Heart of Metal

Mat Zoboc mat pictureSmall Town Musician Has Big Dreams

By Macy Griebel

He puts on the metal mask that engulfs his head and walks onto the stage. Feeding off the crowd’s energy he pushes past his boundaries. He beats the metal mask with a metal grinder and watches as sparks fly off of it. The crowd is going crazy now, wanting more. The crowd’s fists are pumping; screaming at the top of their lungs, everybody’s pushing forward, wanting to get closer to the band.

A performance that once started off with nerves is now gone. Once that first note of the song is played everything in his head disappears, and he just plays. All his problems that had clogged his mind dissolve and it comes out through the music. Everything comes together, and he knows his band feels it too. They push themselves to their limits in all the hype– jumping around, crowd surfing, and even breaking stuff. By now sweat drips down his face, covering his whole body.

Mat Zobac’s alter ego is that of a heavy metal rocker. He goes on tour with his 10-member band, Local Clown Graveyard anywhere they can get a gig. They play in places like Stone City and the Chicago area. When performing Zobac’s biggest struggle is keeping the energy flowing. “Whether I am playing in front of five people or in front of 30 people energy and passion is everything,” he said.

Zobac, 16, first started his music career when he was just 6 years old. His love of music first started when he received his first guitar from his father. He picked it up and started to play right away. Zobac is a self-taught musician who has music running through his veins.

As a child, Zobac listened to a variety of music genres. But he was always more into the heavy metal bands and singers like Slash, ZZ Top, and Jimi Hendrix.

Now a sophomore, Zobac has learned how to play a total of six instruments including guitar, banjo, sitar, ukulele, piano, and drums. He also sings. In the future, he wants to learn how to play the accordion and the mandolin. To get this good, Zobac practices two to six hours a night.

Currently Zobac is a part of two bands: Fight Like Cowards which is an alternative rock band, and Local Clowns Graveyard, which is a heavy metal band. Zobac put together Fight Like Cowards when he was in sixth grade. “I have always wanted to be in a band,” he said. “But it’s kinda scary being up performing by yourself, so having the other instruments back you up is awesome and a lot more fun.”

Sophomore Beckett Christensen and Zobac had talked about starting a band for awhile. They began asking around and recruited two more friends: sophomore Derk Keller and junior Liz Erlandson. In the band Mat sings and plays guitar, Beckett plays drums, Derk plays bass and Liz plays keyboard and the piano. They hold practices whenever they can in the basements of each other’s houses. The band plays many small gigs, mainly in uptown Mount Vernon.

As a musician Zobac writes his own music. Using the pain and troubles he has experienced in life helps him a lot when writing. This is obvious in his song “Brain Bleed”:

And there’s no such thing
As a happy day
I want to feel the love
From someone up above
And I want to feel the pain
Coursing through my veins

When he is feeling really creative and in the right mood he can create up to 20 songs a night. But other times it’s not as easy, especially when he’s got a deadline.

Zobac writes music for many of his Uncle’s friends and employees at other music companies. They pay him a certain amount of money and give him a topic to write about. Most of the time they only give him about three days to write it, so Zobac is forced to stay up late after he has finished with sports practices and homework just to finish in time. “It’s hard for me to force emotions to come out in my music,” Zobac explained. “I either feel it or I don’t, and when I’m done with a piece where I had to force emotion I’m not as emotionally attached to it; it makes me feel less satisfied with the piece.”

When Zobac graduates high school, he definitely wants to pursue a career in music. He will first go to college to study music with the ultimate goal of either working in a recording studio or performing in front of people. After Zobac graduates from college he would like to open a recording studio in Mount Vernon and teach younger kids music.