Spotlight: Lewis Matte of Sophisticated Dingo

Sophisticated Dingo. Credit: Nick Manuell
(Image credit: Nick Manuell)

LEWIS MATTE

HAILS FROM: Naarm/Melbourne, VIC
PLAYS IN: Sophisticated Dingo
SOUNDS LIKE: Fizzy and frantic, high-octane skate-punk
LATEST DROP: ‘Feeding Time’ (single out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
A Maton Mastersound that I found in the Music Swop Shop. It grabbed me as soon as I saw it on the wall, and after having a quick play, I knew it had to be mine. I love how it feels like a smaller guitar, and I’m such a fan of the fact you can switch between single coils and humbucker pickups! 

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
My mum enrolled me in guitar lessons at school when I was around 10/11. It felt like I had no natural knack for understanding how to make music with the guitar – to be honest, I was just addicted to the rote learning element and being rewarded with positive reinforcement, so I didn’t seem to stop practising. With two great guitar teachers, I kept at it, and I found that I loved being onstage. It was only after school, when I seemed to find more time with myself, that my ears really started to understand how my playing could more naturally fit in with songs and performing with others. It’s here that a passion for songwriting was forged and I would attach that to my biggest love for the guitar today.

What inspires you as a player?
In the very early days, back when I first started playing in primary school, I was absolutely obsessed with U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Later in high school, I found myself fall in love with anything The Strokes would put out. And nowadays, I am a big fan of any guitarist who blends rhythm and lead playing in the one part as seamlessly or creatively as possible. I think Greg Rietwyk of Press Club is a prime example – I love listening to his parts in their songs, as I think as the sole guitarist in the band, he cuts through with all the power you expect from a rhythm part, but then throws in plenty of colour and intricacy in his carefully placed lead runs.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I wouldn’t say I’m much of a gear nerd, but I do know what I like once I find it. My favourite pedal is definitely the T-Rex Dr. Swamp Dual Distortion – I have one channel of this pedal running at all times, as it provides the right amount of grit and grunt that seems to improve the tone of my guitar. I also don’t think I could go without my Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi fuzz pedal. It’s far too big for what it does, takes a different power cable input than all my other pedals, behaves differently on every stage, and barely works unless you kick the switch the right way – but I think the wall of sound it produces is just ridiculous, and it finds its way onto more Dingo recordings than I ever think it will.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
One day, I think I would love to have a non-reverse Gibson Firebird in a blue finish with a white pickguard. Especially if it has a tremolo arm and dot inlays on the frets. I mean, I’ve never played one, but I just think they look divine. 

What would your signature model look like?
I would like a blue/green finish on a double cutaway body with a white pickguard, a P-90 pickup in the front and a Strat-style single coil in the back – maybe with a humbucker style silver guard over it, though – next to a long tremolo arm à la a Fender Jag. I think it should have a rosewood neck with white dot inlays on the frets. The headstock should also be rosewood in a Fender style, without the round head at the end of it. 

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
I would love to sit with Johnny Marr and rip through ‘This Charming Man’ by The Smiths. I think it’s the song that typifies a genuinely cool guitar melody that isn’t overly “guitary”, but is genuinely an impressive riff to play.

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Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Their bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (on which they also serve as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Their go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, they only picked up after they’d joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped them see the light…

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