By Rick Coates
Matt Noveskey grew up in Traverse City as part of a musical family.
The 1994 graduate of St. Francis High School credits his familys
diverse interests in music in shaping his path in the rock band, Blue
I would walk down the hallway and my one sister had Rick James on
while my brother was listening to Iron Maiden and my other sister was
jamming Lionel Ritchie, and then my parents would be listening to the
Beatles, said Noveskey. So I definitely grew up with a hodge-podge
of music blaring around me. I was into the Dead Kennedys and Fishbone
when I was in high school.
Today, Noveskey is the bass player for Blue October, which will be
wrapping up its Pick Up The Phone Tour this weekend with a show Friday
night at the Leelanau Sands Showroom. The Austin, Texas-based rockers
have hit the big time, headlining world tours and even opening for
the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger is a big fan of the band). Yet despite
being a band with a number of hits, Hate Me, Into The Ocean, and
Dirt Room (all top 20 songs), they remain a band many people just do
That is definitely us; we are a band people either do not understand
or get, because we explore dark issues of society, said Noveskey. So
while we may not be the darlings of MTV or radio, we are fortunate
that we have a loyal fan base who gets us and often these fans are
people others dont get. Often, our fans are people who have this
sense they do not belong, that they are alone, so there is this real
sense of community among them, this commonality of that connects them
together and to our music.
The Pick Up The Phone Tour is the bands attempt to create awareness
for the elimination of suicide.
It truly is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, said
Noveskey. The numbers are astounding, it is amazing that our society
is not doing more to talk about this issue. It seems that suicide is
something very hard for people to talk about. We want people to talk
about it and let people know there is help out there.
He is quick to add:
We have always been a band that has flown under the radar. Suicide is
also a societal issue that has flown under the radar, often because
community leaders do not want the copycat syndrome. It often goes
unreported. All of our songs have a personal message to them and some
of them certainly have touched on this topic.
Blue Octobers Pick Up The Phone Tour is committed to reducing the
stigma associated with mental health, depression, and suicide. The
band had to cancel their tour in 2009 as a result of frontman Justin
Furstenfelds own battle with the very issues he deals with in so many
of the bands songs. Here was his statement last year upon canceling
Mental health diseases are unpredictable, said Furstenfeld . And on
the eve of this tour in support of a cause that means the world to me,
I am in need of time to heal from a setback in my own personal life,
which is severe enough for me to seek hospitalization. I hope that my
action to seek the strength and safety of treatment will inspire
others that are suffering to do the same.
It has been a couple of years since Noveskey has been to his hometown
of Traverse City and he is looking forward to returning.
I used to get here at least once a year but I have been so busy, and
being married and having a two-year-old daughter keeps me busy as
Noveskey is looking forward to a longer stay in the area during the
holidays with his wife and daughter but the music industry is calling
his name right now.
I am very busy, as in addition to my work with Blue October, I am
producing and managing other bands, he said. Plus Blue October is
going into the studio to record another album before the year ends.
Since bursting on the music scene with Blue October over 10 years ago,
Noveskey has seen a lot change in the music industry.
I know a lot of people say it has changed for the worse, but I think
a lot is for the better, said Noveskey. There are a lot more
opportunities today for musicians and especially for musicians to have
more control over their artistic endeavors. Another difference is how
you go about marketing yourself. It is so much easier with the
Internet and social media. When I started and was gigging at Union
Street and the Loading Dock you would go to the Copy Shop, print a
bunch of posters, and spend the day hanging them around town. Now in a
matter of seconds you are able to get the information about a show out
to the world.
So is Noveskey able to walk that fine line of guiding bands he manages
and produces without putting a Blue October stamp on their work?
Yes, part of that has come with working from people in the past who
have said this is how I do it and you should do it this way, said
Noveskey. What I try to do is help the artists I work with develop
their sound, and guide them to accomplish their musical objectives. I
am there to encourage and to remind them that if you stick with it you
can make it.
That is also the message he and his bandmates in Blue October tell as
they carry the suicide prevention torch on the road. Their next stop
is Friday, October 8 at the Leelanau Sands Showroom. It is a
Porterhouse Productions presentation and tickets may be purchased in
advance at www.porterhouseproductions.com or at the box office the
night of the show.
If you are contemplating suicide there is help out there. Third Level
Crises Intervention Center has been offering assistance to Northern
Lower Michigan for 40 years and they have a 24/7 hotline 800-442-7315,
or check out www.thirdlevel.org.