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Matt Hoyt hallowed

“I think it’s important to remember what we love to do.”

Matt Hoyt: RIP to an impressive impresario.
Matt Hoyt: RIP to an impressive impresario.

Multiple creative scenes in San Diego reeled from the news of Matt Hoyt’s death on August 14. According to KPBS, he had been diagnosed just a week earlier with the rare and aggressive illness that took his life. Hoyt, age 45, possessed a seemingly boundless appetite for creativity, one matched only by his output — in art, film, food, and especially music, as both fan and performer. As the lead singer of Turkey Mallet in the mid-’90s, Hoyt lent his voice to San Diego-centric compositions such as “Surf Nazi Norman,” which chronicled nominally fictionalized run-ins with the titular character in Ocean Beach.

Remembrances posted to social media paid tribute to Hoyt’s impact, which continues its ripple effect in the wake of his death. Director Benjamin Johnson (Fanboy) credits his interactions with Hoyt for pushing him forward in his endeavors beyond bartending at the Casbah. “I first got to know Matt Hoyt when he was filming the Black Heart Procession movie and videos, and I was just blown away by him. Here was a guy doing huge things! But he was just a funny kickback dude. It made me stop and reassess what we are capable of if we work hard.”

Former Turkey Mallet bandmate Bryan Lancaster says, “Matt had the kind of magic that transforms a room with a band and a few kids into the full-blown rock and roll revival concert experience. He was committed to the music and to whatever needed to be done. For the 45-60 minutes we were on stage, Matt was a complete rock star, making everyone who was there feel included and seen, like they were one of the band.”

Music played a major part in the convergence of passions he pursued, as when he became business partners with promoter/Casbah owner Tim Mays and musician Steve Poltz in the restaurant and bar Starlite. “Matt had a certain gleam in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile as he told stories,” says Poltz. “This guy could make anything funny. His mind was lightning-fast and he was completely able to hold my ADHD attention.”

His booking of bands such as Bikini Kill at The Soul Kitchen in the ‘90s exposed San Diego to touring acts which in turn ignited the already smoldering indie rock scene here. Drew Douglas, aka grampadrew, recalls, “Matt had a way of commanding a room among a crowd of people used to being the ones who commanded the room. He had that wry smile that contained multitudes and that twinkle in his eye that always seemed to be calculating some devious and wonderful plot.”

His love of film intersected with work again when he directed videos for local stars Goblin Cock and Pinback. Hoyt recalled his work on these projects fondly in an April 2020 Facebook post. “In the midst of everything we’re all dealing with, I think it’s important to remember what we love to do. I love making film and videos with friends, and this Pinback video is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.”

Hoyt concluded the post by writing, “It’s funny to think this entire video is about people drifting in space, wondering if their comrades are okay, and if they will be reunited on the other side.”

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Matt Hoyt: RIP to an impressive impresario.
Matt Hoyt: RIP to an impressive impresario.

Multiple creative scenes in San Diego reeled from the news of Matt Hoyt’s death on August 14. According to KPBS, he had been diagnosed just a week earlier with the rare and aggressive illness that took his life. Hoyt, age 45, possessed a seemingly boundless appetite for creativity, one matched only by his output — in art, film, food, and especially music, as both fan and performer. As the lead singer of Turkey Mallet in the mid-’90s, Hoyt lent his voice to San Diego-centric compositions such as “Surf Nazi Norman,” which chronicled nominally fictionalized run-ins with the titular character in Ocean Beach.

Remembrances posted to social media paid tribute to Hoyt’s impact, which continues its ripple effect in the wake of his death. Director Benjamin Johnson (Fanboy) credits his interactions with Hoyt for pushing him forward in his endeavors beyond bartending at the Casbah. “I first got to know Matt Hoyt when he was filming the Black Heart Procession movie and videos, and I was just blown away by him. Here was a guy doing huge things! But he was just a funny kickback dude. It made me stop and reassess what we are capable of if we work hard.”

Former Turkey Mallet bandmate Bryan Lancaster says, “Matt had the kind of magic that transforms a room with a band and a few kids into the full-blown rock and roll revival concert experience. He was committed to the music and to whatever needed to be done. For the 45-60 minutes we were on stage, Matt was a complete rock star, making everyone who was there feel included and seen, like they were one of the band.”

Music played a major part in the convergence of passions he pursued, as when he became business partners with promoter/Casbah owner Tim Mays and musician Steve Poltz in the restaurant and bar Starlite. “Matt had a certain gleam in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile as he told stories,” says Poltz. “This guy could make anything funny. His mind was lightning-fast and he was completely able to hold my ADHD attention.”

His booking of bands such as Bikini Kill at The Soul Kitchen in the ‘90s exposed San Diego to touring acts which in turn ignited the already smoldering indie rock scene here. Drew Douglas, aka grampadrew, recalls, “Matt had a way of commanding a room among a crowd of people used to being the ones who commanded the room. He had that wry smile that contained multitudes and that twinkle in his eye that always seemed to be calculating some devious and wonderful plot.”

His love of film intersected with work again when he directed videos for local stars Goblin Cock and Pinback. Hoyt recalled his work on these projects fondly in an April 2020 Facebook post. “In the midst of everything we’re all dealing with, I think it’s important to remember what we love to do. I love making film and videos with friends, and this Pinback video is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.”

Hoyt concluded the post by writing, “It’s funny to think this entire video is about people drifting in space, wondering if their comrades are okay, and if they will be reunited on the other side.”

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