My Inspiration: Matt Van Duppen of Thornhill

We’ve seen Matt Van Duppen tear up stages in his role of Thornhill‘s guitarist – complete with that signature spin and kick move in “Lavender”.  He’s half of the guitar team for the Melbourne band, crafting intricate riffage alongside Ethan McCann. You can also find him playing guitar for Better Half, as well as in managerial roles for bands like Weighbridge, not to mention spot him in crowds at gigs most weekends (back when we had them). This is a guy who’s clearly fully invested in music who does a lot for the Melbourne alternative and heavy music scene.  So let’s get curious: Where did Matt’s love for music begin? And what inspired him to play an instrument?

Matt narrowed his inspiration down to two bands that were important for him; Green Day and The Story So Far, saying that both were equally meaningful for him, at two different stages of his life. He says “Green Day were the first band I really loved and listened to religiously. I was eight when American Idiot came out and I remember getting the CD and a Discman for my birthday. I listened to it on repeat in the car for five hours on the way to a family holiday, and the same on the way back. I also still remember begging mum to buy me their whole back catalogue after listening to them all in Sanity back when you could try CDs in-store before buying. I only really go back to them for a nostalgia fix these days but they definitely started my love for alternative music.”


As for The Story So Far, they came later for Matt and were important in their inspiration for him to become a musician, as well as the organic discovery of other great bands, not to mention gaining a wider view of the scene in question. Matt calls their debut album Under Soil and Dirt a ‘game changer’, and says how it “made me decide on the spot that I wanted to play in a band. I was completely hooked by the attitude in the vocal delivery and the way the crowd would respond to it. When I first saw the footage of one of their early shows at 924 Gilman, it was something so new and exciting for me that straight away I found myself going down the rabbit hole of finding all of these new bands like Basement, Citizen, Title Fight, Balance and Composure, and really getting into the new world of labels like Pure Noise, Run For Cover and the like. They were the gateway band that introduced me to all of my favourite bands and that scene in general, and I would still consider them my number one today.”

When asked about what it was that had these bands resonate so strongly with him, Matt sees parallels with the attitude and personality in the vocals of the two. There was also an instant appeal in the ‘something new’ that both offered him at the time he discovered them. When it came to Green Day, Matt shared the kid innocence of their appeal, saying “It was really just about it being electric guitars and thinking Billie Joe’s hair looked cool.”

The Story So Far were a step up from what he’d already liked about Green Day, and Matt appreciated “a sense of nostalgia but a new take on the genre at the same time, with smaller and crazier crowds that I hadn’t ever seen before.” As a teenager, he’d also enjoyed being into something that was different to what everyone else was into at the time. In his own words, “I think there was also that fact of being a teenager and that I finally found a new ‘thing’ that could be unique to me and separate myself from the other people in my year level at school. It sounds so lame putting it that way, but I think that’s what every teenager goes through at some point; the disposition of wanting to fit in and copy what everyone else likes versus wanting to be your own person and stand out from the crowd. For me, this was my own little quirk and it made me want to be a part of a music scene like that and led me down the path that I’m still going down today.”


By way of releases aside from Under Soil and Dirt and American Idiot, Matt says that Green Day’s 1994 album Dookie was a significant one. “That was the second album of theirs I listened to after American Idiot and got instantly hooked. “Longview” in particular was constantly on repeat and it made me idolise Mike Dirnt. I originally wanted to play bass instead of guitar because of that song, but I was forced into guitar lessons instead.”

And with The Story So Far, it was What You Don’t See. Describing the band’s second album as ‘incredible’, Matt says “It cemented their place as my new favourite band and was a huge influence for myself and all the other guys when we started a pop punk band in the same year. It wasn’t overly different to Under Soil and Dirt, just a bit more refined and a little cleaner production-wise, which I loved. “Face Value” was my personal favourite from that record and I think hugely underrated.”


Though Matt doesn’t feel that Thornhill’s sound is directly influenced by either of these two bands, he sees that there’s influence to be taken from how they perform live. In his view, “Green Day’s ability to command a large crowd and really put on a ‘performance’ for the whole crowd rather than just the front row is one that I think only a handful of top level artists have been able to do effectively, especially bands from a punk background where these types of large performances are not overly common. On the other side, The Story So Far’s ability to get small crowds to do what they want them to do, with little to no prompting, is something that I don’t think I’ve seen many bands be able to replicate to the same degree. Taking influence from both sides of the performance spectrum is something that I think we look to do at all of our shows.”

I think I speak for all of us when I say we can’t wait to see Thornhill in action on a stage again, when the time comes. Fingers crossed that their shows with In Hearts Wake, Gravemind, and Drown This City go ahead in March! In the meantime, listen to The Dark Pool and stalk the band via Facebook.

[Photo credit: Liam Davidson]
Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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