Extended Cut of The Matt Pond & Rocky Votolato Feature From The Inlander

*Sometimes when I’m writing a feature for The Inlander my rough draft is about twice as long as the print word count limitations but I really like it. This is one of those times. So here’s the extended version of my feature on Matt Pond & Rocky Votolato’s musical friendship.*

Sticks and Stones

Matt Pond and Rocky Votolato are bound by their love for songwriting. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t rough patches.

Three minutes before I’m set to interview with singer-songwriters Matt Pond (PA) and Rocky Votolato, I receive an e-mail saying they won’t be doing the interview together, after all. They’re traveling to the next stop on their co-headlining tour in separate vehicles.

That seems odd: The point of talking to them was to explore their musical friendship. After all, the two are on their second tour together this year. But separate interviews still works.

I talk to Pond first, and it’s clear what’s on his mind: his broken leg. While loading out gear after the fourth show of the tour in Pontiac, Mich., Pond suffered a spiral fracture that completely severed both his tibia and fibula.

Pond is first up and it’s clear what’s on his mind – his broken leg. While loading out gear after the fourth show of the tour in Pontiac, Mich., Pond broke his leg. Or perhaps that’s underselling it. He destroyed his leg. He suffered a spiral fracture that completely severed both his tibia and fibula which twisted the leg backward.

“It wasn’t some gloriously drunken or exciting adventure,” says Pond. “It was simple. I tripped and someone, I pulled them down onto me, and basically their knee went right through my leg. It was gross. I had a surgery. I have a lot of rods and pins now.”

He seems like he’s trying to push the pain from his mind, though. His comments drift to the astounding number of dragonflies in the fields they’re driving through. But he also might be trying to distract his mind from another byproduct of the broken bones, one that becomes clear once the next call begins.

After some idle chatter about what Matt and I had discussed, specifically the broken leg, Votolato is more directly open about why today’s interview became today’s interviews.

“Did he tell you that’s pretty much why we’re in separate cars today?” Votolato asks.

Turns out it was a tense morning in the Pond/Votolato camp. A detail which I probably should’ve picked up on after Pond’s description of what character trait draw the two together.

“Rocky and I both have a temper,” says Pond. “I think it’s a good thing. It is one huge struggle to play music and continue to play music. You need to have fire in your belly if you want to do this. I like that about him and appreciate that about myself. We look at things a lot of the same ways. But it’s hard to have so much fire in your stomach sometimes.”

“We’re both very passionate people; I guess I’ll just put it that way,” says Votolato. “When shit gets heavy, we can definitely blow up.”

“Touring is difficult as it is,” he continues. “And then when somebody breaks their leg and there’s a medical problem… it’s been very challenging for both of us. But I love Matt to death and care about him as a friend. And I just don’t want him to have a long-term medical problem from just trying to finish the tour. I’m really proud of him that he’s been able to play the shows and keep getting on stage.”

Stepping back from the drama of the day, it’s clear to see that the musicians are kindred spirits. They share the same birthday (March 8) and speak in equally admiring terms about the other’s music. They’re simpatico, both personally and audibly.

“We have a mutual respect for each other’s music,” says Votolato, “really that’s what it kinda comes down to. We got along personally too, but I really dig his songwriting.” Continue reading