British-born vocalist Aaron Matts is the frontman of French metalcore heroes Betraying The Martyrs. He joined the band in 2010 after giving up his job as a welder in factory, appearing on the following year’s debut album, Breathe In Life. In July 2019, the band were forced to cancel a US tour after losing their gear in a tour van fire. Their latest album, Rapture, is out now.
What’s the worst thing about being in a band?
“One is being away from loved ones; being away in a band means you’re part of a certain type of social circle that you wouldn’t be part of without the band, but also you miss out on all those regular social circles you have at home. Another is money. It’s hard for bands across the spectrum.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Getting good sleep. I heard that sleeping is more important than eating and that’s so true on tour – if you see someone trying to get their eight hours in, never wake them up. Being tired on tour is like a disease, it really affects your mood. Over the last couple of years, I’d choose a hotel bed over an afterparty any day.”
When was the first time you felt like a rockstar?
“Going on the 2012 Mayhem Festival tour in the US with Slipknot. That was the first big-scale thing for us and it happened so early on in our career, two years after we started. It was all downhill from there… Motörhead and Slayer were on the bill too and being around those kinds of bands put into our heads that we really have to get our shit together.”
- 5 minutes alone with… Anthrax’s Scott Ian
- 5 minutes alone with… Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret
- 5 minutes alone with… Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein
- 5 minutes alone with… Destruction’s Schmier
What’s been your worst experience on drugs?
“I’ve had many! I smoked DMT [a powerful hallucinogenic] a couple of months ago and I thought I’d died for a good five minutes. To be honest, I dabble here and there but at the end of the day, it’s always going to end in bad experiences; there’s a nasty downside to drugs. A good old drink will do. Get a bag of cans in, call your mates up, smash ’em and go to bed early.”
When was the last time you cried?
“About two weeks ago. I’d been through a series of operations for some health issues. We went out and did a show anyway and I was in so much pain during the show, I came back to the hotel on my own and cried for an hour. Sometimes you’ve got to get it out, there’s a lot of stigma around it but you need a good cry once in a while. Nobody has to know, you can keep it a secret… I wish I had now!”
How have Betraying The Martyrs recovered from your recent tour van fire?
“It was a blessing in disguise. We lost everything and we had to cancel the tour, but it gave us the chance to see how many people care about what we do. People came together through crowdfunding and we managed to buy everything back so everything’s all sparkly and new. It was a really nice end to a shitty story.”
What hurts more – blowing out your vocals or throat tattoos?
“I had my throat tattoos done so long ago, I can’t remember but I’d say blowing out my voice because that’s so stressful. It doesn’t happen often but getting sick and stressing that you might not be able to give your best performance for a show really gets to me, whereas throat tattoos are just pain and you’re not letting anybody down.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about yourself?
“During the second album, we were touring so much with so many different bands, we tried to suck up more inspiration from them than we should’ve done. It’s hard not to be a sponge when you’re young and impressionable but stick with what you want to do, keep going at it and it will eventually stick and people will see the image you’re putting across. I’m also an over-thinker and when I look back over the years, I’ve sat awake stressing over nothing. You can waste so much time thinking and it’s not worth it.”
How’s the 2020 version of Betraying The Martyrs looking?
“We’ve just got our new manager, ex-Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler – that’s fucking stupid! We’re booking things into place now and it’s looking to be one of our biggest years yet; we’re writing the best music we can, putting in all the effort and we have a good team behind us.”
Published in Metal Hammer #333