Skip to Content Skip to Navigation


Thriftones article from JSOnline

Posted on February 1, 2012

The Thriftones are only 6 months old, but the band has more live gig experience than groups twice its age. The foursome had two shows the last weekend of January alone and even followed up its first gig back in August with a second impromptu show hours later.

That's some serious dedication, but frontman Matt Davies is just making up for lost time.

"Ask my wife. I've been complaining about not having a band for years," Davies said. He'd been playing one-man coffeehouse gigs and writing his own folk songs. Now he has three musicians to play with him and write new material for.

"I was always interested in playing full-sounding songs," Davies said. "I never anticipated having people as interested in the music as I was."

Who's who: Matt Davies (songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist); Garrett Burton (electric lead and rhythm guitar); Thomas Jones (drums); Andrew Koenig (bass). Davies spoke for the band.


When formed: "We started playing about six months ago. I was renting out space in this industrial building making instrumental noise music, but I also had all these folk songs. I knew Garrett from going to have my guitars worked on over at Wade's (Guitar Shop, on the east side). Thomas came along, and Garrett was familiar with Andrew."

They say they sound like: Folkadelic.

We say they sound like: Folk rock fused with a retro rockabilly vibe, at home in a shadowy L.A. lounge, hipster hangout, or possibly a David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino flick.

Band name back story: "I thought about Earthtones 'cause that's kind of groovy and earthy, but then somebody suggested something else and somebody suggested something else, and then we said Thriftones and that seemed pretty good. There's so much used stuff nowadays, I think we've all given up on paying and going to retail stores."

Sell yourself in 20 words or less: Four individuals creating one eclectic freak of a jukebox sound.

Day jobs: Matt is unemployed, Garret is a luthier at Wade's Guitar Shop, Tom is a paramedic and emergency medical tech, and Andrew works in the produce department at a local Sendik's.

People may be surprised to know you love: Martin Denny. He did these weird lounge songs where you'd hear a bird or monkey in the background. I'm really impressed every time I get one of his records.

Describe your look: Our wardrobe is always climate appropriate.

Favorite food on the road: Anything spicy.

Unofficial band beverage: Good ol' Coca-Cola Classic

First gig: It was Aug. 6 up in Two Rivers at an outdoor concert put on by some friends of mine. It was fun. Then after we ended, we asked where else we could play, and people said we could go to this high school reunion also in Two Rivers. So we set up that night again at a different venue and played another set.

Song you've written that you're most proud of: "Anywhere, USA" is a pretty good song. The lyrics are about making things better and taking responsibility for your community, or in lieu of that, accepting that things aren't always shiny and new. The music sounds positive and upbeat.

Favorite live cover: Right now it's a song called "Trouble in Mind." It's one of those old blues standards. I've played it for years solo. I introduced it to the band as something unique to run through. Andrew suggested adding a New Orleans two-step, something like that, so we threw that in the middle. It's fun to play, and it's right up Garret's alley and with Thomas crashing in on the intro to each verse.

Biggest band achievement: Filling up a bar with people and playing to a crowd of dancing patrons.

Dream tour: A good goal would be to take a tour down through Mississippi, Memphis, New Orleans and come back through Nashville.

Where do you want to be in five years? I'd like to be playing music maybe three nights a week and be able to afford that and be able to just focus on music. If we can get to the point where music was our business, I see no reason why these guys can't keep creating really good sounds.

Why do you do this? I have a piano in my apartment now, and when I wake up I like to play, and inevitably I try to add words to the notes that I'm playing. Your emotions are unavoidable, and if you can try to sort through them with music, it's a great thing to do.

- Piet Levy, Special to the Journal Sentinel