One of our fellow Pitch employees, Scotti Fletcher, who plays guitar in 3-Minute Hero and has been friends with Ward for ages, remembers the first time that he saw Mattes perform with the band. Fletcher says that when he was introduced to Mattes, Mattes couldn't have been nicer. As showtime approached, however, things got weird.
"Ryan was just standing at the side of the stage kind of pacing back and forth in little baby steps waiting and waiting," Fletcher says. "I was standing in the corner next to the stage and said, 'Hey, Ryan, am I safe standing right here?' He turned and looked at me like I had just raped his mother, like I was the fucking filth of the planet. I sat at the bar next to the stage and watched as they started. Ryan takes off with the microphone, jumps on the bar and goes bananas, knocking tiles out of the ceiling and kicking stuff off the bar. Not wanting him to get hurt by falling off, I kind of held my hands up just in case he lost balance and came down. He runs down the bar full speed with mic still in hand, fully decapitating everyone in his way with the mic cord and back again, myself included. That's when I said, 'Fuck him. He's on his own.'"
Shay Estes has a story corroborating Mattes' microphone-abusing tendencies. In 2002, the Silver Shore singer and solo chanteuse saw the V8s play to a crowd of about 15 at the Bottleneck.
"You've seen Ryan Mattes," she says. "You know what he can do. He'll put on a show whether there's 15 people in the audience or 500."
According to Estes, Mattes started swinging his microphone around and around ... and around and around and around and didn't really stop except when he had to growl and scream into it. By the end of the night, the microphone was dented, and the club owner wanted the V8s to pay for it. Estes says Mattes disappeared, leaving his bandmates in the lurch. Estes and the band rode back together in a friend's minivan. Afterward, she retired for the evening: "The V8s rocked me so hard, I couldn't handle anything else that night."
Golden-Hearted Whores frontman Cody Wyoming was actually in Last of the V8s way early in the game. Before leaving the band, he wrote the song "Wild in the Streets," which appears on It's On.
"I just couldn't scream as loud and constantly as they needed me to scream," says Wyoming. "The fact of the matter is that they rocked harder than me, so I bowed out. They got another singer right after me who was so terrible that I begged to be let back in the band because I couldn't believe what was happening. Once they got Ryan, though, I just became a tremendous fan."
But, to paraphrase closet V8s fan LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take any of those people's words for it. See 'em for yourself and become part of the history.