The Mattsons are UCSD alumni, where they studied with heavyweights like bassist Mark Dresser, saxophonist David Borgo, pianist/composer Anthony Davis, pianist/composer Kamau Kenyatta, and percussionist Steven Schick.
The twin brothers have already established international careers by carving out their own personal instrumental music dynamic. Their older brother Micah had a punk band called Kut U Up, but early on their father had introduced the boys to Art Blakey and Lee Morgan.
Often called surf-jazz because of the highly melodic, reverb-drenched nature of their original tunes, the Mattson 2 create memorable melodies that are often episodic, even cinematic in performance. Indeed, one could easily imagine their tunes peppering the soundtrack of a Quinton Tarantino movie.
Jared Mattson plays the guitar, and you can hear a lot of Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell in his style. He also claims Johnny Marr of the British pop-band The Smiths as a prime influence.
Brother Jonathon’s instrument is the drums, and he is able to respond to the often quirky machinations of Jared with that infamous twin-intuition empathy.
A near life-size oil painting of Jared Mattson hangs on the wall near the band stand inside the Turquoise Lounge in Pacific Beach. You can tell it is Jared and not Jonathan because of the guitar.
Steeped in a breezy jazz brilliance and the swagger of surf and sun, their music is a blend of sounds including a helping of the M2 specialty, a genre they call surf jazz. Think Chet Baker-meets-Dick Dale. It makes sense, when you consider that the UCSD grads got their professional start by performing their originals and covers at premiers of Thomas Campbell surf flicks.
“He had us play sets in theaters before his movie premiers.” Those shows, Jonathan says, were the first occasions that the brothers appeared in public as the Mattson 2. The Campbell-Mattson collaboration continues to this day. “Aesthetically, Thomas's vision of our music is unmatched. I call him the George Martin of the Mattson 2.”
According to Jonathan, Campbell was the person who really helped to jump start their music career. “We started at age 17 so it wasn't like we had a huge vision on what we wanted to do as musicians. Thomas helped us get inspired by different musicians like Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, Velvet Underground, and Tortoise.”
Campbell has produced several Mattson 2 records. In turn, “We have played for him in San Francisco, Tokyo, Copenhagen Denmark, and Los Angeles, and we have also performed at his movie premiers through out the entire U.S.”
There is a fluid dynamic inside of any Mattson composition, but they also merge indie, new wave, surf, and 60's Blue Note jazz aesthetics. It has been said that their sound brings to mind Charles Mingus and Chet Baker, the Smiths, and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
The brothers’ third full-length CD Feeling Hands was released in June 2011 on their label Galaxia Records. Recording engineer Monte Vallier also recorded most of their earlier album Introducing the Mattson 2.
“Jared, Thomas [Cambell], Monte and I put a lot of time into the sequence of the album,” says Jonathan. “It was our goal with Thomas to create a record that takes you many different places. I think it's a culmination of our growth in our relationship we have with Thomas. It expresses this growth anywhere from the concise song writing and collaboration to the musical orchestration of the pieces to the subtle recording techniques used by Monte.”
For the album, the Mattsons also enlisted the talents of Galaxia label-mates Ray Barbee and Tommy Guerrero to lay down a few riffs on tracks “Chi Nine” and “Give Inski’s.”
In August 2011, they took home the Best Jazz Album trophy at the San Diego Music Awards. In their acceptance speech, Jonathan thanked his music teacher Duncan Moore, while Jared thanked his teacher Bob Boss.
A stop-motion time-lapse video for “Black Rain” consists of more than 3000 photographs, sequentially filmed over a thirteen hour session. It required five men, two cars, thirteen airplanes, thirty-two beers, twelve eggs, a broken generator, sunblock, a 10-22mm wide angle lens, a giant caterpillar, half a kitchen, and an ocotillo tree to make this the video.
They booked the 2012 Vans Warped Tour, as well a road tek with pro skater Ray Barbee, the Get Out and Do Something tour, taking them to the Pacific northwest, the east coast, and South America.
They supported their 2014 full-length Agar (on the Um Yeah Arts label) with a lengthy U.S. tour, running through October 24 in Costa Mesa.
In late 2016, they were working on a joint LP with Chaz Bundick (of Toro y Moi), Star Stuff, due March 31 the following year on the Company Records label.
The Mattson 2 Play A Love Supreme was released in August 2018, preceded by a single for “Resolution.” According to the band, “We wanted to pay homage and respect to one of our heroes, John Coltrane, by exploring and reinterpreting his original masterpiece.”
The release was planned with gig potential in mind. "Because of this performance aspect," says Jared, "we were excited to take the piece on and project the masterpiece the through our own electro-groove guitar and drums filter. We wanted to balance our reverence of the piece with the forward thinking approach that has always been a hallmark of Jazz. The desire was not to repeat the past, but use the past to inform and shape the future."
"Robbie Simon did the cover art. Some people may recognize the cover art stylistically from his work with the Allah Las. Skate and snowboard creative mastermind Mark Wiitanen shot the photos."
Their album Paradise, released June 2919 via Company Records, was previewed by its first single and video for "Essence." Video director Anthony Sylvester intended to capture the beauty of the brothers' native California. "The VHS film and the less-pristine nature of it gives something many of us can all connect to," say the Mattsons, "the prized trophy we held and filmed our friends with while thumbing through CDs and VHS tapes at Circuit City, whilst maybe catching a free flick on the big screen in the cushy sound room. Not to mention the musicianship is shown at a level reminiscent of live performance." A followup single was released for "Naima's Dream."
Paradise was promoted with a tour that kicked off in May 2019, including festival plays at Vermont's Waking Windows, Ohio's Nelsonville Music Festival, and Colorado's Telluride Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Festival, and dates opening for Nick Waterhouse. That summer, they released a new video for "Shell Beach," and toured in the fall with Marco Benevento.