One day back in 2011, we were driving up the coast to visit friends in Santa Cruz when we discovered The Mattson 2. Spotify had just become a "thing" in the US, and the night before our road trip commenced we chanced upon Thomas Campbell's 2009 stylish surf flick, "The Present." The entire soundtrack is incredible (check it here) - but one song in the intro credits really stood out for us. We tee'd it up the next day during our long drive, and thus commenced a musical love affair that's lasted for 7 years strong.
When our pal Greg Christian offered to help with the initial Latigo branding two years back, we provided him with a Dropbox folder full of logos and imagery from brands we admired. We also provided him with a single musical reference - this album (Ray Barbee Meets the Mattson 2) which has more-or-less served as the soundtrack for our lives. Responses below by Jared Mattson.
Could you tell us about the early days - your family, and growing up in northern San Diego county?
Our parents met in art school (California College of Arts and Crafts) in Oakland. So we and our three older siblings grew up loving creativity in general. Growing up in SoCal breeds surfing - a type of "social skill" around here, so we had that vibe going on too. Our dad is in his mid 70's and still surfs regularly!
Also, growing up in Encinitas in the mid-late 90s - we were surrounded by an extremely vibrant skate culture. Skate movies like “Thrill of it All” (Zero Skateboards, 1997) is what got us hooked on music.
For those who might not know - you guys are twin brothers and share some type of telepathic musical sorcery. Could you chat about that?
Call it what you want! We come from the same DNA strand so our link is extremely strong and present biologically and emotionally. Because we had such a good connection, we’d often improvise with just guitar and drums and no additional effects!
We came from a punk background then - as a guitarist, I wanted to play more leads so my older brother (who also played guitar) turned me onto Randy Rhodes. I fell in love instantly with his style and that gave me a foundation of technique and virtuosity that I could later translate to a jazz vocabulary.
We eventually played jazz (which we learned in a vacuum). We played it 100% wrong but it had heart. Then we eventually sought out jazz teachers in our respective instruments.
How did you originally sync up with Thomas Campbell?
We met through our skateboarder brother (Micah Mattson) when we were 15 years old. Thomas really loved the music and saw the potential of it working in his films. Despite having no formal training at that time, we were able to boil down our love for various genres into real elements (which turned into a composition).
If you could have dinner with any artist (alive or not), who would it be and why?
I’m pretty sure John Coltrane liked sushi and he really liked Japan. We’d have that in common and would most likely have a fantastic time in Tokyo!
You've lived all over coastal California - and have performed in some of the neatest places. Any favorite places you've lived (and played) over the years?
Dang. Too many good spots. Costa Mesa was one of the best places. Beauty, grit, zest, posh, all in one place with a lot of character. An OC oasis with a really rad art/surf scene that has a love for music (and coffee!). The people we’d surround ourselves with were incredible.
We randomly bumped into you guys 3-4 years ago, surfing at San Elijo ("Campgrounds"). What were those boards you were rocking?
Campgrounds is definitely one of our favorite spots to paddle out. The boards were Michel Junod shapes - one a 7’10” thruster, and the other a 10” log.
You guys are on the road a lot. What does "home" look like for you? Any coffee rituals?
I live in a “cabin” on a hillside - so I throw on a favorite record (usually jazz, but sometimes British 80's instrumental) and I look out at my view of the San Diego Polo Fields surrounded by palm trees. It’s lovely.
A friend of mine from North Carolina recently got us an AeroPress! That thing is incredible! It extracts flavors in coffee I never knew existed.
You've been touring with Khruangbin. Details, please!
We actually just finished the tour. It was legendary - the whole Khruangbin “Khru” was a delight to work with. Many different personalities harmonizing at once - with music being the commons bond. I first got turned on to Khruangbin in 2013 by a buddy in Portland we will call “The Ice Cream Man.” He turned us on to a lot of great music - and equally shared our music with many Portlandians!
"Star Stuff" is one of our weekend go-to albums. Could you chat about working with Toro y Moi on that project?
It was the easiest musical experience we’ve ever been a part of (no overstatement). Flow state supreme. Considering he (Chaz Bundick) engineered, produced, co-composed, and performed it ... we literally had a musical party in the studio. No drama ever. Super humble and kind dude. Oh, he’s quite the jokester as well!
Random fun fact we wouldn't know about you two?
Let's say you weren't making music anymore. Where would you be in the world, and what would you be doing?
I’d be living in Tokyo going to jazz cafes every night or traveling up and down the country eating the greatest food in the world.
(Latigo Tip: check out their excellent homage to all-things Japan, "Vaults of Eternity")
Top book recommendation?
I really dig Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice.” It's very music-oriented with a Murakami-like blend of reality, fantasy, and Sci-Fi. It takes place in SoCal in a fictional town called Gordita Beach (... which is situated somewhere between Redondo and Hermosa Beach).
Thank you so much to The Mattson 2 for chatting with us! Such a total pleasure.
If you enjoyed this chat, you should also check out our Q&A with surf photographer Morgan Maassen.