Rene Mata remembers youthful car rides to North Carolina and being tortured.

“My parents used to torture me with ‘Born in the USA’, ABBA,” recalls Mata, who said he’d be belting out Motley Crüe.

So then, it may come as a bit of a surprise that Mata—who calls among his friends members of such acts as POD and Linkin Park and has rubbed shoulders with Hollywood A-listers Michael Fassbender and Billy Crudup—answers in a heartbeat “Bruce Springsteen” when asked the most awestruck he’s been meeting a musician.

“I didn’t get (Springsteen when I was young),” says Mata. “When I got him, I went head-in. This guy’s such a poet, a performer, he runs circles around some of these young guys. I met him and it was pretty insane. I was nervous, but he put me at ease.”

Now, Mata is back pulling executive duty with his band ReachNYC.

ED Magazine spoke with Mata, on behalf of, about producing “Grey Daze”, one of Chester Bennington’s band before Linkin Park; getting back onstage after a 15-year pause and ReachNYC’s single “Back From the Dead.”

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ED: Rene, what pulled you out of your depression and inspired you to executive produce “Grey Daze”?
MATA: Chester’s good friend Shawn Dowdell, we set up a call and he sent me some music from the project and I was like ‘There’s no one better that could do this than me. All we did was talk about music. We were geeks when it came to music. He was my biggest fan, I was his biggest fan. The last song he ever sang was Mark Morton, “Cross Off,” I got him to do that and Jacoby to do his track on that.

I don’t care what musician you are, taking lessons is not a bad thing, it only helps your craft. Always get better. — Rene Mata, ReachNYC

ED: Rene, what’s it like to be back in this band after you guys disbanded in 2004?
MATA: It’s a great story of friendship. Dante was in the band and a month before we got our record deal, he quit the band in 2001. He didn’t get a chance to go out to LA and record and do all that stuff. But when we think of Reach, we always think of Dante as the real drummer. He missed that whole part of that ride. This guy’s been one of my close friends for 20-something years. One of the reasons we did this was we felt like we didn’t have an ending, a resolution. We needed that and I needed to take this ride with him. He’s an integral part of the band. When we were signed, I felt like we were missing that integral part.

ED: Can you take me back to the nerves/state of mind when you’re opening for POD in NYC last year after a 15-year hiatus?
MATA: I was like ‘God, this is so easy.” I don’t even get nervous. Honestly, I’ve helped so many bands get signed, I have to literally give my opinion every day, ‘Like, guy, you need a vocal coach.’ I don’t care what musician you are, taking lessons is not a bad thing, it only helps your craft. Always get better. The only thing I was nervous about, I had my iPhone on me because I couldn’t remember my own words, I felt like I was gone so long. I didn’t screw up though. I had my friend, with the phone in the front row—if I point to you, put it up! That’s just me being honest. I could have mumbled on key and people would have been like ‘that was amazing.’ It was so much fun because the POD guys, I’ve A&Red two of their records and about to A&R their next record. They’re like my brothers.

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ED: Have you turned to music even more these past few months with the COVID pandemic as a means of escape, stress/boredom relief, etc.?
MATA: I think I’ve used music as an escape since I was three years old. The first record my parents bought was Kiss’ “Dressed to Kill.’

ED: How did Jacoby Shaddix enter the conversation for “Back From the Dead”?
MATA: Jacoby’s one of my best friends. They opened up for us before their record came out in 2000 at CBGBs. He sang on the Reach record, “Lava”—we’ve just been friends. I remember when my record came out in 2003, Jacoby called me up and was like ‘I want to bring you guys on tour.’ We were such good friends and we supported each other.

ED: StripJoints services DJs at gentlemen’s clubs nationwide, so why would “Back From the Dead” be a good choice to play at a gentlemen’s club?
MATA: Because you can move to it, you can sing to it, you can make love to it.


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