April 15, 2017 – Matt Holt (Nothingface) was born Matthew Francis Holt on May 28, 1977 near Gaithersburg, Maryland and was raised there and in nearby Germantown, just north of Washington DC.
While in high school he met Tommy Sickles through mutual friends. Holt, Sickles, and two other friends formed the band Ingredient 17, in which he played guitar and sang. After playing a show with a band known as Nothingface, the two bands became familiar with one another. A short while later Ingredient 17 was later recording in Nothingface bassist Bill Gaal’s studio when Nothingface’s vocalist, David Gabbard, left the band citing musical differences. One day Holt came in to record a song for Ingredient 17, and the band members of Nothingface liked his voice, so they “took” him from his band and got their new singer. The original NOTHINGFACE lineup included Matt Holt (vocals), Bill Gaal (bass), Chris Houck (drums) and Tom Maxwell (guitar).
Nothingface didn’t have things easy in the first few years.The band distinguished themselves by avoiding the then prevalent Rap-Metal bandwagon, offering Hardcore laced, aggressive modern Metal. NOTHINGFACE debuted with a brace of albums, 1997’s ‘Pacifier’ on the Dcide label and follow up ‘An Audio Guide To Everyday Atrocity’ released by Mayhem in September 1998 and followed up with a tour along side Ministry in ’99.
In 2000, Nothingface signed a deal with TVT, releasing their label debut Violence, but inner-band turmoil reared it’s ugly head. Drummer Houck was replaced by Tommy Sickles, Holt’s former Ingredient 17 band-mate. And then, after all of the touring, the band felt slighted by the lax media marketing of Violence, and fired their management. Many a personal travesty ensued, but the guys pulled through to record their latest album, Skeletons just the same.
Switching to the TVT label NOTHINGFACE gained enhanced exposure through the Drew Mazurek produced 2000 album ‘Violence’. However, the band’s stability fractured and Houck, suffering from high blood pressure, made way for Tommy Sickles. Gaal departed too, opting to pursue a career on the other side of the mixing desk and the band pulled in erstwhile DEADLIGHTS man Jerry Montano as substitute. However, Montano – subsequently joining DANZIG’s touring line up – was forced out to make space for a returning Gaal. NOTHINGFACE’s fourth album, “Skeletons”, was finally released in April 2003 via TVT Records.
Following a decade of activity, releasing four studio albums – Pacifier, An Audio Guide to Everyday Atrocity, Violence, and Skeletons – Nothingface disbanded on February 10, 2004. Shortly after, Holt joined a band Perfect Enemy which soon became Kingdom of Snakes, formed by Bill Gaal, former bass player of Nothingface. Holt later left the band to pursue other musical routes.
Guitarist Tom Maxwell and drummer Tommy Sickles announced the formation of COLDWHITECHRIST, a new band formation in league with the DEADLIGHTS and DANZIG credited bassist Jerry Montano. Subsequently, this project added ex-SKRAPE frontman Billy Keeton and switched names to SEVER, then to BLESSED IN BLACK.
Underscoring the tremendous volatility of egos, word arrived in November 2005 that NOTHINGFACE had reformed and would tour as support to DISTURBED in early 2006. They also released new music on their website, which revealed that Holt, Maxwell and Sickles had been working together for a while. The new look band comprised of vocalist Matt Holt, guitarist Tom Maxwell, drummer Tommy Sickles and Jerry Montano, of DANZIG and DEADLIGHTS, on bass guitar. In February 2006 the group joined SILENT CIVILIAN and CROSSBREED for a Jägermeister sponsored US tour.
During August 2006 it was revealed that guitarist Tom Maxwell and bass player Jerry Montano had teamed up with a brand new project. This studio unit involved MUDVAYNE’s vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett plus PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. In October of 2006 this unit, having commenced recording for its debut, was branded HELLYEAH. In December it was learned that Bill Gaal had forged LOVERS REVOLT in alliance with ex-PRONG guitarist Mike Longworth.
On May 24, 2008, it was announced through Blabbermouth.net as well as the band’s Myspace page that original members Bill Gaal and Chris Houck (percussion) had rejoined Nothingface. Two days later they released Nothingface in remastered form (released in vinyl at first, the digital download for the entire album came later on April 30, 2009.) This was their very first effort before Pacifier.
In February 2009, Nothingface reunited in a studio in Baltimore, Maryland. Over the course of a few weeks, they recorded instrumentals for three new songs. Later, Holt entered the studio to lay down vocals for one of the new tracks: “One Thousand Lies”.
On August 13, 2009, Maxwell announced he was leaving Nothingface and stated that Holt had not produced material. Hours later Gaal confirmed that the group had split up.
Beyond his obvious technical versatility, Holt’s contributions to the value of Nothingface were distinguished by his ability to convey a far greater range of emotion than the average metal vocalist and his bleak lyrical point-of-view. Holt was a huge part of the band’s appeal. The paranoia and frustration he expressed in his lyrics was highly relatable to a pissed-off teenage, with his on-the-dime shifts between murderous rage and angsty melody.
Holt died in his Frederick, Maryland, home on April 15, 2017, at the age of 39 after years of battling an undisclosed degenerative illness.
Do you still believe that the industry treats you nothing short of cattle with dollar signs branded on your asses?!“Yes. Every single one of us, from the guy in the smallest band to the guy in the biggest band. That’s all we are. The definition of a musician to a record label is ‘a person that creates a product for us to sell.’ In any other branch of business, we would be considered engineers and taken care of very well. But, to a record label, musicians are a dime a dozen. And, there’s no kind of medical benefits, no dental benefits, but everyone who works for the label gets them. It’s funny, because the record label wouldn’t exist without musicians to write the music for them to sell. So, we are all completely disposable. So, the music business is not a musician friendly place. I mean, there is just so much deceit and crap that’s always there and never goes away. And, the record labels don’t care. Everyone is very image conscious and it’s going to go away. Not until the music industry is unionized and musicians actually get together and start taking care of one another! And, that’s hard to do.”
How would you describe your music and what, if any, messages are you trying to get across? “Our music is kind of schizophrenic. We kind of have a multiple personality disorder when it comes to our music. We can’t decide if we are a metal band, or a melodic rock band, or a punk band and whatever else. Lyrically, our music goes from very fictitious things to the church to government!”