A stranger walked up and handed me a package. It was a standard press kit stuffed with CD, photo, and bio. I waited for the big pitch that usually follows, but it didn't come.
"This is not me," he said simply.
Needless to say, I was intrigued.
"This is Cash Mattock," he said.
Cash Mattock is a character, a persona that allows his creator to make music and get perspective on a sordid past from the safety of anonymity. Cash Mattock is the mask for a man seeking resolution --- maybe even redemption --- through his music.
Mattock's debut release, Sexy 21st Century Beast, is an album almost 10 years in the making. It comes from a dark place.
"A lot of these songs I wrote for this record were written during a very unfortunate time in my life," Mattock says, "in which I was hanging out with some very bad people. I actually went through some life-changing things, including bad experiences with drugs and things like that."
Sexy 21st Century Beast is a concept album focusing on this period --- one night in particular --- that included chemical excess, jealousy, rage, rape, and a host of other human vices. Mattock approaches it quasi-satirically.
"It's about relationships with people, relationships with your friends or girlfriend or whatever," he says, "and how this all revolved around this underground community and how it's skewed and how people are kind of just living in this fantasy world."
Mattock's creator has been in and out of the Rochester music scene for years. Creating Cash Mattock allows him to get away from expectations.
"Any attachments to anything else I've ever done I just don't want to bring to the table," he says. "It's nothing that's really important or that should have anything to do with it."
"Each band has its own exploration," he says, "its own focus on a different genre. Everybody has their own way. I want to do something that's me, something that's original. I didn't want to do what's already been done and I thought this would be a unique way to control what was going on, using the studio itself as an instrument."
Mattock started work on the project four years ago. He bought a computer and began creating samples.
"It was a different writing approach," he says. "I wanted to approach it from a collage perspective."
So besides exorcising, Mattock was exploring uncharted waters. He employed the help of Ryan Kemp (Moviees, El Destructo), Paul Morabito (Lovematics, Moviees, Chesterfield Kings), Keith Parkins (Quitters, Duke Galaxy & the Pipeliners, 5 Watt Bulb), Chris Kemp (Phoenix Red, The Q, Hello Goodbye, Asyd Malaise), and producer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Cimicata.
What wound up on Sexy 21st Century Beast was a sonic, borderline industrial assault of profound intensity and anger. The acoustic detours sound Brit-pop --- like a less ecstatic XTC, an even angrier Paul Weller, or Paul McCartney with his wings pulled off.
Lyrics notwithstanding, the music itself churns and writhes. It's more turmoil than pain. The vocals are raw and one shade shy of homicide.
"There was a lot of intensity required," Mattock says. "I mean, I couldn't have portrayed the songs and just sing them. When I recorded a song it was almost a performance, even though you're not seeing a performer."
Each performance is listed on the back of the album next to the name of the vice it illustrates.
"Every single one of these words reads a fault in the human persona," he says. Revenge, addiction, exploitation, obsession, madness, doubt, vanity, jealousy, confusion... the list goes on. And each is addressed on its own cut with mounting, palpable rage.
You can hear his frustration on "Indecision": "Somewhere between love and hate / I don't deserve this fate / Now I'm just a half a man / I know I started this ride / I threw my arms up, didn't try to hide / But man this wasn't part of the plan."
You can hear the imminent danger on "Hot Pair Of Knives" when he sings, "I've been banging my head against the wall / suddenly I don't feel so tall."
Hopefully this album has put some of the demons to bed.
"Seeing the songs together from the perspective I have now, it definitely tells a story and gives a lesson," Mattock says. "I always write something so it's tangible, so I can have control over it. Because then it becomes something that's on paper or something that exists in a musical realm where I can take it out and explore it whenever I want, so I can have control over it. Instead of it having control over me."
Cash Mattock will have a listening party for Sexy 21st Century Beast Thursday, December 30, at the Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Avenue, at 9 p.m. Tix: $10. Open bar 9 to 11 p.m. Free CDs for everyone through the door. 454-2966