Ol' Yeller is a 3 piece rootsrock combo from Minneapolis led by former Glenrustles frontman Rich Mattson. Completely independent, they record in Rich's garage at will, tour nationwide when they can, and put on a tight and powerful rock show always. Penance is their third full-length recording.
Excerpt from City Pages, May 14, 2003:
The trouble with writing about Rich Mattson is that he doesn't lend himself to description, rock criticism, or even funny stories. "He's not anecdotal," says Nate Dungan of Trailer Trash, when I call to ask for advice. "He's just there. He's like Mount Rushmore or something. He's a powerful benign force. You're not going to hear about him throwing a fridge out a hotel room.
"In fact, his resolute mellowness is probably why he's not the superstar he should be," Dungan continues. "Because he is so laid-back, and committed to doing things at his own speed. That's why he's not living in Nashville getting kicked around Music Row."
To know the man, friends say, you've got to know the producer. Mattson opens his studio doors to anyone who can track down his cell number, like a collector of stray cats, but with one-off musicians. "You'll get a guy over there with just a trumpet and a bucket full of water, and he'll record that," says John Ewing.
Once you're in there, Mattson sticks microphones in front of you and tells you the tape is rolling. It's an approach that has become storied on the local scene.
"It sounds so simple, I know, but other people argue about which mics to use for hours," says Duluth musician-producer Mark Lindquist. "He just turns them on."
In fact, everything about Mattson sounds simple. His music has been described as "meat-and-potatoes rock" so many times that I long for verbal garnish: Are the subtly inventive song structures like parsley? Are the out-of-nowhere codas the vanilla ice cream? Let's just call it all muttonchop rock and get it over with--a description that at least gets at the vague, displaced nostalgia his music evokes. Ol' Yeller are more punk than the Jayhawks, more pop than Wilco, but Mattson's mellow is dreamier than either--a catnap Replacements.
To imagine where this music comes from, just think of Mattson loving the Replacements from way up in an Iron Range town where the central landmark is the world's largest hockey stick. Rich and his brother Glen Mattson (who became a namesake of the Glenrustles) grew up in Eveleth, Minnesota surrounded by taconite plants and mines, thick woods and crowded bars. Maybe Rich really did fall asleep to the train whistles he rhapsodizes on "Out in the Sticks" (where he sings, "I just can't find my way back there/Now I hear there ain't even tracks there").