Passion players

Rap-rock vets Mastamindz stay the course
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 27, 2009

mastamindz main

MAKING THE CONNECTON Lopes, Seagrave, Moreau, and Barry.

"If music is your passion, then promote it. Get people to your shows. I honestly think people don't push themselves enough."

That's Army National Guard sergeant Matt Moreau, aka M-1 of rap-rock quartet Mastamindz (, talking about the current live scene, having spent more than a decade as lead vocalist/rapper for the Burrillville-based outfit that came up filling clubs with their brand of that Onyx-meets-Biohazard sound way back when. Mastamindz will play Jerky's with Denver duo Axe Murder Boyz and Native-American rapper Anybody Killah on Wednesday.

"I cannot sit here and say the scene is dead when we've continually filled clubs for the last 10 years around here," Moreau said. Mastamindz have been on multiple Best Music Poll ballots and won in 2004 before Moreau was called to duty in Iraq and served over 400 days. He took Best Male Vocalist upon his return in 2006, Their fall '08 full-length disc Product of Your Environment ($9.99 at iTunes and seethes with aggression, driven by the pummeling and sharp rhythm section of Don Seagraves on bass and Warwick's Mike Lopes on drums and the surging riffery of guitarist Jay Barry. The quartet opened for indie rap acts like Ill Bill and Tech N9NE, and scored an opening slot for Atlanta's REHAB on a nationwide tour.

Upon his return, Moreau contacted us and, in no uncertain terms, voiced his displeasure with local media outlets and a recent lack of support. Dude was mighty pissed, but there's no denying his heart — "The whole time I was away I was missing my passion," he said, "and having the music taken away from me made me want it more then ever" — particularly when sharing his thoughts on anything from fallen soldier Pat Tillman to my playing devil's advocate and asking just who still listens to moshpit-inducing angry-rap stuff.

"We've been on a bill with Paul Wall and played shows with Static-X, and that just showcases how we can fit into any genre," M-1 said. "You're always going to have critics but you gotta keep it positive. In this business I've also learned that one negative body within the team can have a major trickle-down effect.

Moreau clearly has plenty to draw from lyrically, including a job working military funerals — he has assisted in more than 2000 of them, including his own boss's just two weeks ago. "People say some stupid things in their music and it's all an act. My lyrics are authentic. With a tour of duty under my belt, there really isn't any questioning my credibility."

He also recalled a benefit show for friend Dan Laporte, who was murdered last year during the Mexican drug war, just five months after serving as Moreau's best man. A Mastamindz track titled "Bomb" was included on a compilation of military-related artists, but the song is actually about Moreau having a shotgun pulled on him in Pascoag when he was 15.

"Some thugs from Woonsocket were looking for my brother and I guess they wanted to send a message, so they stuck a shotgun to my belly and pounded away on my face."

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