BY Molly Congdon
Periphery, an American progressive metal band, just released its latest album, “Juggernaut: Omega,” on Jan 27.
The band also is making its way to Upstate Concert Hall on Feb. 8 to dazzle the crowd with a bunch of new songs, an amazing light show and their heavy, scream-filled style. Drummer Matt Halpern, gives us the details on his new album, his childhood in Baltimore and his connection with the drums.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: Well, I play drums in the band Periphery. Played them my whole life since I was a little kid. I’m a very active drumming educator and speaker. I also am a huge partner in the company The Entertainment Institute, which [aims] to deliver music and industry education to people all over the music land.
Q: When did you start doing The Entertainment Institute?
A: That’s something very recent that I started doing.
Q: What made you decide to start this up?
A: I had a company called BandHappy for a long time, which connected artists with bands through educational experiences. I was very passionate about this topic for a while. BandHappy is something that kind of ran its course in certain ways, so now I’m looking to get involved in something that’s sort of a different angle on the music education world. This is a really cool opportunity to do so.
Q: You said that you’re very active in speaking about drumming. Where do you speak?
A: I do a lot of clinics. Pretty much wherever the band goes on tour I will find a place in the city like a studio, a school, a dealer, a music shop and speak.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I’m from Baltimore, Maryland — born and raised.
Q: What was your childhood like? Were your parents supportive of you pursuing music?
A: My parents have always been my biggest supporters. When it came to helping me to be motivated, helping to fund my gear or certain projects, they went above and beyond. I’ve always been very lucky to have such a supportive background.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My mother, Carol, is a real estate agent and my father, Richie, was a pharmacist who is now also a real estate agent. They both have always owned their own businesses and instilled a lot of that business into me; I actually got my real estate license coming out of high school before I went to college so that I could help out my parents when I could. They work hard, those two.
Q: So when did you first discover your passion for music?
A: I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. I don’t even think it was something I discovered — I think it was part of me. I’ve never lived without it; it was something innate in me.
Q: Do you remember the first time you played the drums?
A: I went into my basement when I was 3 or 4 years old, and I beat the hell out of them.
Q: Tell me about your high school years.
A: I played in the percussion ensemble and performed. I always played in bands of my own; the one serious band was Spinfire, which was me with a bunch of my good friends. It’s a fun time to discover what you can do with a band and with music.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I went to Towson University in Baltimore and my major was mass communications and public relations. I spent a lot of time in that area of study, but also public speaking and marketing and business.
Q: How do you feel your education has helped you while being in the band?
A: I think it has helped me immensely. Understanding that there are certain ways to speak publicly and ways to market the band.
Q: Are you the leader of the band or do you guys not have one in particular?
A: I’m definitely not the leader; we are all equal members of the band. We structure our company so that everyone is equal and we approach any challenges with a Socratic system.
Q: When was the band formed?
A: officially Periphery was really formed in 2009, that’s when the band really started to get serious and out there. And it became even more of a cohesive unit was when we inducted our newest member of the band, so our current lineup formed about two years ago. So we had a couple phases of establishment, but as a unit we became the band we were supposed to be around 2012 or so.
Q: Why did you pick the name, Periphery?
A: It’s funny; I wasn’t actually involved in the naming of the band. I wasn’t in it yet. It represents being on a side of a lot of different things but still being able to connect with those different things. That’s one way to look at it, but I don’t know the actual reason.
Q: When did you first join Periphery?
A: I joined in 2009. I had been hanging out and jamming with some of the guys in the band and I was actually playing in a band prior to Periphery and situations opened themselves up and one thing led to another and I ended up on the drums.
Q: And how many albums have you guys released?
A: We have “Periphery,” which is our original release, then we put out the “Icarus” EP then “Periphery II,” and then after that we put out the “Clear” EP and then today we released “Juggernaut: Omega.”
Q: How do you feel about your most recent release?
A: We’re all thrilled. Very happy it’s out there in the world. It’s something that we put a lot of ourselves into. Frankly it’s time to move on to the next one, as far as we are concerned.
Q: How would you describe the sound of the one released today as compared to your other albums?
A: I would say story determines what they sound like. It sounds like Periphery, but there’s a movement between the songs. I think people will feel different emotions from different songs and still be able to connect with them.
Q: How would you describe your sound in general?
A: I think we have aggressive moments, very sensitive moments, it’s very much focused on making sure you can feel the rhythmic aspects to it. It’s a very fun experience, but it’s heavy. It’s not boring. We try not to label a sound, because as artists we want to be able to write whatever music we want, whenever we want. So if we feel to go against the grain of a genre we’re known for, we don’t want to feel pigeonholed, you know?
Q: Who would you say is your greatest influence, musicwise?
A: You know I don’t think I have one. I’ve worked with a lot of inspirational people and there’s too many to narrow it down to one.
Q: What’s your favorite part about playing the drums?
A: Drums have been at the center of everything I do. It’s something that is a part of me; they’ve taken me all over the world. I like expressing emotions through the physical aspects of drumming; there’s almost a deep primitive connection to it.
Q: How would you to finish this sentence: “My relationship with music is…”
Q: What do you guys have in store for your Upstate Concert Hall show?
A: We will be coming out with a very badass light show, playing a bunch of new songs and it’s going to be a good show.