360, THE ALTER EGO OF MATT COLWELL, IS NOW READY FOR HIS RETOPIA TOUR, HEALTH ISSUES HAVING FORCED A RESCHEDULE. WHILE EXPLAINING HIS LIFESTYLE CHANGE TO RIP NICHOLSON, COLWELL SUGGESTS REACHING OUT TO HIS NEMESIS KERSER.
360 interviewed on Thursday 2nd April, 2015
For Street Press Australia
Words by RIP NICHOLSON
[Full Q & A below]
From his third album, Utopia, released last year, Unborn Child has 360 aka Matt Colwell addressing the demons that crossed his path in recent years as one of the country’s most recognisable rappers. His arch-nemesis and former rap battle foe, Kerser, also recently released a single – Let Me Chill – where he illustrates his own struggles along much of the same pathway.
“I might reach out to him,” Colwell suggests, “because I can imagine he’s going through some shit and it’s always good when you can talk to someone who’s going through the same shit.”
These echoes from both MCs highlight the most common mental health issues in young Australians, anxiety and depression, and for those who share an image in the public, add the party life of drugs, sex and alcohol, and it can be a gripping issue to which it becomes harder and harder to hold onto one’s sanity. “When you’re on tour, if you don’t look after yourself for a couple of days you’ll fuck up,” stresses Colwell. “You will hit the wall so hard because you get so run down. You’re performing at night, then you get home at around one or two AM and you’re pumped full of adrenalin so you can’t really sleep for a couple of hours. You get to bed at about four and sometimes you will have to get up at say six or seven AM to get to the next spot. I’m sober now – I haven’t had a drink for ages – but when I did used to drink on the road that would be the biggest fuck-up you could do because you just get sick and there’s nothing worse than being sick on tour.”
“When you’re on tour, if you don’t look after yourself for a couple of days you’ll fuck up”
Colwell is on a rescheduled round of touring originally slated for January. Colwell insists he’s clear-headed, less jaded and living more in the present this time around, something he’s felt for a while. “Especially [about] girls,” he interjects. “You always think, ‘Oh, they don’t really like me, they just want to be with the rapper.’ It’s always this battle that’s going on and if you are using drugs or on the piss you get completely jaded and your whole perspective gets thrown. So, staying sober and clear-headed is the way you have to go about it. Otherwise, you lose your shit really easily.”
For an MC who once described his own lyrics as ‘comical and unintelligent’ Utopia made 360 face his matador head on and now finds the rush in writing about it. Since revamping Early Warning acoustically, Colwell is fascinated with the idea of touring unplugged. “I think when you do an acoustic song you really pay attention to the lyrics. And the way people have been paying attention to Early Warning has been pretty sick, so I was thinking it would be awesome to do a tour doing a bunch of my songs acoustically. I reckon that would be sick.”
[Full Q & A below]
Q + A with 360
First up. How have you been? How’s your health in light of a rescheduled tour?
Great, man. I feel really well but for a while there I was working really, really , really hard and I had just burnt out.
You’re not alone there. You’re at the same point as when guys like Seth Sentry and Drapht who also took certain measure to look after their health. Drapht went vegan and toned down his drinking habits on tour, Seth throws Chia seeds in his cereal now and has also toned down his alcohol consumption while on tour. It must be very easy to slide into a bad diet.
When you’re on tour if you don’t look after yourself for a couple of days you’ll fuck up. You will hit the wall so hard because you get so run down ‘cause you’re performing at night, right. Then you get home at around 1 or 2am and you’re pumped full of adrenalin so you can’t really sleep for a couple of hours. You get to bed at about 4 and sometimes you will have to get up at say 6 or 7 am to get to the next spot.
I’m sober now I haven’t had a drink for ages but when I did used to drink on the road that would be the biggest fuck up you could do because you just get sick, man. It’s fun and everything but you just get so, so sick and there’s nothing worse than being sick on tour.
You addressed this a little on your recent joint ‘Unborn Child’ – talking about being a rapper trying to tread water in the industry sober. Are you more wide-eyed and prepared for tours?
It is a lot different, man. Like, it ‘s a lot healthier you feel more focused, my head is clear. temptation is always going to be there. You have people partying, being on tour it’s what people do, it makes you party. But I’m going to bed earlier now. It’s a lot better, man. I think I’m a much better person when I’m not always fucked up on drugs or always on the piss, you know? I think I’ma lot more present and I’m a lot more clearer when I’m not on it. And I get a bit jaded when I’m on it.
Can it be daunting being a public figure, especially when you’re on tour in a venue full of people who have come to see you? You’re the man of the night. I can understand why celebrities escape in drugs to deal with the enormity of being the king of that moment. It’s gotta be surreal.
Yeah definitely, man. All of it, it’s a big shock to the system. When you’re someone who, before the music, people would avoid me on the street a little bit, maybe because I’m taller and have a few tattoos. But now as people recognise me more everywhere I go I’m signing autographs or stopping for pictures, which is fine but, it definitely fucks with you especially if you’re someone who gets a little bit paranoid. Everywhere you go you feel like someone’s watching ya. Even if people aren’t you feel like they are. And as a result you’re always conscious of what you’re doing.
This is going a little off-track but we’re on this subject now and you’re open enough about it – does it feel like 360 has taken over Matt in some ways?
Oh man that’s…
Is that the way to put it?
Yeah, yeah. I’ve never been asked that, no-one’s ever asked that in an interview. People have asked outside but not in an interview.
Well I think it’s important. You could be in a much worse way had you not made the clear decision to get sober. Your daily life is not getting any easier. The things that made you take gear in the first place are still there in front of you. You’re still 360 and you’re about to start your national tour, tonight! Shit, I think it’s worth addressing what you guys go through behind the curtains. And how easy it is for you to burn out.
Yes, definitely. And it becomes this personal battle. People don’t like me as 360 but they don’t know the real me. Especially girls. You always think, ‘Oh, they don’t really like me they just want to be with the rapper.’ It’s always this battle that’s going on and if you are using drugs or on the piss you get completely jaded and your whole perspective gets thrown. So, staying sober and clear-headed is the way you have to go about it. Otherwise, you lose your shit really easily.
On your early work you had said your rhymes were comical and unintelligent. Now on Utopia, there is a lot of subjects covered and it definitely feels like you give a fuck about your rhymes now. Has there been more focus put into what you say on record now, as opposed to your earlier stuff?
Totally, man. I think when I made that comment that was more about when I was doing the jokey songs, I was taking the piss a lot. Things have changed big time now. It’s very therapeutic writing now. Especially writing the more personal stuff that I do which talks about mental illness, drug addiction. That kind of stuff is a therapeutic process now as far as getting it onto paper and recording it.
I hate to bring him into conversation but, it’s not unlike the same battle Kerser’s fighting.
Is he really?
He’s got a new joint called ‘Let Me Chill’ which is talking about getting off the gear and maintaining in the spotlight. On a show called The Corner from the writers of The Wire which follows a drug addicted family. And when one woman went to rehab and cleaned herself up she still had to return to the neighbourhood. Dodging the same dealers and she still couldn’t get a job because of her lack of education and qualifications. So off the drugs, she still had to face the same issues from which she escaped through drugs. And that’s gotta be the biggest problem, handling the same issues sober.
You’ve both put out tracks crying out on the same issues at the same time, shit your careers run parallel to each other, so I think you guys have something that you should both really use to bring awareness.
Shit, I might reach out to him, man because I can imagine he’s going through some shit and it’s always good when you can to someone who’s going through the same shit.
I think you both could really spark an awareness campaign on dealing with depression and anxiety and being examples of how you’ve each handled yourselves in the spotlight away from drugs.
One of the most important things, I think man, is that the younger kids know. I know a lot of people glorify drug use and really make it as if you should be doing it. For the younger kids it’s really important to let them know how bad it actually is. Like, how fucked up your life can get if they go down that path. i really don’t like seeing it, but kids younger than 15 are smoking pipes. That is not cool, man. It was not cool when I was growing up. No-one was doing when you’re a kid. Like plenty have grown up and done it, but when you see kids smoking ice it’s dark, dude.
Most definitely. On to the album; Daniel Johns. Chris Cheney, Gary Clark Jr. How did you get such a credit list together and bringing in a rock influence are you trying to redesign 360’s sound?
You know working with them it was, I used to worship Daniel, Silverchair and the Living End when I was a kid. I remember when I was 13 and watching the Living End’s first music video. Now working with them was a massive spin-out. I wasn’t really going for a new sound, but just the fact that I’m working with the dudes that I used to idolise, and who I still look up to
So for me to work with them was a huge spin out. The Living End is managed by my manager so I’ve met those guys several times at work parties and my publicist is Daniel John’s brother. So I said to him that I really want to work with him. Do you know the song he did with QANTAS?
No, I haven’t heard it.
Look it up man. He wrote everything. The whole musical arrangement and everything. It’s fucking genius. As soon as I heard that song I was like I need this and I need to incorporate this into hip-hop. When you hear it you will understand, it’s really angelic and epic. He said to me I wouldn’t count on Daniel working with you, he doesn’t really work with anyone. Then he hit up Daniel and Daniel said yes. Working with Daniel, he is a fucking freakshow, dude. I can’t believe what comes out of him. He’ll put on a song and he’ll freestyle, make shit up or hum it out and that’s the melody. He records it and that becomes the hook. He does it perfectly first time but he doesn’t say any words. Whatever it sounds like he’s saying he fits the words to it, so it doesn’t even make sense. He just fits the words that sound like what he’s said in gibberish and they always have something to do with whatever the song is about, it’s really weird.
I could understand how that would work.
Yeah it’s quite amazing. And working with Chris, that ‘Early Warning’ song is like one of my favourite of all time. he killed that. He’s such an amazing guitarist as well.
You did a good job of turning that into acoustic, too.
Yeah, thank you man, that was a lot of fun.
You also put out the question to your fans of what songs off Utopia they would want to hear acoustic. What were some of the requests that came up?
You know the funny thing is that a lot of them said ‘Early Warning’. a lot of them said ‘You & I’ off Utopia and one person said ‘Eddie Jones’ and I don’t know how to do ‘Eddie Jones’ in acoustic.
Are you looking to revamp your catalogue acoustically, maybe do an unplugged tour?
This was just to put up a video and really let people see the song in a different light. I think when you do an acoustic song you really pay attention to the lyrics. And the way people have been paying attention to ‘Early Warning’ has been pretty sick so I was thinking it would be awesome to do a tour doing a bunch of my songs acoustically. I reckon that would be sick.
Like Horrorshow are doing at the moment.
That’s right and they’re killing it aren’t they?
Yeah, and for you it’s a way of breathing new life into some old songs. The Eminem tour. How was that, and did you get to meet Eminem, Kendrick, J Cole, Action Bronson backstage?
I didn’t really expect to meet Eminem. Each artist has their own green room. Kendrick and his people were in one, J Cole was in another. But they came in, Kendrick came in and introduced himself to us. He was really humble, hey. But 10 minutes before his set Eminem would arrive in a car, with police escorts, jump out do his show and jump straight back into his car and get escorted back out to his hotel. But it was a great experience, J Cole was awesome.
Both he and Kendrick have dope albums out this year, too.
Did you like Kendrick’s new album?
Yeah, of course I did, man. So what’s next for 360 – 4th album in the works?
I am doing a lot of writing for that now, I tend to think over the next project while I’m on a tour. So, I’d love to get an album out by the end of this year but more likely it will be early next year.