Kyle Matteson: From More Cowbell to Ten Atoms
Photo by Margaret Andrews
If you've been following Twin Cities music over the past several years, the phrase "more cowbell" means more than Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell acting ridiculous. Blogger Kyle Matteson started More Cowbell with humble intentions: sharing the music he loved with his friends, notifying them of new bands and upcoming concerts.
As the music blogosphere boomed mid-decade, More Cowbell became one of primary voices of the Minneapolis-St. Paul music scene. Last May, Matteson turned over control and the site is currently, as he puts, it "in hibernation." That, however, doesn't mean Matteson is no longer involved with local music. Instead it freed up the time for a new project: Ten Atom Records.
Gimme Noise: Why did you start the blog?
Kyle Matteson: Initially it started as a way for me to keep track of shows/tours I wanted to see or albums I'd been listening to. After time my friends found it useful and through word of mouth it just kind of spread from there. I never started it with the intention that much more than a few dozen people would read it.
How has the blogging world changed since you started?
It's changed a lot since I first started blogging in 2002. At that time there weren't all that many music blogs, especially quality ones. That changed drastically around 2004-2005 for sure. It seems to me like the niche of everyone starting their own music blog has died off a little bit the last year or two and it seems like every couple weeks one goes away. I'd imagine that sort of thing is cyclical, but it does seem like blogs have been knocked down a bit with the advent of Twitter & Facebook and I can certainly understand why.
You've also sponsored a few shows and recently kicked off Ten Atoms. How do you see the blogosphere and local music scene working together?
Helping put together shows is a ton of work and often nerve wracking right up until doors open, but it's also very rewarding when it goes well and you see people smiling and having a great time at the show.
As for blogs helping the local music scene, they definitely give a louder voice and add some credibility to smaller local bands/acts who might not draw more than a few dozen people on a given night. I don't think bands like Tapes 'n Tapes, Cloud Cult, or any Rhymesayers or Doomtree act really benefit too much from local blog coverage these days, as they get plenty of attention from the mainstream media outlets, radio, etc. That's not a slight on those bigger acts whatsoever, just the truth of the matter. Who really cares what some tiny local blog has to say when the band is selling out First Avenue or being played daily on The Current?
What's your reason for shifting away from More Cowbell and pursuing Ten Atoms instead?
I just felt like it'd run its course and I've never been one to just sit around and watch something slowly die. Once I felt like I was no longer excited or interested in contributing new content to the site, I turned over control to someone who was. Plus, I'm always coming up with website ideas in my head (you don't even want to know how many domains I actually own) and am excited about some other projects I've got in the works right now (both personal and for other artists).
As for Ten Atoms, one of my good friends and long-time musical companions Ryan Matteson (no relation, believe it or not) from Milwaukee had the idea to start a vinyl-only record label to put out some of his favorite under-the-radar/local releases. The whole thing just seemed to make total sense to me and I'm ecstatic to be a part of it. He's basically the label/A&R guy and I'm more of the technical/website person, but I'm hoping to bring bands on board in the future as well.
What did you learn in putting out your first release (the Conrad Plymouth EP)?
That there's a lot of work involved, but the payoff and reward seems a lot more enjoyable for both the label, artist, and consumer than you'd get at a larger independent or major label.
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