There’s nothing quite like a pro wrestling-themed, drum machine grindcore band, which is exactly what’s on the menu with Columbus, Ohio trio Matsunaga Was Right and their new album, Kings of the Deathmatch.
The members of Matsunaga Was Right—vocalist Kyo, guitarist Bobby Dabs and guitarist/drum programmer Shep—are midwest extreme metal veterans, playing in numerous bands over the past two decades. Though the trio started the project because Kyo and Shep didn’t want a good band name to go to waste, Matsunaga Was Right have caught attention online for their over-the-top grind and lyrics about independent deathmatch wrestling (like you might have seen on AEW last month or in this VICE documentary).
Kings of the Deathmatch contains fifteen songs but runs for less than 10 minutes. The album is out on September 3 via Horror Pain Gore Death, but you can stream the album and read an interview with the band now.
What inspired you to start a deathmatch-themed grind band? Surely that’s even less marketable than normal for grindcore.
Shep: The name came first. It was a sweet name and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So Kyo and I hatched the idea for the theme and told Bobby he’s playing guitar too. I don’t care about the marketability. I’m just having a good time with my friends.
Kyo: At this point, we’re all just having fun with combining our love for pro wrestling, deathmatches and extreme music. The Midwest grind scene from my experience is full of wrestling lovers but it’s not for everyone. Luckily, we’ve broken into the deathmatch wrestling scene online with Facebook groups and going to deathmatch shows of late locally.
What are your musical influences? Have the members of the band played in other projects before?
Shep: Early ’00s USBM, Crowbar, Pantera, nu-metal, Hank Williams, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash. I’ve been in bands off and on for 21 years.
Kyo: Agathocles, Dahmer, Regurgitate, Excruciating Terror; really any grindcore or goregrind bands from the last twenty to thirty years. Nu-metal, ’90s death metal, powerviolence and black metal. My main project has been a goregrind band called Couple Skate for the past decade. I was in a short lived DSBM band with members of Sanguisugabogg called Navium. I also started an online-based project during the pandemic called Basic Torture Procedure which is straight-up Regurgitate worship.
Bobby: I’m an old head, I learned how to play guitar by learning Slayer songs when I was 14. Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Death, Morbid Angel, Repulsion, Terrorizer is what I grew up on. Just a bunch of local stuff—Remains of Eden was the first band I joined. I went on to join Pain Awaiting and that’s where I really cut my teeth playing shows and recording albums that never got released. I started Cadavarice with Mike Lare from Ringworm (Cleveland) and a ton of other great local bands in Columbus. That project is on hold for now, but I want to get it up and running again to scratch that old school Death Metal itch.
The band is named after famous Japanese deathmatch wrestler and innovator Mitsuhito Matsunaga. Why did you choose Matsunaga and what was he right about?
S: Kyo was recording vocals at my house for another project. I’d been drinking most of the day before he showed up. I don’t even remember what was said beforehand but I stopped the track and just said “Matsunaga was right,” laughed and said it would be a cool band name, then went right back to what we were doing. There was no deliberate thought behind the band name. It was a drunken off the cuff remark I thought would be a cool band name.
Have you turned any listeners into hardcore wrestling fans after they heard your music?
S: I don’t know about fans. But several of my friends have checked out deathmatches because of the band.
K: I know some have definitely been more open to it who weren’t before and some that stopped watching in the past who we’ve peaked their interest to start watching again. It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan whether it’s straight up pro wrestling or deathmatch style. Shout out to AEW, GCW, and ICW NHB for leading the way for great wrestling in 2021.
This is your second release this year; is Matsunaga Was Right a studio project or do you plan to play shows?
S: Right now, the plan is just a studio project. We aren’t against playing shows. But it needs to be worth our time. We are all old dudes who really don’t want to play on a Wednesday for six people. If the right offer came along, we’d be interested.
K: Basically what Shep said—we all work full time in the IT field so our schedules are kind of hectic at times as is. I’m also about to pick things back up with Couple Skate, which from experience playing live shows with multiple bands at the same time can be just as hectic with trying to book around life and work. We would definitely entertain the offer, maybe that along with a hotdog and handshake.
B: If something unique and fun came our way, I’d be down. A versus set against Shlak would be killer. Maybe we get Nick Gage to carve us up with a pizza cutter during our set. We play a set in the ring while there’s a deathmatch event going on around us would get me wanting to play out. I’ve put in 13 years playing shows, so now it’s gotta be something different to get me to want to play out.