that came from, and I just ran with it. You know, basically, everyone has a feeling sometimes of being fed up with the daily news, their job, the pains of living in society, whatnot. Sometimes you wish you could just buy a horse and move to the mountains, and forget about it all. That’s basically the theme of the song.
RF: That’s awesome to get that backstory. You’ve got the wine punk Santa Rosa feel and you’re all from the Bay. How long have you guys known each other; did you all meet at the same time or did you meet in phases? How did that all come together?
CM: We’ve all known each other for about 20 years. Since we were all in junior high, so I guess even longer than that because that’s when we were like 13 or something. I think that’s how old you are in junior high, so a pretty long time. And like I said we’ve all been playing bands for the last 15, 20 years. Doing a lot of touring, but all separately and in separate projects.
RF: Swingin’ Utters, you’re from The Nothing… how do you say your band name? “The Nothingtons?”
CM: “Nothington.” I’m from Nothington; Luke and Tony were both in Cobra Skulls. Luke plays drums in the Swingin’ Utters, yeah, and Tony Teixeira also played in Western Addiction. So yeah we’ve all spent time in fairly established touring bands over the last 10 or 15 years, but this is our first time all being in a band together at once. And it’s cool, since we’ve known each other for so long we have the same, uh not the same taste in music, but taste in music that allows us to collaborate very well together, so it’s fun.
RF: What are some of your memories if you ever made it to the Midwest or the Chicago punk scene? Like, did you ever make it to the Fireside Bowl? I know Swingin’ Utters has played here in Chicago many times, but do you have any memories of the Chicago punk scene from your experiences?
CM: Chicago has probably the strongest fanbase for Nothington in the United States, so from my experience the punk scene there is very strong. The same goes for Tony and Luke, who were in Cobra Skulls, and it was one of their strongholds as well. So I feel like it’s a well-established scene and the places I’ve been to are the Beat Kitchen and Subterranean. We just played Subterranean a couple months ago, it’s still awesome. I’ve played the Metro with my old band. So I think that’s about it, I know there are some other places, but they’re way far back from memory at this point.
RF: Yeah totally, the ’90s scene here was really awesome, and it’s only grown as a really supportive music community. I guess what I’m curious about also is with all of your histories as being established touring dudes and putting albums out, what’s your plan for this new album? Everyone’s really excited about it? Do you have touring plans? Do you have more cool videos? What’s next for you guys?
CM: Well, we don’t have any set touring plans as of yet. We’re kind of working on that, and right now we’re getting into the slow time of the holiday season and whatnot, so we’re starting to plan for next year. We’re all really excited about the project as band members. I hope other people will be, I guess we’ll see. We’re making an appearance for The Fest in Gainesville, which should be a good introduction to the band for a lot of people from around the U.S. that we haven’t been able to reach. Hopefully from there we can spring forward to some more tour plans in 2018.
RF: What’s the exact day that your album is going to drop?
CM: Album comes out Friday, October 13th.
RF: Nice, Friday the 13th!
CM: That’s right.
RF: With the sciatic nerve running down the left side of a person’s body, what’s the story behind the name in terms of, like, hitting a nerve, or touching a nerve, or was it just a random dictionary select?
CM: Well let me give you a funny story about a friend of ours who often complains about things. He was complaining about his sciatic nerve—he’s pretty young—and he also self-diagnoses himself with things all of the time. I don’t know if it was actually a sciatic nerve hurting him or what, but that’s what was decided. We thought it was funny, so we started making fun of him because we weren’t sure if it was true or not. You know, sciatic nerve pain isn’t really that funny actually, but the word “nerve” and the word “sciatic” just kind of sound really abrasive in punk. Yeah, it’s painful, it’s uncomfortable, and this music that we’re playing is kind of abrasive, so… I don’t know, there wasn’t a lot super serious thought that went into it. But that’s basically the backstory of it.
RF: So we have your hypochondriac friend to thank for the band name backstory now?
RF: What was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back that got all of you guys into that barn to actually start playing, and to go from talking about it and being pals for 15 years to doing something about it?
CM: Well the band kind of formed by accident—we actually didn’t plan it, we didn’t think about it, we didn’t talk about it. After the Cobra Skulls, Tony, Luke and Kyle (who plays bass) had a band that they started called Boys on the Wall. And I showed up at the studio to… Uh, I forget what I was doing there, but that’s not important. I was there hanging out and Devin, the singer of Boys on the Wall, was late, so Tony just started throwing out some song ideas that wouldn’t fit in that band, because they’re more of an alternative rock/punk kind of thing. So he wanted to play these fast aggressive songs for us, and Luke started playing drums, Kyle’s there playing bass, and I started throwing out vocal melodies. And so within an hour that day, waiting for Devin, we’ve already written like three songs. And we’re like “This is really fun, why didn’t we think of this before? Lets schedule another band practice!”
So we did, and before we knew it we had like 15 songs or something, and at that point we were all really excited about the songs that we were writing and we decided to go the next step and get in the barn and record it.
RF: It was serendipitous then.
CM: Yeah it was.
RF: That’s so special, that’s a special story.
RF: So how did you connect with Anxious and Angry Records?
CM: Ryan [Young, Anxious and Angry owner and singer of Off With Their Heads] and I have been really good friends for the last 10 years. Nothington started in 2007, and we ended up linking up with Off With Their Heads on one of the first tours that we ever did, and at this time we were just playing basements, bars and stuff in the Midwest. And while I didn’t really have too much of a grip on things over there, Ryan kind of guided the wing for us through it. So that’s how I established a relationship and trust with him, and we’ve been good friends ever since. He started the label, and he doesn’t do a lot of releases, but the ones he does are really good. And he only puts out things that he really likes and believes in. So when I sent him the songs, I was like “Hey, would you be interested in putting this out?” He immediately responded that he really liked it. I was excited, didn’t even talk to anyone else, just said “Yeah, let’s do this!”
RF: This is really a natural progression for all of you—you’re veteran musicians, you bumped into each other, the songs started flowing, you have one of your really good trusted pals putting the album out.
CM: I mean, when you put it that way, yeah. Everything has just fallen together, and we’re really excited to be in a band with friends, and putting out a record with someone we respect and count as a friend, so it’s cool.
RF: What do you guys hope to accomplish in the next year? Are you putting this out there and seeing where it lands, or are there things that you really, really want to do as a group to ride this wave?
CM: I think right now we’re not trying to set too many expectations. But we’re definitely open to opportunities when they come along, and I think ideally we’d love to be able to do all of the things, you know: Play all of the festivals, open for bands that we like, tour places like Europe, things like that. So all the good things will happen, I hope, and we’ll just see.
RF: How do you pronounce your last name?
RF: Matulich. When you Google Chris Matulich, its the Ruth Chris Steak House story. Have you seen that before? Have you Googled your name and seen that whole search result list?
CM: Yes, I certainly have.
RF: Is there any relation between you and Chris Matulich of the Ruth Chris Steak House?
CM: There’s not, and I’ve often wondered if I should go in there and pull some sort of scam. But I’m sure that they probably know that I’m not him.
RF: Any other parting words that you wanna share about the video, or about the Florida date that you have coming up, or about what format the album is coming out on, if people can pre-order it and so on?
CM: The album is available for pre-order on Anxious and Angry’s website. It comes in two colors of vinyl: sea foam green and a light pink color. It’s pretty cool. And we’ll be playing Fest at Durty Nelly’s on Saturday, October 28th.