The rockin world has changed some what over the years. For awhile there seemed to only be just “normal” rockabilly bands. Stand up bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. Seemed people almost forgot that early rock n roll contained powerful boogie woogie piano. From Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, to the obscure Roddy Jackson and Micke Muster(he was later but bear with me here). Snakes alive!(Aussie slang term, I’m becoming more cultured by the minute) I was shocked to find out about Ezra Lee (and his super talented Havoc band). An ivory tickling Aussie that recently played at this years VIVA 19. Recently he agreed to answer some questions for me and my readers. What transpired is below.
Rockabilly Nerd: Thanks for agreeing to answer some question for Rockabilly Nerd. I gotta start by asking how you got into playing piano pounding rock n roll?
Ezra Lee :Thank you brother, no probs. My dad Ed Matzenik started the Aussie surf band the Atlantic’s in the 50s, worked for ‘The Who’ in England in the 60s as a record engineer and had a country music studio called Enrec that recorded mostly aboriginal country singers in the 80s. He also saw all the first generation rockers in the 1950s in Sydney. So music and rock ‘n’ roll history was always around me. My first records I remember hearing was Moon Mullican and Bill Haley. My dad plays guitar, bass and pedal steel and showed me some stuff on piano as a real young kid – last date by Floyd Cramer and I’ve played for 8 hours a day and researched the shit out of american music, boogie woogie, and ragtime wild & raw piano has always got me no matter what time period. I also used to sing and I wanted to sound like Little Richard gospel shouting and Lefty Frizzell 40’s style honky-tonk.
Rockabilly Nerd: For anyone reading that isn’t familiar with your style, how would you describe your music?
Ezra Lee: It’s hard for me to say, because I play so many styles and on some albums I lean toward blues, r&b and on others I’ve gone for more americana, rockabilly, honky-tonk. i would describe my style as Ezra Lee style !! No one else can play it in my way so that’s why I say it !!
RN: I got to catch your set at VIVA in the front! Great show! Did you enjoy this years event? (we were actually at the same Days Inn and but didn’t pass each other)
Ezra Lee: I had a blast, we sold a ton of albums after the set and people remembered me throughout the event. i love the cars and clothes too. But being on stage and kickin’ ass and knowing I’m connecting is the greatest. That’s why I do it ! It’s not for the money – it’s seeing people’s faces when they hear that rockin’ piano !!
RN: I missed out on this. But how did you like playing in So Cal afterwards? Any difference in American audiences to Australia ?
EL: We played for Charles Russell’s in Bell Garden at the Hall that Eddie Cochran played his first show in and the next day we played at Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank and the crowds were wild ! I can’t wait to come back again with my band Ezra Lee and the havoc band. I think the USA has the greatest rockin’ scene!
RN: Who would win in a fight? You or Jerry Lee Lewis?
EL: You mean if I was 80? Or if he was 30? Haha. I met him in 2011 at Viva Las Vegas and he was a gentleman and still has the fire that he always had. I think the killer is the greatest !
RN: Finally, anything you would like to say to people who are reading this ? I also heard somewhere you’ll be heading back to the states next year ?
EL: Yeah, thanks Billy, I hope people get a kick out of my records and want it known that we put out about two a year on the rhythm bomb records label based in Berlin. We are planning a trip in mid 2017 around Texas and a few other states in the south. Thank you for supporting us too.
Australia is a beautiful and wild place with huge deserts and creatures that will kill you at every turn haha but has a really great rockabilly and blues scene. If you get a chance to experience Australia you should get down under!
Once again I would like to thank Ezra Lee for taking time out to talk to little ol’ me. You can purchase his albums from Rhythm Bomb HERE! Go LIKE Ezra Lee and the Havoc Band on Facebook HERE. While you’re at it, go LIKE the official Rockabilly Nerd Facebook page HERE.
Come back next time when I go into witness protection after Jerry Lee Lewis reads this page.