Tina Halladay (Sheer Mag) and Matty Matheson Are “Pretty Much the Same Person”

The musician and the chef finally meet for the Talkhouse Reader.

Tina Halladay is the frontwoman of the Philly-based rock band Sheer Mag; Matty Matheson is a Toronto-based chef and restaurateur, and one of the stars of the Emmy-winning Hulu series The Bear. Tina has always been a big fan of Matty’s, but despite their shared interests (punk and food) the two had never really crossed paths. But back in January, for the second issue of the Talkhouse Reader — the Food Issue — they finally met over Zoom. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. You can find the rest of it in the new Talkhouse Reader, which is out now digitally and in print. Also, be sure to check out Sheer Mag’s latest record, Playing Favorites — out now on Third Man Records. 
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music

Tina Halladay: I’m surprised we’ve never met before.

Matty Matheson: I know, it’s crazy. We have a lot of mutual friends.

Tina: I guess we probably crossed paths — I think you were at the LA show on that Power Trip tour in 2018. I only know because Matt [Palmer, Sheer Mag guitarist] told me he asked for a picture with you, and he was probably being extremely annoying. 

Matty: [Laughs.]

Tina: I think I ran off to find someone I knew, because I was like, “Who are all these cool guys in here? I gotta get out of here.” So we didn’t meet then. But I said, “Oh, wait, this guy cooks?” And you like hardcore and punk… I was like, “This is a fat guy, I’m a fat guy! I automatically like this guy 10 times more.” I feel like we’re kind of kindred spirits, because I definitely sing in all caps, and you kind of speak in your videos in all caps.

Matty: We’re pretty much the same person, you know?

Tina: Yeah, we’re the same. Even though we’ve never met, and you have a lovely family and a home, and I live with four degenerate roommates…

Matty: [Laughs.] But it’s pretty much the same.

Tina: I feel a duty as a fat guy to talk about a little bit of it — was it ever hard to carve out a place for yourself? I feel like I had to kind of work hard to make people see, “Hey, guys, I’m cool too.”

Matty: Yeah. I think it started even early on — my two brothers, they sneezed and they got abs, so I was like the fat brother. It was early on just being a little chubby guy, and then we moved around a lot as kids, so there were a couple years where I was going to a different school every year. I think that’s definitely some foundational shit of being a class clown and making people like me through making fun of people, or making fun of myself. On top of that, I was never really into sports. I was never even into skateboarding, even though I thought it was cool. I was like, “I fall down and it really hurts. Fuck all that shit.” So it was just like, I wasn’t skating, I wasn’t playing sports, what do I do? And I found a group of kids that were like, “Yo, like, check this out,” and showed me this tape that had Pantera and Deicide and Danzig on it. I was like, “OK, this is something.” That was the beginning of grade six, grade seven, being like, “Oh, I really like this heavy music. It makes me feel something.” And then you start seeing magazines and pictures — these dudes are all sweaty and bigger dudes. I still remember, like, ingrained in my head, seeing a picture of Poison Idea and just being like, “What the fuck is that!” It’s just one of those things like, who are the people that we can identify with, being fat, chubby, or whatever? We kind of get stuck in this no man’s land. At a very young age, you’re like, “Well, I can’t do that, and I can’t do that, and I can’t do that.” But you can do it! But you gotta fight for it and really want it. 

Tina: Yeah, I found the same group of friends that it didn’t matter, we just wanted to listen to music and hang out. We just wanted to be cool friends who did cool shit, and other “normal” people didn’t matter. [It was] finding your space there to be unapologetic, I guess, about who you are. 

Matty: Yeah. I grew up in a small, 16,000 person border town, and it was a miracle when I found out [about all this music]. In the late ‘90s, you’d go to Warped Tour and you’d see see Sick Of It All and some hardcore, Limp Bizkit and Body Count and all this shit. It’s funny stuff to think back on, but being next to Buffalo was the best thing ever, because all of a sudden it was just like, you’d meet a kid, get a flyer — like, “Oh, here’s a basement show.” There was literally maybe eight of us from Fort Erie that would get our parents to drive us over to Buffalo and go see a bunch of punk bands in the basement. 99 Custer was one of [the venues], and there was a bunch of other ones. This is 26, 27 years ago, and we were just going to shows at, like, Showplace Theater, the Mohawk… So many good venues in Buffalo. And it seemed like nobody gave a fuck what you looked like — you wanna paint your nails and dye your hair black or whatever the fuck? Just do whatever. My brothers were norms, listening to Creed and Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains are tight, but it’s, you know, kind of normie. Even in a town of 16,000 people, there’s a couple people that are into some shit, and you’ll always find at least a small group of people that fuck with something.

Tina: Yeah, I’m also from a small town — 80 people in my graduating class.

Matty: Incredible.

Tina: But I was stuck in the land of emo in Long Island, so it was a little harder to get out of that. I had to go to college to realize that I didn’t really like that. 

Matty: But you got The Movielife out there.

Tina: The Movielife was tight! I went to probably 12 From Autumn to Ashes shows at the Sports Plus Center.

Matty: I remember when I got the From Autumn to Ashes demo at Home of the Hits in Buffalo, and it was the craziest thing I ever heard. I was just like, “Oh, this band’s even heavier than Arc Angel.” 

Tina: Yeah, I went to college with my Anterrabae hoodie over my Most Precious Blood t-shirt.

Matty: [Laughs.]

Tina: But it’s cool to get out of there and be able find a crew that you can be like that with when you’re young and in a shitty little small town. Did you ever crowd surf? That’s my one other fat guy question. [Laughs.]

Matty: Nah. Again, I’m not really that agile so I just stayed in the pit. I was just down on the ground. You know, I’m not trying to head walk. I remember we were at this one thing, and me and my buddy Brandon — he was a bigger dude, too, and he went and just bulldozed like a bunch of people, and then I went and I fell and broke his nose.

Tina: [Laughs.]

Matty: I was just like, “Yeah, I’m never doing that again.” I’m just aware of my size, too, and I’m not really trying to hurt people. But I definitely used to mosh and have fun when I was younger, try to dance hard and all that shit. But I never was trying to head walk or crowd surf or any of that stuff.

Tina: Yeah, I never did when I was younger. I definitely stayed out of there. But when we were in Japan and we played with Skizophrenia, Yu was making me do liquor shots, and I hadn’t drank liquor the whole tour, and before we even played, I jumped on all those tiny Japanese people. My friend Reed was in the back, and he’s a big dude, and he was just like, “I saw you shoot off the stage. I’d never seen anyone go so fast to the back of the room.” They just, like, slingshotted me, and he caught me and put me down on the ground. But that was mostly out of spite, because I said, “Should I crowd surf as a joke?” And my guitarist was like, “No!” And I was like, “Fuck you!”

Matty: Yeah, we’re goin’.

Tina: But I’m glad I did it that one time. Got it out of the way.

Grab the latest issue of the Talkhouse Reader to check out the rest of their conversation, including why Matty loves cooking for touring bands; why Tina once threw a cup full of piss through the window of a certain cheesesteak establishment; their McDonald’s orders, and more. 

(Photo Credit: left, Natalie Piserchio; right, Aaron Wynia)

Sheer Mag is a rock band from Philadelphia. Their latest record, Playing Favorites, is out now on Third Man.