An Interview With Matt Robinson

INTRO
Series 5 of THE TRIBE introduced us to one of the most memorable characters to have appeared throughout the show’s history. Within the framework of a mysterious loner who was both a fighter and a lover (most of the time in equal measures), Slade’s intentions always seemed difficult to pin down, yet he was never one to shy away from the greater fight. THETRIBE.CO.UK welcomes of course Matt Robinson to our tribe cast interview.

THETRIBE.CO.UK

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Matt, you hail originally from the UK, so how exactly did the role of Slade come about? Were you aware at all of the show beforehand, and what was your original impressions of it?

MATT ROBINSON

I had been playing Romeo in an outdoor production in the UK – got spotted by an agent, who then sent me up for the audition. Three weeks later I’m jetting out to New Zealand to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

I wasn’t too clued up about it to be honest, although a friend of mine turned out to be a massive Tribe fan, so she quickly gave me a crash course in the show and it’s world which brought me up to speed. It was obvious that there was a deep & passionate fan base, so I was aware I was getting involved with something that really mattered to a lot of people.

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From the get-go, Slade was a character who immediately stood out and seemed effortlessly confident in himself and what his end goal was. How much of the character was a performance and how much was it your own personality?

MATT ROBINSON

Great question. It was such an intense time of my life as literally a couple of months before I landed the part of Slade, my mum died from cancer. I was a young guy trying to process all this grief, and consequently I was a bit detached to the world in general, and not sweating the small stuff. This meant I was able to let go & not be too uptight – this helped my relationship with the camera, as it can pick up any rigidity or nerves. In a strange way even at the audition, I knew this part was mine – I felt a deep connection to it from the first word. Slade taught me a lot.

MATT ROBINSON AS SLADE IN 'THE TRIBE'

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Did you encounter any difficulties with any aspects of the character at all?

MATT ROBINSON

No – I was so grateful that this wonderful character came into my Life at just the right time, and as I embodied him, it felt like a lifejacket in the storm. I loved the fact the character had such complexity. Funnily enough, I wish I was able to play him now – I think I could bring a more deep and subtle performance to the table.

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Speaking of difficulties – and though it might destroy the entire suspension of disbelief – was it you riding the motorcycle, or was that a stunt double?

MATT ROBINSON


Now where’s the fun in revealing what’s behind the smoke and mirrors? x

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Slade had a very mysterious storyline that saw him aiding Ram, and joining the Resistance, for reasonings that seemed unclear until we eventually learnt of his sibling connection to Mega. Eagle-eyed fans noted that Slade was called Ron during the flashback of losing his brother. Do you remember this at all? Is Slade’s real name, Ron? And if so, why would you say that he started using Slade instead?

MATT ROBINSON

I remember this. My personal take is that once his family got broken, he took on the name of Slade in order to move through the world with drive and purpose, and ultimately to find his brother.

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Most of that series had you working alongside Fleur Saville and Meryl Cassie. What was it like working alongside two strong female figures within the show? And if you had to choose, who should Slade have ultimately ended up with? Ruby or Ebony?

MATT ROBINSON

Ah, they were both such legends. It was wonderful to have such strong female characters to play against, and they were like the angels and demons in Slade’s life. A lot of those scenes, especially with Meryl, were just the two of us – it was wonderful to really get to grips with that intensity & fire it off each other. I think there was always a pull that Ebony had on Slade that would keep him coming to her, even though there was a hand reaching out to pull him from the tide in Ruby.

MATT ROBINSON WITH THE LAST PICTURE SHOW

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What is your most favourite memory from your time on the show?

MATT ROBINSON

It was such a rush. I loved learning the fight scenes under these amazing tutors, and I got a lot of screen time with some really fine actors. I think narratively as the season reached its endgame, there was an increase in the intensity of the scenes – I loved the whole relationship with Mega & the way that revealed some of the real Slade behind the front. There was a vulnerability and a sense of loss that was a treat to play.

Also, hanging out playing pool, drinking beer and laughing with Joseph (Crawford) and Cale (Calen Maiava-Paris) was one of the absolute highlights of my time in New Zealand. Friendships that have lasted through the ages – all my tattoos are by the beautiful hand of Calen!

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Is there anything that you wished that you could have done with the character?

MATT ROBINSON

I wished we had done more seasons of course, as I think I would have loved to see Slade really be pushed to the limit. How would he survive in the New World? There were so many relationships between Slade and people like Ram, Mega, Ebony, Ruby & lex that it would have been so much fun to see those develop and potentially explode!

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Quite a few of THE TRIBE cast have a strong affinity for music – including yourself. With The Last Picture Show, Dissembler and your solo material, what would you say has been your favourite experience? And what is it about music that you find so passionate?

MATT ROBINSON

Dissembler was such a joyful experience. Being able to write, record and release an album in less than a year really appealed to my pace of working. Bryan (Southworth Turner) and I would often go with the first take, and I loved the fact that we went for emotion and rawness over polish.

Also because I wasn’t writing to chase a record deal or anything, I felt my writing was more honest and varied. I like the fact we have tracks like “Crystal” – amongst the heaviest I have done, next to the dance of “Into The Light”. Lyrically a lot of the songs addressed the challenges and joys of raising a son with profound autism.

Similarly to Slade, this album save my Life in a few ways, and gave me an outlet which I needed to keep afloat. It’s the healing power of music that I find so passionate, and it’s ability to exit in its purest form without filter, judgement or limitations.

A PHOTO SHOOT FOR DISSEMBLER

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Who would you say is your inspiration and influences in terms of your music? And what do you find more fulfilling – working in a studio on material or performing to a live audience?

MATT ROBINSON

Great questions – love these. So many artists have influenced me over my life – Radiohead for their fearlessness, Coldplay for their bravery in tackling melody head on -Ghost Stories is my favourite work of theirs as it’s so intimate and hushed in places – a big influence on Dissembler; Tori Amos for showing me that the piano has a place in rock music & Eddie Vedder and the Pearl Jam boys for keeping their integrity, teaching me that music can have a cause and for growing old disgracefully. Recently been loving Banks, Gemma Hayes, BonIver and of course Placebo.

We’ve been lucky to do some awesome gigs in front of amazing fans, but the thing about playing live is so much is at the mercy of the sound, the room you play in, the levels … I find all of that can be really frustrating, whereas I love the whole process of working in a studio. Watching a song unfurl is very rewarding.

I know I play my best and truest when I’m just sat in front of the piano at home composing with Mr John Mullaney playing by my side, without any studio or live pressure.

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If you were stuck on a desert island, which 3 albums would you take with you, and why?

MATT ROBINSON


Only 3 – that’s so tough! 
OK, they would be Radiohead “In Rainbows” for the beauty, Pearl Jam “Ten” for the energy and Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” for the closeness.

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What are you working on at the moment? Are there any current projects that fans can follow your progress on?

MATT ROBINSON

Absolutely – lots going on! My proudest thing is that I have set up a company that will deliver interactive autism awareness workshops to make a difference to people like my son. You can find us at http://www.connectingthespectrum.com/ and book us if you need some workshops & empowering.

Music wise, Last Picture Show have got some new material which we are finishing off in the recording studio. One is a track called “Strike A Match” which is one of the most immediate things we have ever done! http://www.last-picture-show.com/

Dissembler wise we have a bunch of tunes in various stages of readiness. If you head to http://www.dissembler.co.uk/ then you can download the album and also a new track called “Satellites”. As soon as new stuff is released it will be here. There’s also a contact box on this site – am really keen to start writing for other artists, so if you are looking for some music / lyrics or are a publisher then get in touch!

OUTRO
Thank you so much Matt for taking time out to participate in our interview. Good luck with the new material that you are working on, and we hope that Connecting The Spectrum really helps other parents or organisations that deal with children with autism.