Matt began playing guitar and writing
songs around age 15 in Westfield, NJ. In 1984,
inspired by groups like The Jam, The Clash, & R.E.M, he formed a band
with his high school friends: Kevin Houlihan, Mike Engelhart, and Andy
Haims called The FUNDAMENTALS. The band
released one record on its own – “It’s A Big World” (POS). In
1988, Matt’s brother Fran Azzarto joined the band on drums and they were
signed to MCA Records. In a joint venture between its own P.O.S. Records
and MCA, the band released “Feeling Strange” in 1989. The record
reached the CMJ College Radio charts and sold well enough for MCA to
option an 8 record deal. In the fall of ’89, they embarked on the
“Steal Meals” national tour and ended up in Austin, Texas to write
songs for their next record. The Fundies went into the studio with
producer, David Leonard (Prince, John Mellencamp) and spent 2 months
recording songs for “Evolver”, only to later get dropped when
Matsushita bought MCA and cleaned house.
Matt moved on to form The
GEFKENS – a power pop trio named for Chris Gefken, their new bass
player. Matt, Fran, & Chris - in the spirit of the Ramones, the three
brothers played like a hybrid between The Who and Dinosaur Jr. They were
frequently selling out venues in NYC and their hometown of Hoboken, NJ,
while opening on the road for bands like Oasis and Buffalo Tom. Their catalog
of songs soon led to a publishing deal with Largo Music. Matt & the
band decided to build something tangible with their advance and started
Think Tank Studios in Hoboken. They also continued the POS Record label
and subsequently released three albums on their own: “Grind”, “Live, Live, Live”, and “Heroes”.
During this time, Matt and his
bandmates also formed SKANATRA,
which includes the three Gefkens, as well as several other local
musicians. The band was a ska tribute to the Chairman of the Board, Frank
Sinatra – complete with horn section and original ska arrangements of
the songs that Frank made classics.
In late 1999 Matt met some new musicians and formed yet another band – ROCKET. This band included ex-Dinosaur Jr./Lemonheads drummer Murph (Patrick Murphy) and AJ Lambert on bass. The common thread in Rocket was Producer Don Fleming (Sonic Youth, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies). Having worked with each member on previous projects, Don was the obvious choice to produce the band’s first and only record. The band released “Seven Miles High”(POS/Catapult) in the fall of 2001.
2002 to present Matt has spent much time in the other side of the glass Engineering recordings for artists such as Jesse Malin, Pete Yorn, Wendy James and many others. Sometime around 2006-07 Sonic Youth moved in to share the Think Tank space.
In 2008 Matt released his first solo CD entitled "CHECKERED" on P.O.S. Records - check it out!
Click on the album and listen away. All records are available for download on iTunes!