Matt Hollywood Doesn't Know Why He Was Fired From Brian Jonestown Massacre

Matt Hollywood
Matt Hollywood
Asha Lakra

One of the original members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Matt Hollywood was an influential element of the San Francisco neo-psychedelic rock band from 1990 to 1998, responsible for favorites like "Oh Lord," "Maybe Tomorrow," and "Got My Eye on You," among others.

Prolific, psyched-out, practically unknown — to say that the Brian Jonestown Massacre were the Velvet Underground of the '90s is no exaggeration, and the similarities don't stop at heroin, either. Both bands were fronted by eccentric characters, saw many lineups and evolutions throughout their careers, and, oh, created some of the best music in history. At least for BJM, the story isn't over yet.

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Matt Hollywood and the Bad Feelings are scheduled to perform Monday, September 28, at the Rhythm Room.

These days, Brian Jonestown Massacre is a genre unto itself, partially responsible for reinvigorating a mainstream appreciation for early garage rock and psychedelia. In other words, thank (or blame) BJM for bands like Tame Impala or Foxygen getting heard on the radio.

For Hollywood, 2015 has brought a number of unexpected changes. The singer and guitarist started a new band, Matt Hollywood and the Bad Feelings, and for an unexplained reason, Hollywood was not invited on the Brian Jonestown Massacre's 25th anniversary tour in New Zealand and Australia. Hollywood says he was fired but was never told why.

"I confirmed with their management that I'm not going, but other than that . . .," Hollywood says from Atlanta. "I don't know what to say about when you worked for years for somebody and they just decide to not even tell you that they don't want you to go [on tour]."

We reached out to bandleader Anton Newcombe for comment, but his management said he was too busy to respond. Newcombe currently is touring Europe with doe-eyed Toronto musician Tess Parks in support of their album together, I Declare Nothing, but Hollywood doubts there would've have been scheduling conflicts with BJM's tour this November.

This isn't the first time Newcombe and Hollywood haven't seen eye-to-eye. Hollywood's first departure from BJM followed an onstage fight around the time Strung Out in Heaven (1998) was released. The scene was famously depicted in the controversial 2004 documentary DiG!, which explored the friendship and tension between BJM and Portland band The Dandy Warhols. In fact, BJM's "Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth" (itself a response to the Dandies' "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth") was written by Hollywood.

The movie, created from more than 2,500 hours of footage filmed over the course of seven years by Ondi Timoner, won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

But many involved with the film, including Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor, said it shows a lopsided truth.

"I was shocked . . . ," Newcombe posted about the film on his website that year. "Several years of our hard work was reduced, at best, to a series of punch-ups and mishaps taken out of context and, at worst, bold-faced lies and misrepresentation of fact . . . I accept that people will make up their own minds about this film when they see it . . . I just feel ripped off by the 'lowest common denominator' culture machine (something I don't cater to)."

Hollywood officially returned to the band in 2009 but kept busy while he was away. During his decade-long absence, he was in a number of bands, including the Out Crowd, the Rebel Drones, and Magic Fingers with ex-Dandy Eric Hedford and Spike Keating, briefly a touring guitarist for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

In 2003, the Out Crowd released Go On, Give a Damn, a smooth, seven-track trip produced by Gregg Williams, who also worked with the the Dandy Warhols on their most iconic record, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia. The Out Crowd followed up with Then I Saw the Holy City, featuring "Drugsick," which has a distinct Spiritualized vibe, but with Hollywood's sultry, sleepy vocals. The Out Crowd toured with Dead Meadow and the Warlocks as well as the Dandies.

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Around the time the Out Crowd dissolved, Hollywood fronted the Rebel Drones in Portland, whose all-star cast included Jason Anchondo of the Warlocks, Collin Hegna of BJM/Federale, Peter Holmstrom of the Dandy Warhols, William Slater of Grails, and Dandy Lee Strickland of Reverends. Though some of the Rebel Drones' nearly forgotten recordings never made it to an album, its drone was delicious and mind-expanding. Unfortunately, the Rebel Drones dissolved almost as quickly as they had formed.

"[The project] kinda lost momentum," Hollywood says. "Almost everybody in the band had a lot of other things going on. And it eventually just got to the point where it wasn't a priority for everybody."

About a year ago, after Hollywood's mother had a stroke, he moved to Atlanta to be closer to her in Florida. He says he wanted to be "somewhere where I'd be able to find work and work on music and stuff but still be close enough to get down there in an emergency."

There, he formed Matt Hollywood and the Bad Feelings with Dandy Lee Stickland on vocals and guitar, his brother Daniel Strickland on bass, Taylor Wynn on guitar, Corey Pallon on drums, and Asha Lakra singing and on tambourine.

The Bad Feelings have only been around for a few months — their first-ever performance was at Austin Psych Fest in May. When we called Hollywood, 42, he said his band was trying to produce a single available for digital download before leaving on tour, but otherwise, there is yet to be any recorded music.

So what will a Bad Feelings set entail? Hollywood says it will include some unreleased tunes by the Rebel Drones, some Out Crowd stuff, as well as entirely new songs.

"The sound is trying to go for something a little more stripped down, with less effects," Hollywood says. "I've got a good group of people, so I've been doing a lot of improvisation, starting off with things that are kind of a sketch and seeing where we take it from there."

Will there be any BJM songs? "Probably a few," Hollywood says. "There's a couple that seem to be unavoidable, I guess."

Hollywood says he's disappointed by Anton Newcombe's decision to not include him on the tour (Hollywood's tweet says it all: "At least The Donald has the balls to tell people when they're fired. I'll see you some other time, Australia.") but says he treated the last few years in BJM as "just another job."

"I'll miss hanging out with the other guys in the band and, you know, going out and giving the fans what they want," Hollywood says, describing Newcombe's writing process as uninviting, to say the least. "It's been years since anyone besides Anton really has been allowed to make any contribution to the music or the albums . . . it's disappointing to not have even been told that there was [a tour] in the works, but on the other hand, I can't say I'm really that upset about it. I've got other things going on."

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