Interview - Matt Minter
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Matt Minter with one of his paintings
I first noticed Matt Minter's artwork many years ago on Instagram. Later, he did custom artwork for me. Throughout the years, he's been a top-notch Internet-friend, and I even got the chance to meet him in real life at Trip Metal Fest in Detroit. In person, he is quiet, sweet, and unassuming, but one look at his dark artistic creations or one listen to "Mutilation Pains" by his band Wretched Worst proves he has another side to him entirely.
"Pets" by Matt Minter
The Mood 51: It seems your band, Wretched Worst, has been active for over 10 years now. What are your tips on keeping a band together, productive, and flourishing?
Matt Minter: Wretched Worst has actually been on hiatus since the summer of 2015. We had just concluded a tour, and I was preparing a solo art show. Our drummer announced he was going to quit, and our bass player announced he was moving to a different city. Up to that point, I was treating the band like a part time job. I was managing, song writing, and composing all the record and promotional artwork. With my solo show drawing near, the idea of both finding a replacement drummer and accommodating our bassist’s living situation felt pretty exhausting. I thought it was a good opportunity to give the band a break and concentrate solely on making art for a while.
Before the hiatus, we recorded over an album’s worth of material, most of which is still unreleased. Some things recently fell into place where I was able to release a new cassette and music video. My bassist is now working on finishing the remainder of our unreleased material. If it ever sees the light of day, we’ll consider playing together again.
M51: I just can’t get over the contrast of you in person (quiet, well-mannered) and your screaming, distorted vocals and bloody, graphic art. Is there a whole ‘nother world inside your head? And surely other people who know you but didn’t previously know about your art and music are surprised too?
MM: I went on a date where the woman confessed that people warned her not to go out with me, based purely on seeing Wretched Worst play live.
As far as what’s taking place inside my head, lately it’s just been a lot of stress and anxiety about reality.
"Excesses of Hate" by Matt Minter
M51: You draw mostly humans, but you also incorporate dogs, snakes, spiders, and mice. Which animal are you going to add to the list next?
MM: The next living things I plan on including in my work will probably be houseplants.
M51: A lot of your art depicts nudity, something Instagram has imposed restrictions on. How does it feel having to censor your work on Instagram, and what are your thoughts on these rules?
MM: I think it’s pretty lame. I try to make it less lame by making the censorship a part of the artwork.
M51: On Instagram you sometimes post clips from vintage or cult films. What are some films that have had the biggest impact on you as an artist?
MM: The very short list of cinematic inspirations includes Alucarda, Leptirica, and most films by Jean Rollin. You can also throw in a lot of slashers and gialli.
M51: What about music—who are your influences and favorites?
MM: When composing songs for Wretched Worst, I commonly looked at cinematic scores for inspiration. You can start with John Carpenter, Goblin, and branch out from there. I’m not a musician, so I began with simple themes that my bandmates would realize into full songs. I sought to maintain a chaotic, improvised element: drawing influences from jazz and noise.
M51: What is your personal favorite piece of art you’ve created, your best work?
MM: I’m quick to knock down and pick apart my art after I’ve completed something. I think “Bringing Home A Stranger” is still a favorite. I think it holds up creatively and compositionally. I felt invigorated after producing the music video for “Undressed By Fleas”. It had been a long time since I had dealt with video. I genuinely enjoy video editing; it's the closest experience I’ve had to alchemy.
"Bringing Home A Stranger" by Matt Minter
M51: In 2019, someone got a tattoo of your art for the first time. Have you ever thought about doing tattoos yourself?
MM: I briefly considered becoming a tattoo artist, but I don’t think I have that level of discipline. Really good tattoo artists seem to be able to draw whatever they want on a whim. I think my strongest visual work requires a lot of contemplation and false starts. I think I have mental hindrances that would hold me back from being a good tattoo artist.
M51: Have you always had a fascination with bloody, mutilated, disturbing things? And if not, how did it come about? Do people ever take it the wrong way?
MM: Yeah, as a kid I was extremely sheltered from that stuff, but I was absolutely attracted to it. Back when you could rent videos at grocery stores, while my mom was checking out, I would go stare at all the VHS box covers of horror movies. The first horror film I watched as a child was Night of the Living Dead. That was an eye-opener for me. It taught me that human beings could be reduced to meat, and the righteous person in a situation will most likely get taken down by dumb assholes.
Occasionally people do criticize my subject matter. I’m always open to have a conversation about it, and I generally do take complaints into consideration while developing future work.
"The first horror film I watched as a child was Night of the Living Dead. That was an eye-opener for me. It taught me that human beings could be reduced to meat, and the righteous person in a situation will most likely get taken down by dumb assholes."
M51: What program(s) and/or media do you use to make your drawings?
MM: I use a Kuretake brush pen and Copic markers for drawing. My more elaborate and refined images are rendered with the help of Photoshop.
M51: What type of paint do you use for your paintings?
MM: I've been using Golden brand heavy body acrylic.
M51: In your artist statement, you say “Most often, my body of work is rendered in monochrome with the intent to burn images into the viewers’ psyche.” I never knew that was the reason. What inspired you to try to burn images into people’s minds?
MM: Raymond Pettibon’s black and white drawings really appealed to me. At some point I aspired to draw like him, and sort of figured out how to do it.
M51: Your ‘Past Work’ section of your web site claims that “lots of self-slashing” has been left in the wake of Wretched Worst. Is that something you engage in as part of your stage performance? What other elements inform your performance art?—I know I saw a saw hanging from the ceiling in one live video.
MM: With Wretched Worst live shows, I wanted my physical performance to be an extension of the music and accompanying art. A knife came into play, and during a period of self-loathing, I used that knife to an extreme. After doing this for a couple of shows, I realized that kind of performance was impractical, especially while on tour. I instead used the knife as a way of threatening violence, setting up opportunities for accidental harm.
We played a show where I was getting annoyed with the audience’s lack of response. I grabbed my girlfriend’s Red Stripe and smashed it, causing my hand to gush blood. I smeared my hand across my forehead and let the blood stream down my face while we finished playing. The audience wanted an encore, but my bassist was like “Man, I don’t know. Matt’s bleeding a lot.”
"With Wretched Worst live shows, I wanted my physical performance to be an extension of the music and accompanying art. A knife came into play, and during a period of self-loathing, I used that knife to an extreme."
M51: If you could never use red, black, or white again, which colors would you use for your illustrations?
MM: Probably beige, pink, and gray.
M51: What’s something most people would be surprised to know about you?
MM: When I sing along to music in my car, I usually inject my name into the lyrics.
"She Chooses Her Lover" by Matt Minter
M51: What do you love in this world?
M51: What do you hate?
M51: What’s the most out-of-character thing you have ever done?
MM: Smoked a cigarette.
M51: What’s your favorite weather?
MM: Sunny with a temperature between 64 and 74 degrees.