Skip to main content

Madina Lake's Matthew Leone: "I was so clueless, I brought my first bass to my first-ever show in a garbage bag"

Madina Lake
(Image credit: Steve Thorne/Redferns)

”My favorite thing about music is those ‘Holy shit!’ moments, where a song gets you saddled in and comfy, then starts climbing that hill like a rickety old wooden rollercoaster, building tension before... ‘Boom!’ The payoff. 

”I discovered that the groove is what takes your inhibitions away, and the tension created by ripping away from the main riff is the design engineer of that glorious feeling. Plus, I started playing when I was 21, and it seemed like the only way I could transition from fan to musician and make a career out of it. 

”My first bass guitar was a nice piece of crap. I believe it was a Peavey. The old joke is that I was so clueless about the whole operation that I brought it to my first-ever show in a garbage bag, not realizing that cases were pretty standard by that point. 

”I jumped straight from there to the two basses I still play and adore today: ye olde Fender Jazz Deluxe, and the mighty Music Man Stingray. I have an Ampeg SVT IV Pro head heading into an Ampeg 8x10 cab – while taking a pit stop at the Sansamp Bass Driver for distortion in those moments when Mateo [Camargo, guitar] excuses himself for a solo. 

”Funnily enough, I’ve never been given advice about bass. I took one lesson and the instructor told me my fingers were too small and that I should pick another instrument. 

”I suppose that was the best advice, because my receptors translated the message into ‘Ah how cute, this old man wants to play music,’ inevitably leading to my internal response, ‘Oh yeah, pal? Watch me now!’ The bass players I most admire are Les Claypool, and the late Chi Cheng from Deftones. 

”Les because he’s a true innovator that nobody has been able to replicate, and a true eccentric goofball, my favorite types of cats. Chi had the most influence on my writing. Not that I’m anywhere near the same stratosphere, talent-wise, but he’s how I discovered the secret power that the bass has in a song.  

”We’re currently booking streaming shows, provided Mateo can get into the USA from Columbia, on the Veeps platform, which I’m very much looking forward to. Ultimately, when the world chills out we will be doing a festival in the UK, a headliner there, and a headliner in the States in 2021. 

”As well as our previous albums, we have a new EP called The Beginning Of New Endings – definitely check those out on your streaming platform of choice!