Q’s With 33 & West’s Matt Pike: Growing Metal And Making Pancakes

Matt Pike
– Matt Pike
33 & West

Booking agent Matt Pike got his start in New England where he ran his own Kenmore Agency for 16 years, grinding as hard as the music of his clients, which includes hardcore legends like Converge, American Nightmare, who just released their first album in 10 years, and desert rock veterans Earthless.

A few years ago, Pike joined Circle Talent Agency to co-head the electronic-focused agency’s Live Department of mostly metal and punk bands. While the dubstep and drum & bass focused Circle Talent was acquired by UTA,one of the “big four” major agencies in April, Circle’s Live department was not part of the acquisition. This led Pike, Dan Rozenblum and JJ Cassiere to form their own boutique agency, 33 & West, with around 70 music clients including Dance Gavin Dance, Dead Kennedys, Napalm Death, and Insane Clown Posse.

Pike, while in the thick of searching for new office space for he and his partners, and still handling day-to-day agenting along with dad duty as the father of two (ages 16 and 11), caught up with Pollstar to talk about the state of the touring business, festivals, and marquee client Dance Gavin Dance, which just wrapped a headline tour that included its largest show yet.

(Note that while this Matt Pike books some major metal bands, he merely shares a name with the other Matt Pike –  guitarist/frontman of famed stoner metal bands Sleep and High On Fire. However, it would be really cool if they worked together.)


Dance Gavin Dance
Micala Renee Photography
– Dance Gavin Dance

What’s up with Dance Gavin Dance?

it’s cool because for last couple years they have been growing and growing and growing, while a lot of bands of bands have been faltering and album sales aren’t what they used to be. Dance Gavin seems to be a step ahead of the curve for some reason. The growth that is still happening is amazing.  That we’re bigger now than ever is something to be said.

It was an extremely successful run. We partnered with AEG on most of the dates. Brittanie Delava over there has been a believer in the band.  She is basically (AEG Presents’) club and theatre touring buyer and she really went to bat for us and convinced the locals that this was a tour they had to get behind. We crushed, and it’s a good feeling to have a win like that.

See: They Might Be Giants, Dance Gavin Dance Debut; Taylor Still Tops 

We did almost 3,000 tickets in San Antonio, Texas, which is the biggest headline show the band’s ever done. To be exact we did 2,987 tickets, and I was joking with the promoter, ‘Why didn’t you just tell me? I’d have bought the 13 tickets to get to 3K.’”  (May 26 at the Alamo City Music Hall, grossing $76,082.)

We sold out the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif., in five hours. Same thing in a random market like Santa Cruz. It was 1,000 tickets in a week, just wow. All of these were in advance. It was 23 sellouts in 26 dates, and two of the three shows that didn’t sell out were because we moved up to bigger rooms accommodate the crowds.

We just announced a fall run supporting Underoath. Throughout Dance Gavin’s career they haven’t been afforded the opportunity to support a lot, for whatever reasons. You take the opportunity when one comes along to tour with a band like Underoath (repped by Nick Storch at Artist Group International). The tour in the fall is definitely an ambitious run. We’re putting our money where our mouth is, and we’re glad to do it with them.


How about The Black Dahlia Murder / Whitechapel package run?

That’s another one. You pair two bands together that have been around for a little while, and you put together a package that’s enticing for these kids to spend their $25 or $30. We just did 2,000 kids in Anaheim, and it’s a pretty extreme metal tour. It’s not exactly rainbows and butterflies.


Got anything not quite so heavy?

JJ and I represent a children’s act by the name of

Then there’s Amigo The Devil. He’s kind of the purveyor of indie horror rock scene. It’s him and a banjo or him and an acoustic guitar. Very Americana, but songs are about murder, or serial killers. It’s cool, crazy nichey stuff. We’re trying to do as many different things as possible.


What’s going on with your longtime band Converge?

Converge is wrapping up a second leg of a North American run with (Oakland metal band) Neurosis. Converge is a band I’ve personally worked with for 22 years. Those are the guys I came up in the music scene with. The singer (Jacob Bannon) runs a record label and my old booking agency shared an office with his label for years and years in a suburb of Boston. There’s definitely a deep-rooted connection when it comes to the business I do and the business Converge does. They’re a constant.  They’re legendary within the scene they come from and there’s very few like them.

I think the first time I booked a tour for them was in 1996, and all of their contemporaries have come and gone, but they’re still out there putting out relevant music, just constantly raising the bar when it comes to heavy and extreme music.

They are a tremendous live band as well. But they’re not necessarily the kind of band you want to listen to in L.A. traffic (laughs).

 What do you see in the live business right now?

 The touring world is full of haves and have nots. And what I mean by that is you have a lot of artists that are pushing a high volume of tickets and you have the artists that kind of dwell in the underbelly of it all. It feels like we’re kind of missing that middle ground. Who are the acts that are consistently selling 2,000-2,500 tickets that can help your scene or band, how do you get them from the 500 tickets into the 2,000-cap rooms? As someone who’s “been around for a while,” I look at 10 years ago and it seems like there was a lot more activity, a lot more bands touring and doing real business then, if that makes sense.

 Have the increasing number of festivals taken some of the club headlining out of the picture?

That can have something to do with it. Look at 10 years ago. There wasn’t a lot of festivals. There just wasn’t. Over in Europe and places out of the country they just ran their touring business on festivals, and that model has slowly caught on here. There’s people like John Reese (of SGE) and the Danny Wimmer (Presents) people who are putting festivals on a whole other level right now. Especially for your heavy bands, for alternative bands, bands that exist outside of the “mainstream.”

The festival experience is a little more accessible these days to put bands in the spotlight, so Dance Gavin Dance has the opportunity to play with the Greta Van Fleets and System of a Downs, where maybe that opportunity didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Those festivals are doing tremendous business and real numbers.

It helps solidify our touring business as well. You can’t expect every buyer or venue owner to have their finger on the pulse to know that these bands are doing the business they’re doing. But they can pull a festival flier and they see us on the same line as a Greta Van Fleet or Avenged Sevenfold.  So we’re not having to pound them over the head with numbers and information all the time (laughs).

Any closing thoughts?

We definitely exist in a space where the word boutique is almost taboo. Everyone is aligning themselves with the big dogs and there’s still room on the playing field for the boutiques and guys like us to develop and grow.

We’re very lucky and grateful. I would like to think our clients are with us for who we are, not where we were. The fact that we naturally progressed into something that is our own, they were very comfortable with that. We were on our own little island out there, and we were aware of that and made the most of it. And now here we are.