Matt Sweeney

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Matt Sweeney
Sweeney performing with Chavez in 2011
Background information
Born (1969-07-02) July 2, 1969 (age 54)
New Jersey, United States
Occupation(s)Musician, record producer
Years active1989–present

Matt Sweeney (born July 2, 1969) is an American musician and record producer best known as a guitarist of Skunk, Chavez, and supergroup Zwan.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Sweeney was born in New Jersey. His father was John D. Sweeney, a professor of Medieval English at Seton Hall University who was also an avid musician.[2][3] His mother, Katharine Sweeney Hayden, is a federal judge.[4] Sweeney's parents divorced after 20 years of marriage.[5] He has an older brother, Gregory Sweeney, who is a musician who works on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares.[2][4]

He grew up in Maplewood and South Orange, New Jersey. He attended Northwestern University before dropping out.[4]


Sweeney's high school band Skunk released two albums on Twin/Tone records ("Last American Virgin" in 1989 and the posthumous "Laid", both out of print). In the nineties he recorded and performed as a singer and guitarist with math rock band Chavez, releasing a seven-inch ("Repeat the Ending" b/w "Hack the Sides Away") two albums (1995's Gone Glimmering and 1996's Ride the Fader) and one EP (1995"s Pentagram Ring) on the Matador label. Chavez did several short tours in the United States and Europe between 1994 and 1997.[6] When Chavez slowed down Sweeney filled in on bass guitar for Guided By Voices on the "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars" tour. He also provided vocals on the song "Quicksilver" on Guided By Voices leader Robert Pollard's first solo album Not in My Airforce LP. The late '90s found him continuing to work a day job and touring with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy as a guitarist.

Sweeney's work has taken him across a variety of musical genres. Starting in 2000 he turned up on Cat Power's The Covers Record, playing guitar on "Salty Dog", and a couple of Bonnie "Prince" Billy singles (percussion on "A Whorehouse Is Any House" and guitar and vocals on "Little Boy Blue"). In 2001 he started playing and writing with Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin in what was to become Zwan. He collaborated with Billy Corgan on the soundtrack to the movie Spun, singing the movie's opening song, a cover of Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast". He was also featured as a guitarist and backing vocalist on Bonnie "Prince" Billy's Ease Down The Road album. He lent a helping hand to Dave Grohl in assembling the all-star heavy metal album Probot, tracking down the legendary singers and providing some guitar work (the Probot album was not released until 2004, on Southern Lord records). Sweeney recorded and toured with Zwan from late 2001–2003. He is credited as providing guitar, vocal, and some songwriting on Zwan's album Mary Star of the Sea.

After Zwan's breakup, Sweeney played guitar with Bonnie "Prince" Billy for several tours in 2004. January 2005 saw the release of their collaboration Superwolf on Drag City.[7][8] Sweeney and Bonnie toured behind the Superwolf record in the U.S. and Europe. 2005 also saw Sweeney producing heavy metal band Early Man's debut album, Closing In. The following year found Sweeney working in both the country music and hip-hop scenes, providing guitar work, along with Mike Campbell and Smokey Hormel, on the Johnny Cash album American V: A Hundred Highways and appearing with Yo La Tengo bass player James McNew and Def Jux founder El-P, as guest artists on the first track of rapper Cage's album Hell's Winter. He also played guitar on the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way album. In addition, he became a member of apocalyptic Christian folk legends Current 93's touring group, playing shows in Europe in support of the Black Ships Ate The Sky album. He also recorded with longtime friend Andrew W.K. for W.K.'s Close Calls With Brick Walls album.

In 2007 Sweeney again collaborated with El-P, this time alongside Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala of Mars Volta, on El-P's 2007 album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead.

In early 2009 Sweeney formed The Brill Sisters with Andrew W.K. and producer Don Fleming. They played their first show (without Fleming) at Santos Party House on April 2, 2009.[9][10] The entire group performed on April 21.[11]

In 2016, Sweeney toured with Iggy Pop, Josh Homme as well as Matt Helders to support their album Post Pop Depression.[12]

Production work[edit]

Sweeney produced Dax Riggs' album We Sing of Only Blood or Love in 2007 for Fat Possum records. In late 2007, along with Bonnie 'Prince" Billy, Sweeney produced Baby Dee's debut album for Drag City Records, Safe Inside the Day. The album was released in January 2008.

Sweeney is credited for "wry guitar licks" on an album for NYC heavy blues rockers Endless Boogie, called "Focus Level." It is rumored he produced the album as well. He also turned up on the Six Organs of Admittance's LP Shelter from the Ash. In addition, Sweeney has songwriting credit on certain pressings of Cat Power's Jukebox album, for "Song to Bobby." He is also credited as an additional guitarist on that album.

Session work[edit]

In tune with his many collaborations, an unlikely combination of Sweeney and Neil Diamond was proposed by seminal producer Rick Rubin in 2008 to follow up Diamond's Rubin-produced 2005 album 12 Songs.[13] The 2008 album Home Before Dark, released on May 12, features Sweeney on all songs.

Sweeney also plays guitar on Kid Rock's 2010 album Born Free.




  • Gone Glimmering (1995) Matador
  • Ride The Fader (1996) Matador
  • Better Days Will Haunt You best-of compilation CD/DVD (2006) Matador
  • Repeat the Ending EP (1994) Matador
  • Pentagram Ring EP (1995) Matador
  • What's Up Matador? feat. "Theme from 'For Russ'" (1995) Matador
  • School House Rock feat. "Little Twelve Toes" (1996) Atlantic Records
  • Boys Making Music, Music Making Men Documentary VHS (1996) Matador
  • Cockfighters EP (2017) Matador


Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy[edit]


Other collaborations[edit]


  1. ^ Cohan, Brad (December 23, 2010). "Q&A: Chavez's Matt Sweeney On How He Ended Up Working With Josh Groban". Village Voice. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Esteban, Gabriel (September 10, 2014). "Death of Professor John D. Sweeney". Seton Hall University. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "Prof. John D. Sweeney". The Holle Family. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Maron, Marc (September 14, 2015). "Episode 637 – Matt Sweeney". WTF with Marc Maron. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  5. ^ Hoffman, Jan (October 15, 1995). "Judge Hayden's Family Values". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  6. ^ LeMay, Matt (December 8, 2006). "Interviews: Chavez". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Welch, Will (July 14, 2011). "Return of the Superwolf: An Interview with Will Oldham and Matt Sweeney". Gentleman's Quarterly. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  8. ^ Aquarium Drunkard (June 7, 2011). "Matt Sweeney :: The AD Interview". Aquarium Drunkard. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Brill Sisters (Minus One) – The Grey Funnel Line". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Brill Sisters (Minus One) – Spontaneous Boogie". YouTube. April 4, 2009. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  11. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  12. ^ "Iggy Pop and Josh Homme Team Up for Secret Album". The New York Times. January 24, 2016. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  13. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (May 13, 2008). "Matt Sweeney Makes Unlikely Neil Diamond Sideman". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  14. ^ "Forgive the City".
  15. ^ McDermott, Emily (June 18, 2015). "Exclusive Short Film Premiere: 'False True Love,' Emily Sundblad and Matt Sweeney". Interview Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2015.

External links[edit]