Electric guitars, Acoustic guitars, Bass guitar, Piano, Drums, Mandolin, Keyboards, Morphwiz, Strings, Brass & Backing vocals
Lead Vocals & Backing vocals
When we were young and unafraid…
In the highly creative maelstrom that was the eighties, two fresh-faced lads from an aspiring city, met after a gig in a dockland pub.
“Impressive fretwork, my friend” and “Thanks” were the only exchanges, little realising that this was the meeting of two great songwriters destined to play together for many years to come.
At that time, Matthew was a super shred machine amongst a group of kids playing the latest stuff from across the Atlantic and Ritchie had just completed a three year stint with successful British metal band, Afflicted and was looking to broaden his horizon.
We were both at a point where we needed to move on. There was all this great music coming out of the States and no one at our level with the voice to deliver. I’d spend all day dreaming of the shows we could put on.”
Funny the way life is full of intersections…
It would be many moons and a fair few suns before they met up again. This time Ritchie, not yet furnished with wheels, made the arduous six mile walk to Matthew’s house in a sleepy hamlet with his trusty Walkman filled with Rock and Blues from Zeppelin to mainstream! It was only a month since he had heard that the band he’d seen, with Matthew in it, had split due to commitments elsewhere.
However, this was the night that lit the touch paper to ignite a series of bands and projects leading to the band we have today, Instar.
I was living and breathing American culture in the 80’s and loved the music and movies. Crucially, I embraced the idea of training and had learned to sing metal from some tapes I bought from a Hollywood Hair Metal Voice Coach and immersed myself in the discipline.”
Fuzzy Body, Fluffy head…
Matthew and his drummer Stuz were practicing in his room when Ritchie arrived. He had been singing and writing his own lyrics since he was 14 and was eager to do something new. They looked him up and down as he had ‘the look’ but did he have ‘the chops’? Matthew played the opening bars to Still of the Night by Whitesnake and Rick took over. Everything was there and, once they found a Bass Player, the band Sarenzo could storm the local music scene. It would be a year of the songs they always wanted to do with a party atmosphere. This included a series of shows under the name of the Hot Young Bucks, a spoof band set up for charity that raised over £600. The gigs were sold out everywhere before personal differences forced them apart. Matthew continued to gig with Sarenzo and also started to play many different instruments to try and broaden his musical horizons. Ritchie headed to St Helens to join Slipstream and his first chance to write original material.
Sarenzo had had its day and we went on to do our own things respectively. I started writing and recording my own material on an eight track and tried find my own unique sound. I loved the rock music at that time but I knew there was so much more to explore”
As one door opens…
Ritchie had been singing for St Helens based band, Slipstream for a few months with a few pub gigs and a festival under his belt when the Guitarist left and presented an opening for Matthew to join. The new band wrote their own material and aired it in between covers with a good reception. Then suddenly the bass player left and the band continued as a three piece for a couple of gigs only to disband after a packed farewell in Preston. Ritchie and Matthew had not seen each other since Sarenzo and had found the writing process to be mush improved and comfortable, with a few songs written quite quickly on Matthew’s eight-track with Matthew now able to play all the instruments. They selected the best four tracks and put them onto their first demo under the name MattRick. This demo was the turning point and they both knew that as a partnership it was exactly right and with the new technology appearing, the writing and recording process was achievable and the possibilities limitless.
The thing was I was writing page after page of lyrics in an old launderette waiting for my clothes to dry and Matthew was writing all this great music on his eight track which he upgraded to a sixteen track so we had this incredible opportunity to do exactly what we wanted to do without any preconceptions.”
Friends will be friends…
After a brief spell with a severe larynx infection, Ritchie returned to form with the help of an expert voice coach and it was decided that there was enough material to write a ten-song album. So in 1999 they began writing and recording the album ‘One’ under the new name MatRik. The album, launched at a sold out show in 2002, received critical acclaim. The material continues to flow from unending inspiration listening to many different genres and learning new techniques.
The dream finally realised…
In 2006 they dropped Matrik and became Instar and this was the start of searching for a unique, diverse and eclectic sound. In November 2011 instar launched it’s self titled album to a sold out audience…this night ended with a standing ovation which was an incredible way to mark the end of 6 years of work and great way to mark what is just the beginning for instar.
We’ve been through so much with our music and I think all the experiences have made us who we are today. We just seem to be able to write songs from a few bars and a short conversation. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved in my life and am a testament to the phrase: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”