Eli Mattson

by Tina Hall
January 2010

Door County native Eli Mattson

Door County native Eli Mattson

Eli Mattson is probably best known as runner up on TV’s America’s Got Talent, on NBC, where he lost to Neal E. Boyd by only 0.5%. He has made several appearances in Vegas with AGT winner Terry Fator. Eli started playing the piano at 5 and has been performing as a vocalist/pianist since the age of fourteen.

MAXIMUM INK: You claim Door County, WI as your home. What it is like to get chances to play your home town?
ELI MATTSON: “Well I lived in Door County as a kid, went to Southern Door, and worked at the Pizza Hut in town. After that I moved around a lot but what Door County really gave me was a start with music. My first regular gig was at Java on Jefferson when it was there.  Now when I play there it’s great to see the people who supported me first.”

MI: Who would you say has influenced your style the most over the years?
EM: “I’d have to say Elton John of course, and Billy Joel. But the last few years it’s been my friend Jimmy Newquist from Caroline’s Spine, a really awesome band.”

MI: What was it like to perform for millions on AGT? What did you learn from that experience?
EM: “Playing for millions never really entered in to it, most of us tried not to think about it. I think it taught us how to have a panic attack backstage, and keep it together on stage. It was a lot of fun.”

MI: How has appearing on AGT affected your career?
EM: “It has really opened up a lot of doors, and I’ve met the greatest people since being on it. Plus every once and a while I run into someone who watched the show which is always a trip. But really it gave the career a good shot in the arm.”

MI: Can you tell me a little about what it was like before AGT, your humble beginnings so to speak?
EM: “Before the show I was little aimless about the music, and struggling a bit. I always had a blast though. I love music, and everything that comes with it, so the hard times never bothered me that much. There are still rough times and great times but that’s life.”

MI: There are a lot of musicians in your family as well (truly nice people by the way:), do you work with them ever? Couldn’t imagine how great a show it’d be with all of you together!!
EM: “I don’t get to see the family as much as I’d like but we try. I haven’t had a chance to work with them lately but I did put some piano tracks on my moms’ music a few times.”

MI: What do you like to do in your spare time?
EM: “I’m a big video gamer, and get a little hooked on that when I’m home. I love movies and football, and sitting on the piano writing.”

MI:You mentioned on AGT that you got your “calling” at age 12 while seeing Sir. Elton John perform. Can you tell us what that was like?
EM: “It’s hard to explain that, the show was amazing and something inside me clicked. I think it was watching Elton and Billy bring all those people together, everyone feeling the same way at the same time.”

MI: Do you prefer to work in the studio or on the road?
EM: “On the road for sure, the studio is great but there’s nothing like traveling.”

MI: How has becoming a father affected your outlook on life and music in general?
EM: “It’s a big thing to be a dad, and being away is tough. It does give me a focus I’ve never had though.”

MI: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you in regards to your career? And what advice would you offer aspiring musicians out there?
EM: “The best advice I’ve gotten is to not have a backup plan, and if you commit yourself completely to anything, then anything’s possible.”

MI: What projects do you have in the works for 2010?
EM: “The new record is number one, and everything else is just getting on the road and making music. I have some other ideas, and I think 2010 will be fantastic.”



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