- Ryan Oleary, Friend and band mate of Matt
Matthew Hall. A eulogy by Adam Thomson. Tuesday 22nd February 2011.
by Adam Thomson on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 2:58pm
I've filled in parts since the funeral. It's quite comprehensive and a bit more personal now. Distribute it to those who missed the funeral or would generally appreciate a copy.
It has been my absolute honour to know Matt personally for the last 6 years, and to have lived with him during that time also. I’ve been asked to speak today on behalf of his close friend and flatmate Dave, and some of his other close friends.
It’s not the shortest speech, but Matt wasn’t the shortest guy.
His beer appreciation apparently started at a very young age. A few days ago we saw a photo of him for the first time that made us laugh and gave us some scope as to where it all began. In the picture he was 6 months old with his head inside a Lion Brown box. Many times he affectionately recalled the time that his Father took him to buy his first Home Brew Barrel, at about 15 years old. It was the start of an amazing career in Home Brew, which got him a lot of respect, friends, and even an award from his favourite brewing supply store, Great Expectations, for Best Home Brew Lager in New Zealand.
When I first got to know Matt socially, away from gigs, back at the Broderick Brewery, I knew I was in the presence of a true connoisseur. There was a giant bucket that lived by the fireplace, filled completely to the rim, with imported beer bottle caps. It was an impressive spectacle. Little did I know the education that I was to receive over the coming years. I dared not taint the Brewery with the presence of any cheap, local, low-quality beer. Only imported or Home Brew was allowed. I did however turn up with Tui on the odd occasion, always to a steady stream of abuse from the Head Brewer, Matt, and the Assistant Brewer, Dave.
Matt disliked New Zealand beers as a general rule for many years, until recently, when he discovered good local talent, in the form of Emerson’s, Three Boys & Renaissance beers, or Tuatara’s APA. Failing those, he would settle for Mac’s Hop Rocker, as he loved beers with a strong hops flavour. He loved hops so much that he sometimes used expensive imported varieties in his recipes, and had even started growing his own hops vine this summer. He was recently very happy with the vine’s progress and was looking forward to using Broderick Brewery’s own hops in an upcoming recipe for a beer with an overwhelming hops flavour.
Brewing made him happy, relaxed and content with himself. He had already made many successful brews, including some that were very popular amongst those of us that got to enjoy the benefits of his hard labour, intensive critiquing, and flawless brewing ethic. One notable mention is his legendary Razorback Stout, flavoured to perfection by infusing coffee beans into the brew, and using chocolate malted grains, amongst other secret ingredients in it’s complicated recipe. I had never, ever enjoyed dark beer in my life until I had a Razorback Stout. I can say without a doubt that this beer changed my entire perception of beer on the whole, let alone just dark beer. It was smooth, delicious during and after tastes, perfect head retention and no hangover was to eventuate.
Matt wouldn’t do anything by half measure, so naturally, Broderick Brewery only created Boutique Beers. I promised him a long time ago that I would design him a beer label to use. Then I quietly let him forget all about it, until one Christmas a couple of years ago when after exciting him and Dave with promises of an awesome present, I finally turned up with the finished design, in the form of a huge stack of adhesive labels ready for bottles, and 6 t-shirts that proudly displayed a blown-up version of the label, for a very select few to cherish. He told me that it was the best Christmas present he’d gotten in his entire life. There is a photo of him from that night, standing next to 5 crates of freshly labelled bottles, wearing his new Broderick Brewery shirt and singing happily, whilst holding a bottle of his own beer, of course. His smile is wide, his eyes bright and he recently had it displayed on his Facebook page with the caption: “Me overjoyed and filled with song on the Marketing Strategy Board Meeting night.”
The label itself has quite a bit of his sense of humour as inspiration. It says the following: “Highly regarded, hangover free, boutique beers. Made to German purity law specifications. All natural ingredients, including distinguished Johnsonville water.”
Broderick Brewery Beer Tasting Evenings were very special occasions, for a carefully selected panel. They would only comprise of who Matt thought would be able to critique the Brewery creations the best. He would have his writings at-the-ready. Each beer was numbered and dated, to which a corresponding page in the Brewery recipe book comprehensively detailed the ingredients, the step-by-step process involved in its brewing, and it’s maturing time. He would wait patiently, with pen at the ready, harvesting our brains and palettes of all they’d perceived.
He’d recently discovered a Boutique Beer bar called Hashigo Zake, which replaced his previous favourite Boutique Beer vendor, Regional Wines & Spirits on the Basin Reserve. It instantly became his new favourite drinking establishment, outside of the Brewery. I would sometimes pick him up from there, late at night, and although very difficult to understand, his ramblings portrayed his absolute love of the good beer and company that Hashigo Zake offers. He had just joined a collective of other Home Brewers in Wellington that meet there on a regular basis and submit and critique each other’s beers. I picked him up and we went back to the Brewery to join Dave and go over all of the notes he’d received from the others that evening. He was very happy to read the positive feedback he got from his recipes. After this he devised a plan to install a keg fridge setup with two taps back at home. We eagerly awaited it’s completion.
He also recently enlisted the help of our close friend, Frank Schatz, who happens to be an award winning chef with a CV that reads like a fine dining guide. There were big plans, imported whole vanilla pods, and a lot of excitement. Sorry Frank, I know that Matt told you it was going to be a cloudy beer, but he took it upon his better judgement and didn’t know how to tell you yet. After you and him double-racked it, supposedly completing the soon-to-be-prestigious vanilla wheat beer, he took you home, came back, added finings to make it a clear beer and apparently it was the clearest he’d ever seen in his entire life, like glass or water. He told me on Sunday the 13th, while drinking at my house, that he hadn’t brought himself to tell you yet. But he wanted you to trust the expertise of the Broderick Brewery Head Brewer.
There are currently over 40 swapper crates, full, of delicious Broderick Brewery beer. All of them from different recipes and at different stages of maturation. I know that over the next few years as they reach the prime age for consumption, I am honoured to be in the privileged few that will get to enjoy them, and I’ll savour every last drop. And if any of you were wondering roughly how much beer that actually is, it’s not that much. Only about 360 litres.
Your death metal band, Backyard Burial. 12 years ago you played at Punkfest in Thistle Hall, Cuba Street, supporting Malevolence from Auckland, who are here today. I bet you never thought that after a decade you’d still be at it. Backyard was how we met, one cold night, many years ago now. My friend Martin and I had seen you perform a number of times before, and we jacked up the courage to go have a chat to you. You seemed quite awkward, but only because of your shy manner. You acknowledged compliments with the simplest of gestures, but only because you were always so humble. We already had so much respect for you at that stage from just seeing you perform and hearing your releases, but soon we were welcomed into your circle of friends and it was then that we got to see what an over-intelligent, humorous, well-rounded guy you were.
Stage antics have been brought up a fair bit in the last week. At some point last year I got to the Brewery to find a newspaper clipping on the table, which always meant you’d read something you knew others would get a laugh from reading. In this case it happened to be an article about a man seen exposing himself in broad daylight in Johnsonville. We laughed as you joked that you were going to make someone read it out as the intro to a song at the next Backyard gig. I should’ve known right then that I would be the one you’d make read it out, to a decently-packed venue no less. Backyard Burial gigs became an institution in the Wellington metal scene. Often at Valve Bar, hosted happily by patrons & friends of yours, Greg & Fresh. They are often the gigs everyone talks about and there are many stories from.
There are people here today that would have had no idea Matt was even into death metal, let alone a well respected and very popular member of the metal community. You’ve probably had your conception of metal heads drastically altered already but I just thought that I would make sure. Matt’s lyrics were seldom the cliché topics that the name of the genre would suggest. His lyrics were often focused around the human psyche, religion, society & politics. Each song reads like a short story, with clever and comical references to people that you knew or people that have been in some form of popular media.
In the last week I have received literally hundreds of messages of support from all over the country. But Backyard’s listenership doesn’t stop there; I’ve also received messages from Australia, the United States, Germany & more. The notoriety that follows a band like Backyard Burial is special. I was in Scotland in October 2006 and upon arriving at a 5000 person metal concert in Glasgow I began talking to some people. When I mentioned that I was from New Zealand one of the group said “Oh New Zealand! Have you heard Backyard?” I was shocked and pleased and I texted you straight away. I’m still not sure if you ever believed me but I know the truth, you have fans all over the globe, and you will for decades to come.
Last year you joined Brendon and I on occasion for Anger Management, our fortnightly metal show on Radio Active 89fm. You were so happy to be exploring that side of the music scene, the radio studio, and happily bought up tracks to play and we were all too happy to have you there. After all, your taste in music was better than ours.
Seclusion was your recent project and we were all so happy and excited to see your hard work come to fruition. Many hours in the recording studio already counted, You, Jim & Mark were on the brink of completion. You had even written out all of the lyrics and handed them over to Jim. You told me on Sunday that you were almost certain it would be the best Black Metal recording in New Zealand history, and I had nothing but encouragement to offer. We said cheers to each other and drunk to the recording. I have no doubt in my mind that if you thought it was going to be the best in New Zealand history, then it would’ve been.
You always said New Zealand music was rubbish, but you actually had a lot of time for other New Zealand musicians. There are vocalists and other band members from all over the country here today, all paying their respects to the man that meant so much to everyone who had ever met him, and who meant so much to the entire New Zealand metal community.
You’ve given people 12 years of enjoyment through your music so far, and you will for many years to come.
Fishing was a favourite past time of Matt’s. Whether it was off a wharf, beach or some rocks, Matt was always keen to cast a line. He loved going over to the Wairarapa on fishing excursions. At Red Rocks, the airport, behind the NIWA Institute or some wharf somewhere, you would rub your hands together excitedly and be the first person to be out the car, set up, baited and ready to go.
He was a big fan of food. He had particular meals that he loved and would have often. I’m glad to say that a few years ago I introduced Matt to Chicken Mee Goreng at KK Malaysia. Although sceptical at first, he quickly inhaled the dish. This instantly became a ritual. At least once a month, he would go into town and enjoy a plate of Mee Goreng from the same restaurant, usually with Dave accompanying him.
Turbot on Fridays (Catholicism)
Matt loved Nachos and it was a real competition always to see who could eat the most. The most memorable nacho meal for me was something like a 1kg block of cheese, 2 bags of corn chips, 1kg of mince, 3 cans of assorted beans, and a large tub of sour cream. This was for 3 or 4 people. He was the only person to finish his plate and still wanted more. He was crowned ‘Nacho eating champion’ which he held for years, until Caspian dethroned him in a recent competition. But he wasn’t feeling very well that day and had no appetite so perhaps we’ll let that one slide...
I took Matt to the Porirua open markets late one night, for an authentic Samoan pork bun. He absolutely loved it and couldn’t wait to go back again. Even telling others how great Pork Buns were! But the next visit, some weeks later, he was too eager and didn’t wait for it to cool. As the molten gravy burnt his mouth, he suddenly decided he hated pork buns! This opinion lasted years, until he only recently admitted that he indeed should’ve waited for it to cool.
Burgers were always an experience at Matt’s house. Stacked tall with delicious fillings, Matt always referred to his cooking as gourmet. I once watched him scoff 4 huge burgers, while I only barely managed 3 of the monstrous creations.
He was also a dab hand at stir-fry, and was a fan of the traditional kiwi dinner of meat & 3 vegetables. Generally this was steak, broccoli, carrots and potatoes. Everything was always cooked to perfection, of course. After all, he could do anything he put his hand or mind to.
Matt had a few different plans that I can think of so I’ll share them with you...
He had talked about starting a dub band after Backyard Burial wound up. Which may come as a shock to some of you, but he loved artists like King Tubby, and was always defensive of dub and reggae. His latest musical outlet of choice was definitely his band Seclusion though. So passionate about it, you were full of energy and aspiration. I have no doubt that it would have been unmatched Black Metal, the likes of which NZ had never seen.
As I mentioned earlier, you had also planned to upgrade the way beer was stored and consumed at the flat. You were going to start to keg Broderick Brewery Beer, also planning to purchase a fridge to keep kegs in with piping and taps on the front. So ice-cold, home-made, boutique beer would always be at the ready. We’d discussed some logistics and financial aspects of the undertaking and you had it all planned out.
Matt and I had made plans to go fishing over in the Wairarapa this weekend coming. I don’t think fishing will ever be the same again now. But I will cherish the memories I have of us having limited success, and being envious of Ludlow reeling them in. Always competitive you were...
Everything was scheduled and done efficiently, always. You made plans and you stuck to them. You were incredible in that regard. The strongest will and the most self discipline out of us all.
Matt definitely knew who his friends were, and he let them know they were his. He was always generous and loyal. His hospitality was unmatched. You could taste his delicious homebrew Beer if you joined him for an evening of drinking. You’d be sure to have a full stomach if you joined him for dinner. You were sure to laugh yourself to tears if you joined him on one of his birthday celebrations. His BBQs were always a relatively extravagant affair. Great sausages, hearty steaks, colossal burgers, the likes of which many bands and friends of yours, were lucky enough to have put on for them. This usually meant some beer too. Most times Malevolence came to Wellington it would be ritualistic for them to stop in for the obligatory BBQ and Beers at The Broderick Brewery.
Matt’s generosity was a way of portraying his sincere affection for his friends. Last Sunday, the 13th, Matt texted me asking what I was up to. I told him I had no cigarettes and he was sympathetic, replying “Visit? Warmongers journey to the depths of Berhampore? I will bring tobacco & one or two beers.” Of course I replied “Yes!” and he proclaimed “I will be there with the aforementioned supplies at 5pm, that’s a genuine Warmonger guarantee.” Well he turned up at 5pm precisely, with an entire pouch of tobacco for me, along with a chilli bin full of beers for us to consume. The first thing he said was “I spent $7 on ice!” He would -always- go that extra mile for his mates. We spent the next three and a half hours talking about all things past and present. We talked about our friendship, how far we’d come and where we saw ourselves going, our quarrels and trials, our living situations and our aspirations for the future. We covered so many topics and cleared the air on a few things that had created tension for us. We drank, smoked, laughed and enjoyed music together. It was a beautiful conversation and it will mean the world to me, for the rest of my life. It was, sadly, the last time I was to enjoy the company of my best friend.
At one point in time, one of Matt’s beer brewing barrels wasn’t sealing properly anymore, so he decided to put it outside the Salvation Army in Johnsonville to be collected. A short time later they affixed a sign to tell people not to leave things there. Matt thought it was quite funny and was quite proud of what had eventuated.
“Heaps & heaps” – One of Matt’s sayings, the origin of which will lie closely guarded between very few.
‘Andrew The Greedy Greedy Whenuapai’ – His cat’s name. Unfortunately, Andrew disappeared a couple of years ago. But there was a new cat, ‘Shub Niggurath Goat of a Thousand Young’.
“Watch out for those queers” – Said to most of Matt’s close friends whenever they left his house.
“Queer of the year” – Said in reference to anyone being overtly queer.
“Wash your back” – A joke form of “watch your back”.
“Don’t put on anything shit Adam” – More recently, most of the time when I went to change the music on the lounge computer.
Ludlowian, Luap, Ludders, Luddite – Various nicknames for Paul Ludlow.
Singing our names along to any song that was playing at the time, especially David Lewis.
Burping all the different infernal names: Pzuzu, Baalzebub, Shub Niggurath, Belial, Julie & Cathy. This was learnt from Dave when he first moved in with him, who is still the undefeated reigning champion. I have unfortunately only recently, after all this time, learnt the closely guarded secret of gastric annunciation.
I was especially privileged to watch a Jimmy Carr DVD with Matt recently. He enjoyed it a lot, laughing out loud a fair bit. It was a small accomplishment for me, as it was hard to bring him anything lengthy that he would actually like enough to sit through the duration of.
Two of the last emails I got from him were an email commending me on my recent fishing reel purchase, and a disguised link to What’s On In Lesbian Wellington.
The first birthday I had after moving out of The Broderick Brewery, back into town, I was gifted a Johnsonville T-shirt to remind me which suburb was the best!
He loved any sort of challenge and absolutely dominating them, which he usually did. When it was time to get more firewood from the shed, Dave and I would carry as many bits as we could in our arms. Matt, however, would take a colossal copper drum thing, fill it to overflowing with wood, and awkwardly carry the mass back to the house. No one else could even lift what he was carrying.
Drinking wasn’t spared either. He could drink more than anyone I know. I’ve seen him drink a dozen swapper crate bottles and still hold decent conversation, which is more than you could say for probably 99% of the population.
I’ve already made mention of his appetite but yes, both eating and preparation of food was a competitive sport for Matt as well. He could eat the most and would often boast about it. He could cook excellently and I’m sure given half the chance we would’ve competed in meal preparation as well.
Matt was pretty ripped the entire time Dave or I knew him. He never needed to work out, but when he did, he would fast become muscle clad & toned. He was very proud of this but would never boast about it, apart from once when he attributed German blood to the secret behind his physique. Once when we were having a ‘beer tasting’ he told Caspian to do 20 reps with his 15kg barbells. Upon Caspian’s completion Matt remarked that he was “very impressed”, considering he would “only usually do 10” reps himself. Shortly after, he challenged Caspian to a play fight in the lounge, where we were drinking. This ended in one of the cabinets having its glass door shattered and an exhausted Matt quickly conceding defeat. But, within half an hour he was ready for another attempt, although this time he didn’t get the chance to break anything. Caspian quickly had him in a tight hold that he had no choice but to tap out of. He didn’t say anything on the night apart from congratulating Caspian on his fine exertion of strength and ability, but secretly complained to Ludlow, Dave and I about having a sore neck for at least a week. He never challenged Caspian again and would always say after that “That Caspian, he’s my only physical superior”.
When I first met Matt, he was quite technology phobic. He was well aware that having a computer would better his quality of life, but he was too worried about getting viruses or hacked through the internet to bother with this strange and intimidating new territory. This very quickly changed. Before long the box of 50 odd CDs that were very well played was replaced, by a computer. In true Matt fashion it wasn’t just a computer, it was a Home Entertainment PC. Two complete rebuilds later and that computer now has a state-of-the-art sound card, satellite TV card, flat screen, infrared input, and let's not forget - more than 300 gigabytes of music. Then there are the 200 odd music videos, and although Matt didn’t even like watching movies, there are a few hundred of those too.
The reason for this very impressive collection, by any standard, is because of how quickly and greedily Matt embraced the ability to download music, a passionate pastime for the flat. He purchased a laptop for the sole purpose of using for the internet, and it stayed in the hallway connected and downloading non-stop for the past 5 years.
For those of you that don’t know how much music it takes to fill 300 gigabytes of space on a computer, it’s roughly 20,000 different artist discographies. ‘The collection’ as we refer to it as, is 99% metal as well. Which makes the effort that much more impressive. This really showed how important music was to him and what a massive part of his life it was. After all, the entire time I lived with Matt & Dave, a television was brought into the lounge only once, so we could watch an episode of South Park together that we’d heard had offended the entire Catholic Church worldwide. Our evening ritual, as was always the case at Broderick Brewery, was to sit, discuss our day and critique the ever expanding music collection.
Matt was very disciplined and committed when it came to any form of self improvement. He had the ability to sit himself down at his couch and stay focussed for hours on end. He would have a coffee, his tobacco pouch and his workbooks, with which he’d happily study from and take extensive notes from, on a strict daily basis. While Dave would be drinking and relaxing only a few meters away, Matt could not be tempted to stray from his schedule, even by the prospect of homebrew. Although, as soon as his allocated study time was up, he would quickly catch up to anyone drinking around him. None of his friends could comprehend his intense level of commitment to any task that he was interested in. He set out to reach a goal, and he surpassed it, always within the given timeframe.
People that didn’t know him personally didn’t know that he had a degree in Sociology from Victoria University amongst many, many other qualifications. He was far too modest to tell anyone. This could’ve been because his thirst for knowledge was never quenched. Even when he’d hear a word that he didn’t know the meaning of, while some would understand the context it was used in and overlook it, Matt would stop you and want to know what it meant. Sometime after I moved in we decided to go thirds on a Broderick Brewery Encyclopaedia. Of course, a truly colossal Collins Dictionary was decided upon.
While he was studying for his Diploma in Metal Health Studies, he worked hard at a part time job he loved, at the Green Parrot. He thought this would make an impact on his studies so he studied even harder, and fretted over his marks, which he of course had nothing to worry about. He got nothing less than an A grade on every paper.
My mentor, confidant, ex-flatmate and best friend. You were a brother to me, to say the least.
I cherished our friendship and never wanted it to be over. I was looking forward to countless more fishing trips, beer tastings, bush walks, gigs, road trips & barbecues. I will miss our discussions about psychology, music, gardening, food, alcohol, society, religion & politics. I was so proud when you got that job at the Capital & Coast District Health Board. You encouraged every positive aspect of my life and kept me level-headed when I was getting dark. You were too much for anyone to comprehend. Your charisma, sense of humour, style, energy and execution will be forever unmatched. Not many people outside of your close circle knew what a scholar you were, I was always envious. You had an uncanny ability to excel at everything you wanted to do. Creating music, studying, carrying firewood, drinking beer or otherwise; you beat us all hands down.
I miss you so much already, I'm so very heartbroken... I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you when you needed me, you were always there for me. I'm deeply scarred by what's happened, as many are, but I know you better than most people and I know that although you would've appreciated the sorrow for what it is, raw emotional human tribute, you would prefer that we just take the beer recipes from the prestigious Broderick Brewery, the recordings of Backyard and Seclusion, and all of our great memories of you and cherish them forever.
You were a better person than any of us could ever hope to be. I’ll never forget this period of my life and still don’t want to admit it’s over.
Love you always, Matt. From your mate, Adam.