ATP! Interview: Matt Flyzik
As with any touring band, crew members come and go. However, when All Time Low's former tour manager, Matt Flyzik, announced recently that he would be moving on after seven years, the fans responded as if a member of the band was leaving. This may sound extremely strange to anybody who isn't a fan of the pop/rock four-piece, but Matt wasn't just All Time Low's tour manager, he was embraced by the band and the fans as if he was their fifth member.
The 27-year-old Baltimore native is best known to any All Time Low fan for his cameos in a variety of their music videos, his love of Mickey Mouse learned from the band's "Straight To DVD" release and of course, singing back-up vocals with them on stage each night.
The news of Matt's departure came in the form of a short tweet announcing he would be leaving following All Time Low's recent fall tour with A Day To Remember, but no further explanation was provided. ATP! reached out to Matt to discuss the reasons why he decided to call it a day, his most memorable moments spent with the band, the future and much more.
Alter The Press: Why did you decide to leave All Time Low after seven years?
Matt Flyzik: 7 years and 74 days to be exact! It was something I was honestly thinking about for a while. The thing about being on tour is that it's difficult being away from home a lot and, before All Time Low, I was touring with local bands and doing my own thing. So I was on the road for almost 9 years, starting back I was 20 years old.
I just felt that I started to miss out on certain things in life. Granted I got to see whole lot more than most people get to see but just everyday things like having friends at home, being a local at a bar, sleeping in your own bed and accumulating stuff over the years like a car and just not being able to use it. So eventually I just kind of snapped and wanted to get myself out of this. And you see a lot of these crew guys who that are in their 40's and 50's and don't have a life. They don't have a wife, kids but have this cool stuff like some people collect cars but they are not able to use them.
I told myself I would be out before I was 30 and I'll be 28 this year. I just thought the time was right. All Time Low is slowing down a bit, not career wise but they just wanted to take a couple months off between their next tour so they could re-energize themselves and I thought that would be the best time to get out so I wouldn't screw them over and have time to find a replacement.
ATP: How did the band take the news once you broke it to them?
Matt: I told their manager first, about six months before I told the band, just so he had a heads up but they were all devastated and it was a good feeling for me because it made me feel very appreciated. They were pretty sad and there were some tears shed but I'll still talk to them quite a bit. I still talk to their manager everyday.
Everyone was pretty bummed. It felt like breaking up with a girlfriend but having to it twelve different times. I told their manager, I told the band four separate times and I had to tell the crew members. Everyone was just shocked and really upset.
ATP: They probably did everything they could in their power to keep you to stay on too.
Matt: There were definitely talks of what could they do to keep me around but I explained to them why I wanted to get out and they understood completely. They weren't upset with me about it, they supported my decision and were sad to see me go.
ATP: Was this a decision you were thinking about for a while?
Matt: I knew I didn't want to make a rushed decision but it crossed my mind for about a year. I wanted to sit on it for a couple more tours and thought to myself could this be the last time I am in Japan or Europe? And am I okay with that? Of course I can go over there anytime but it would be different not going together with your boys.
After I sat on it for a while, I was okay with it.
ATP: To the All Time Low fan base, you were much more than just a tour manager. You were like the fifth member of the band. Once everyone announced your departure from the team, were you expecting the response to be this huge?
Matt: Not at all. I always thought of myself as just a crew member. I'm just the guy taking care of things. I didn't even plan on announcing it on Twitter, I was just walking through a hallway one day after I told the band and just tweeted it and then it just became a thing.
The only reason these kids knew me was because All Time Low are just such good guys. Everyone who worked for them was part of the family, whether you were on stage or behind the stage. I had no idea it would turn into such a big thing. It was very humbling but also very encouraging because everyone had such nice things to say about me.
It was devastating for everyone that I was leaving but it kind of made me feel good about the reaction that happened. It was truly surprising, I had no idea that anyone would even care. You see crew members come and go all the time and then I leave, the internet explodes for a couple days.
ATP: And when you were walking around at shows, it must have felt strange when fans were asking you for pictures and autographs. That's never happens to a tour manager.
Matt: When I was 21-22 I used to take pictures with kids but when I got older, I took my job even more seriously. It was hard saying no to those things but I had to take my job serious. I really thought kids didn't like me at all! When the reaction happened, I didn't think they were going to miss me! I was surprised because I was the one who had to turn them when they couldn't ask the band for stuff.
ATP: You were the bad guy who had to tell the fans if All Time Low couldn't sign autographs, were not coming outside or not doing pictures. Little things like that.
Matt: Kids aren't supposed to like me! I'm the bad guy!
ATP: There really is no other tour manager who was involved with a band as you were. You sang with All Time Low on stage every night, name another TM who does that! How did this idea come together?
Matt: It was actually when All Time Low toured with Boys Like Girls a few years back. When the band originally met me, I was in a local band in Maryland playing shows and when we broke up, All Time Low asked me to go on tour with them, do merch and then that turns into a full time thing. Fast forward to the tour with Boys Like Girls, I guess they had a record that just came out with a bunch of more harmonies and Zack [Merrick, bass] was bummed the amount that he had to sing would take away from his presence on stage and if he had to sing all the time, he would be like Alex [Gaskarth, vocals/guitar] and be under a mic all night.
The band kind of looked at me one day and asked if they could just put a mic in front of me for me to sing in the back and I said sure thinking it would be something here and there and that turned into having a riser on stage and full on vocal parts in songs. It kind of just happened. I kind of got blind sighted by it and it turned into such a thing!
ATP: Besides singing, you've also been a couple of All Time Low music videos.
Matt: That was more just really them needing an extra real quick and it might be funny. They like doing cameos with the crew guys, I think Blink-182 did it with their wives in a couple videos, I think New Found Glory did it with their friends and us all growing up together, they thought it would be cool if they did the same.
I think in the video for "Dear Maria (Count Me In)" I'm the bunny and in a couple of the other videos, I'm playing the cheesy tour manager. That was more of me just sitting there and begin asked to do something.
ATP: There must be so many but can you pick out any of your favorite pastimes from being with All Time Low for over seven years?
Matt: Honestly, just getting to explore new cities like Russia and Japan. We would make a point of just being able to go out one night as a group, we would drink and eat. Just getting able to see the cities and take it in. It was cool being able to do it together.
We went to Mykonos, Greece once and that was honestly one of the most beautiful place I've ever been. That stands out the most because the band paid for their crew to go on vacation for a few days at one of the most beautiful places in the world. I don't know if I'll ever be able to make it back there again.
On tour, anytime there is a hospital trip or a run in with the police, that always stood out in my mind. No one ever got arrested but there have been a couple run ins with the cops. Alex and Jack [Barakat, guitar] went skinning dipping at a hotel once and the hotel didn't like it very much because all the rooms overlooked the pool, everyone could see it and the cops turned up. I had to talk them out of arresting them. Little things like that stand out because I don't know if there will be another occasion of talking the cops out of arresting friends.
There have been a couple hospital visits that also stand out in my mind. I recently went to the hospital with Rian [Dawson, drums]. I won't go into the specifics but he fell in between a staircase and a wall and had a giant hole in his leg. The ambulance driver got lost and they did his stitches wrong at the hospital.
Matt Flyizk featured in All Time Low's "Weightless" music video
The one that stands out the most was when we were in Australia and Alex had to get taken off an airplane and put on a stretcher. He was dehydrated. We spent six hours in a hospital. I've never seen anyone taken off an airplane before on a stretcher. They had to drag him out through the aisle. They can't take a stretcher on an airplane. Everyone couldn't get off the plane until he was taken off first. That experience definitely stands out the most.
ATP: Can you ever see yourself tour managing another band?
Matt: Probably not. I got so close with All Time Low that it wouldn't be the same. As I told the guys, getting off the road has nothing to do with them. I feel like it would be a slap in their faces if I did take another job with another band. If I had to tour again, I would want it to be with All Time Low.
ATP: They would have understood if you were offered a job tour managing a huge band, for sure.
Matt: It would have been really hard. There would have to be a lot of money thrown at me for me to leave All Time Low! Even if I was with a giant band and they were paying me more, it wouldn't be the same as it was with All Time Low. The guys are so family orientated, when the show was over, we all wanted to hang out with each other and when you work for bigger artists, there is such a separation between band and crew. I don't think I would enjoy working with someone else who would want to get straight to their hotel room, go see their baby-sitter. They just want you to be just their TM. I would have handled it but wouldn't enjoyed it as much.
ATP: It must be strange right now adjusting to home life after being on tour for so long?
Matt: A little bit. It feels like I'm kind of on vacation. Right now is not real home life but when they tour next without me, I think that's when it'll hit me. When they go to the UK next, I'll feel left out when following their tweets about where they are going and visiting some of our favorite spots. That's when it'll hit home. I'll be bummed.
ATP: Are they going to have somebody replace you on stage every night?
Matt: They have another guy already. There was always six of us on stage and he'll probably pick up the vocal parts and the new tour manager will just be a tour manager. They'll have a hard time finding somebody who can do both.
ATP: Do you have any idea what you're going to do next?
Matt: To be honest, not yet. I would like to stay in music. I feel like I have a met a lot of good people and have some experience. I am feeling very ambitious and encouraged to do something bigger and better then I can imagine. I'm not sure what it is yet. I actually have no idea what I'm going to do. I don't want to settle on just pushing pizzas at a venue or sitting on a desk all day long. I want to make a name for myself in the industry from the other side. It's good I'm on vacation mode right now because it's giving me a lot of time to think about it.
- Jon Ableson