Cracking Up

An hour with Matgo Primo proves almost as entertaining as their rollicking shows

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And for all its members' frivolity, Matgo Primo makes truly captivating pop, upbeat and rough around the edges for the most part, but sprinkled with synthetic space-outs likening it to glam rock. Eisenberg's lyrics are indeed the driving force, and some songs are moody and metaphorical, while others are more like personal narratives. The instrumentals are guitar-heavy in a good, trippy way—just enough energy, while not overpowering the lyrics or the senses.

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It's easy to pick out Tim Eisinger, lead singer and guitarist of local band Matgo Primo from the small crowd at Old City Java. He sits, wide-eyed, a loud '70s-looking button-down clinging to his thin frame, his hair dyed orangey-pink. He munches on strips of red bell pepper from a free buffet for some other band's CD release show. Apparently, he doesn't eat his veggies that often because the other band members start teasing him when they show up. "Well, we normally go for our sacks of meat ," he responds before moving on to some pineapple chunks.

The conversation and the band itself is just plain goofy. This attribute can sometimes be annoying in a band, but that isn't the case with Matgo Primo. They go off on tangents, and I sometimes feel like a second-grade teacher trying to wrangle their attention, but they make up for it in candor and Beavis and Butthead-like humor.

The teasing is constant, but it becomes evident that it's one of those "you only tease the ones you love" things. Tim's brother, the band's drummer Greg Eisinger, says sarcastically of their move to Knoxville from Chicago a few years ago, "Tim came down here with a vision of a band and proceeded to assemble us as he saw fit." Tim starts to shift uncomfortably in his chair muttering, "Um that's not exactly how it happened you guys are the only ones that would play with me."

Indeed, guitarist and keyboardist Dorian DeLuca confirms, "Tim had put up a note at the Tomato Head where I worked that said, 'I need a band.' I finally got around to calling him, more out of pity than anything else."

But the band has been together almost two years, so there must be something there besides pity. And soon the teasing turns to adoration, when DeLuca, amidst the flurry of jocular insults and cracks of wit, says, "Part of the reason we all get along is because Tim is a creative genius." For a moment it's quiet, and Tim looks down at his hands.

"Our music is very lyrically driven and that's good because Tim's lyrics are amazing," DeLuca explains. "Even if I wasn't in a band with him, I would think that."

And for all its members' frivolity, Matgo Primo makes truly captivating pop, upbeat and rough around the edges for the most part, but sprinkled with synthetic space-outs likening it to glam rock. Eisenberg's lyrics are indeed the driving force, and some songs are moody and metaphorical, while others are more like personal narratives. The instrumentals are guitar-heavy in a good, trippy way—just enough energy, while not overpowering the lyrics or the senses.

Another way Matgo strokes the senses is by dressing to the nines for its live shows. Looking like they've raided the closet of a circus troupe and had their make-up done by Tammy Faye Baker on LSD, they add a visual decadence to the performance. "We're not like those metal bands that thrash around on stage, so we dress flashy to give the audience something to look at," says bassist Ryan Rickels. Tim pipes up to liken their whimsical wardrobe choices to a line from the movie Velvet Goldmine : "Music is a whore, and it needs to be prettied up a bit."

Maybe so, but the folks at El Deth, a local recording company that has been steadily gaining clout over the past year or so, liked Matgo's music even in the raw. After recording a track for an El Deth compilation with other artists, the band signed on to record its first full-length album, which they expect to release sometime this year. Like other artists working with El Deth, Matgo's members rave about how great they are to work with. "It's nice because they're doing everything for free. We thought that might be limiting, but they seem to be willing to spend the rest of eternity doing this," says Tim.

As the hot teas dwindle to the dregs, Java fills up with concert-goers, and the boys become too rowdy to even try to follow. But then again, as their repartee implies, why take yourself seriously? Greg: "Yeah, we tend to be cocky and giddy." Dorian: "We like us." Tim: "Yeah, I'm really into us."

Who: Matgo Primo with I Need Sleep and The Weekends

When: Saturday, April 9, 9 p.m.

Where: Corner Lounge

How much: $5

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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