Matthew Knights



Short bio/discography

Born in 1963 at Marion SC, Matthew began playing drums as a teenager then switched to guitar at 17, when he began writing songs. His first club gig was at Arthur’s in Spartanburg SC in 1983.

 He has performed at countless clubs around SC, including the seminal DawgGone in Sptbg, where he was, at various times,  a doorman, janitor, soundman, talent buyer, bartender, cook, dishwasher, and regular performer.

 Matthew has played Rockafella’s, Music Farm, Clancy’s, Art Bar, WindJammer, Myskins, Greenstreets, Studio B, Al’s Pumphouse, NuWay Lounge, Group Therapy, The Peddler, Downtown Alive, Spring Fling, Wofford College, Converse College, USC, Sherman College, and countless other clubs, festivals and schools in SC, as well as The Milestone, Double Door, the Brewery, Be Here Now, Bele Chere, Belmont Abbey, LAB, and others in NC, the Cotton Club, the Point, Smith’s, the Star Bar, and more in GA, Madame Wong’s (both), Cathay DeGrande, the Central and The Gaslight in LA.

 Matthew has performed with various bands and artists over the years, including Baker Maultsby. RAIL, The Rage of Europe, Mill Billy Blues, Tom and the Teenagers, Jason Ringenberg, David Ezell, Fayssoux McLean, Fluffy, the Ex-Presidents, and his current outfit, Matthew Knights and the Witnesses. He has appeared on recordings for Bruce Joyner and the Plantations, Baker Maultsby, RAIL, John Edgerton, Matthew Knights, Mill Billy Blues, Beau Hall, FLUFFY, the Ex-Presidents and others.

  Matthew has written well over 200 songs, and continues to write, record, and perform. He is the owner of County Line Sound Studio in Chesnee SC, where he has recorded and/or mixed/produced recordings for Angela Easterling, The Antibodies, John Edgerton, David Ezell, Beau Hall, Mill Billy Blues, Richie Tipton, Brandy Lindsey and the Punch, and Freddie Vandeford, and others.

 Matthew is currently working on a recording of new songs for release in 2014, recording to analog tape at his studio in SC.

Matthew Knights

In his book Hub City Music Makers, Nashville music critic Peter Cooper describes Knights as "the man who may be South Carolina's greatest rock songwriter." Knights is adherent to the American songwriting tradition of Hank Williams, of Dylan, of the blues. In some ways his sound is a throwback, drawing equally from Bruce Springsteen's rock anthems, Steve Earle's poetry-meets-twang, and Paul Westerberg's lyrical punk genius. But it isn't just the stylistic intentions of Knights' music; it's the substance. There are countless bands w/ a good song or two. Knights has written many good songs and more than a few great ones.              

Matthew B Knights

Matthew Knights Williams has had his share of life-altering experiences during the past few years. The Cowpens-based singer-songwriter dealt with the death of a longtime friend in 2003, learned the identity of his biological father four years later and fathered his own child in between. "My perspective on life has changed completely over the past few years", said Williams, who recently took his biological father s surname. "It started with some psychiatric help, and then the child coming really changed me. And then learning about my father was completely profound. It turned my life around 180 degrees". Williams, described in writer Peter Cooper s 1997 book, Hub City Music Makers, as the Patron Sinner of Spartanburg Rock and Roll, was a self-admitted wild child whose potential for musical success was often damaged by his lack of self-discipline. It s impossible to listen to his new album, Cottonwood, and not be struck by the deeply personal nature of its nine songs, which contain lyrics dealing with death, pain, struggle and redemption. "When my friend John Threlkeld died, I started thinking about him, Spartanburg and all the crazy stuff he and I had done and been through", said Williams, 45. "So, it was real introspective, and some of the songs are sort of imagining me and him meeting again at the great eternity we're all going to meet, the final end". Musically, the album is chock full of exquisite folk-pop and bare-bones rock n roll that draws from influences ranging from Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty to the Replacements and the Accelerators. Still, Williams powerful lyrics are what make Cottonwood shine as a local singer-songwriter masterpiece. "I figure if I can be personal and go deep with my songs, someone can relate to it", Williams said. "I don't try to write songs for appeal or any kind of value other than how it makes me feel. There are two types of writing. There s commercial writing, and there s art writing. I m squarely into art writing. I don t care anything about commercial songwriting. I just write to clear the decks and clean out the cobwebs in my mind". Williams grew up on his biological father's farm in Marion, knowing Lance Williams as nothing more than "a great old dude who was like a granddaddy to me". "Finding out he was my father was really profound because everything came back to me", said Williams, whose father died in 1982 at the age of 81. "I remembered all the things he did for me when I was a kid. He took me to the cattle auction, bought me my first single-shot rifle when I was 6 and just taught me everything about working and being a man". Williams began writing songs and making music in the 1980s, playing in such seminal Spartanburg bands as Fluffy and the Ex-Presidents after a stint as the drummer in the Rage of Europe, a regionally successful post-punk band that also included David Ezell and Jim Orr. "Playing (in the Rage of Europe) probably had the biggest influence on me as far as being a songwriter and musician because those guys were such subtle, great masters, just fantastic", Williams said. These days, Williams carries himself in a mild-mannered way that offers virtually no trace of his reckless past. "I'm no longer an angry young man", Williams said. "I've got a beautiful wife and a beautiful baby, and my life is just wonderful. I m finally happy. I’ve got a nice farm out here, and I'm back home with all my friends". --Spartanburg Herald Journal            

Matthew Knights more....

Popular music history is rife with stories documenting an artist's meteoric rise, brief success and the supposedly inevitable crash. The usual suspects, youth, arrogance and substance abuse almost always have a hand in extinguishing the brightest lights and silencing the biggest voices.

In 1985, Matthew Knights, just a little over 20 years old, was looking at a promising music career. He signed with a Raleigh, NC management company, that also managed indie darlings Flat Duo Jets, and Accelerators, and was opening for national acts, shopping tunes, and attracting major label interest.

"We had Warner Bros, Atlantic, Chrysalis, CBS, Epic, A&M, etc...had folks flying in from LA to see me," Knights said.

His star was so bright his former manager, Dick Hodgin, passed on Hootie and The Blowfish to concentrate on Knights because he was the one who would be signed and sell "tons of records," Knights said.

Hodgin recently reminisced about Knight's burning star.

"Matthew was such a fresh alternative voice back then. I remember loving his voice and songwriting. On stage, he was a blend of old school punk attitude with a country drawl and rock star delivery. He was so engaging to watch. Multi-talented, he understood the 'engine' of rock and roll."

For Knights, everything was in place.

But, It didn't happen. Drugs happened. His career and life began to slide out of control. He began to self-destruct.

Almost 30 years later, I sat down with Matthew Knights at his County Line Recording Studio, in Chesnee, S.C. to talk about this period, his rise from the ashes, and redemption. Carolina Mixer August 2013

See video here: