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Mike Santillo Finds Creative Freedom with Matches Laces

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Mike Santillo, former frontman of The Tins, has been working on a recording project known as Matches Laces. We caught up with Santillo in an intimate setting at The Hostel during a Sunday afternoon show that he played with Adelaide and Birddog, which also aimed to spread word of the crisis of looming closure faced by the venue and popular hub for visitors from abroad and domestic. Santillo — who also co-owns Mammoth Recording Studio in Buffalo with Justin Smith — seemed at ease in this new chapter of his career, which he discussed before show time.)

1120: What’s it like being post-Tins?


I think it’s mostly good. I definitely miss playing live shows with the band from time to time, but overall, I feel I have more creative freedom and more time… So, it feels like I have more, I guess, breathing room in my life. And I’m still able to be creative and play shows. It’s a different kind of thing playing solo, and I’ve tried to have loops and things like that to fill it out.


1120: Tell us a little more about Matches Laces. Where does the name come from and what is it about?


It’s mostly a recording project, because everything I’m writing, I kind of write and record as I write. The songs kind of write themselves as I’m recording and adding layers. The live performance is a little different because I’m trying, in some ways, to recreate what I’m doing on the record, but it’s just me, so the only way to do that is to add loops and layer them.


The name actually came from Adam, from The Tins (who performs locally as asalone). We were watching a horror anthology called “From Beyond the Grave” in college. So this is a long time ago, and there’s this one scene, in one of the shorts, there’s this guy in England and he’s selling matches and laces and he’s just like “Matches! Laces!” He’s got a little booth in a square and he’s just selling simple things and at the time I remember turning to Adam and saying, “That’s a good band name!”


For whatever reason I’ve just held on to it since then and I just kind of like the way it sounds. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other meaning, but I liked the association of the two words, and I liked that it came from a random incident where we watched this show.


1120: So, you’ve been playing intimate shows with similar lineups. Birddog, Adelaide. How’d you get on to that track?


I haven’t tried to book any shows. People have just asked me if I want to play and I’ve said “yes” to most of them, so I really haven’t played that many shows. A few at Nietzsche’s — for some reason it always ends up being Nietzsche’s — and now one here (The Hostel). But other than that, I haven’t done much live shows.


1120: Future plans?


Well, I have an EP finished, self-titled, just Matches Laces EP, and I have vinyl being made. So, this year, either summer or fall, I just want to release that record and see what happens. See who hears it. That’s what I’m focusing on mostly. Getting a recording out there.




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