Matt Hunter & the Dusty Fates

Matt Hunter & the Dusty Fates formed just before the pandemic, as a vehicle for longtime indie rock musician Matt Hunter to lead a band again. 

“The idea for the Dusty Fates is that it would be an unstable, constantly changing cast of people, with me as the sole full-time member,” said Hunter. “I love the idea that a band’s dynamic can constantly be in flux, based on whoever’s around, who wants to play at a given time, and who might be best for a particular song.”

“It means that your songs can be completely different every time they’re performed, and you have to be ready for that. I find that thrilling.”

Hunter has a long pedigree in underground rock music. He was a co-founder of Western Massachusetts’ New Radiant Storm King, which put out nine records on many different labels over 20 years. The band toured extensively, playing with bands like Guided By Voices, Grifters, Polvo, Built to Spill, and many others. 

Independently, Hunter has played or recorded with J. Mascis & the Fog, Silver Jews, King Missile, the Wharton Tiers Ensemble, and SAVAK, and also is in New York City’s The Whimbrels. His first solo record, New Rotations, was released on Darla several years ago.

For his latest album, and the first one to appear under the “Dusty Fates” moniker, he recruited drummers Roger Murdock (of King Missile) and Hampus Öhman-Frölund. Hunter handled most of the guitar and bass duties, but other friends were brought along to fill various roles – including a number of NYC luminaries.

Hunter’s former (and sometimes current) New Radiant Storm King bandmate Peyton Pinkerton added chiming Irish concert scale bouzouki to the dreamy “Sandcastle Row.” Dave Rick, of NYC legends King Missile and Phantom Tollbooth, added his unique squealing guitar sounds to “Narrator.” Gerard Smith, formerly also of Phantom Tollbooth and the Royal Arctic Institute, added bass to “Narrator” and “Take Your Sweet Time.” Robert Poss, of Band of Susans, added drone and noise to “Weed Garden.” Matt Sutton’s jarring and anxious pedal steel added a unique flavor to “Reindeer Soul,” and Jennifer Coates’ Appalachian-tinged pentatonic violin playing appear all over the album. Jim Santo, co-producer, engineer, and mixer, added guitar on many tracks, bass on a few, and helped make the entire thing happen.

“I think this approach really worked on this record. The songs are really diverse stylistically, and the variety of players pushed things in directions I didn’t expect. But despite that, emotionally the record feels coherent, all of a single piece.”

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