20 Questions with Mateo Olivo

Welcome to a new feature on our blog, “20 Questions With Scooter”.  With this series, we will be introducing you to many fantastic players who have lots of interesting things to say.  Each guest will be asked the same 20 questions and hopefully their answers will interest and inspire you.  The common thread among them is that they are all my customers.  Some you may have heard of, but many are locals with a local focus to their efforts.  I think they deserve your attention.  Some of these interviews will be on video clips and others will be text.  Let’s go!!

In this edition of “20 Questions With Scooter” we will be speaking with Mateo Olivo.


Discuss your earliest musical memories.

My earliest musical memories would be from about 1973 , I was 3 years old, and I was riding in the very back of my parent’s Oldsmobile station-wagon.. With NO seat belt..! Haha. Hearing the soulful music of Chicago, ( the horn section was amazing to me..) James Taylor, Stevie Wonder The Fifth Dimension. Cruising on the highway outside Gary, Indiana checking out the smoke stacks of the steel mills. Great music, great strength of our country churning out steel.. Loved it!!

Who or what compelled you to pick up a guitar?

In 1980 I was 10 years old and listening to The Eagles, AC/DC, Foreigner. So these guitar driven bands compelled me to pick up a guitar, although I had no idea what to do with it. lol..

Who was your main guitar influence?

Unfortunately, I can’t choose just one influence. It’s impossible. Ha… Sometimes I feel like I am constantly walking around with multiple guitarist’s tones and styles floating around in my head. Each day is different. Lol..
I’d have to say my early influences would be a mix of early 80’s and late 60’s guitarists.
I knew early on that I gravitated towards guitar tones from Foreigner, ( Mick Jones) Styx (Tommy Shaw) AC/DC ( Angus Young) and Journey ( Neal Schon) to U2 ( The Edge).
When I first started playing guitar at 14, I was listening to Zeppelin ( Page) , Santana and Hendrix as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan and metal bands..Judas Priest ( Downing and Tipton) Iron Maiden ( Dave Murray / Adrian Smith..)
Growing up in Memphis, I used to go downtown and listen to the old black blues players making their guitars cry down on Beale Street with such passion that it really took hold of me. B.B. King, Buddy Guy were always rolling through town, not to mention unknown blues players who were truly playing on the sidewalks of Beale Street for any spare change.
When I sing lead songs in the band, I’d have to say that I tap into my Mike Ness ( Social Distortion) persona more. Growing up and playing in bands as a teenager, I was really drawn to the rock-a-billy punk styles and Mike’s stage presence , attitude when he sings and how he plays guitar always spoke to me. I identified with that more than anybody as far as singing and playing guitar.

Have you ever been influenced by any non-guitar music?

This is a great question. I’m trying to think of any non-guitar music that made an early impression on me. All I can seem to remember liking was guitar based music growing up. Now that I think about it, I do remember being fascinated by blues and jazz horn players, music that I would hear and be exposed to by my dad. John Coltrane, and Miles Davis stand out as non-guitar players that seemed to make their instruments cry and speak to me. But after picking up the guitar, it was all guitar based music for my teenage years mostly.

Describe the local music scene where you came up.

Growing up in Memphis in the late 70’s and through the 80’s, our local music scene went through a lot of changes. In the suburbs where I grew up around 1985, skate punk and hardcore music scene was hitting hard. Although you wouldn’t normally associate Memphis with punk and skate rock, the younger generation of teenage guitarists and musicians were being influenced from underground albums and bands passing through Memphis on their way to the East Coast’s small club circuit. These punk influences mixed with local blues players downtown and country pickers and players rolling through town made for a plethora of diverse flavors to absorb.

Discuss some highlights of your playing career.

A highlight of my music career early was working with Gin Blossoms producer John Hampton around 1994.
While still in Memphis and attending Memphis State University, I was fortunate enough to be asked to join an original band project in the early 90’s. We accrued a nice following early and in a few short months we were touring the mid-south club circuit. Played big festivals and events in Memphis and Mid-South area including St Louis and Nashville. We were offered a ” spec” deal with producer John Hampton and had the honor of recording at Ardent Studios in Memphis at that time. It was really an interesting and fun experience recording and spending time playing music were some great artists such ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin had recorded. Speaking of which, while we were there at Ardent, it wasn’t uncommon to run into Billy Gibbons in the hallways, who was always down to earth and a joy to talk with. We received some local air-play after that, but nothing really stuck unfortunately, and we all moved on to other projects or interests after that.

Are you proficient on any other instruments?

This question won’t take long.. Unfortunately I’m not very proficient in any other instrument. I do play some bass and piano, tried Saxophone but didn’t have the patience to stick with it at the time. I was 12 and it just wasn’t cool enough for me to stick with it. Wish I would have though. I mean I’m still trying to get good on the guitar. Geesh… I’m getting closer though.. I think.. Hahaha😉😉🤓

Talk about a turning point at any time in your career.

I’d have to say the turning point for my career was after moving down to St Petersburg from Memphis and starting a new life, at the same time hoping to find a way to keep playing music in a live setting with a good band.

Discuss your current gig.

Currently I’m playing in the band DOSAGE. We are a working cover band here in the Tampa Bay Area. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this band and we are enjoying playing the beaches and club circuit here. Always meeting new people and fellow musicians in the music scene here is really a treat!! There’s a lot of talented musicians and bands here in the Bay Area and I just really feel very honored to be a part of it.

Where and how often do you perform?

We play every other weekend or more sometimes all around the Bay Area.
Some of the clubs and bars we perform at are

: Seminole Hard Rock Cafe
: Shepard’s Beach Resort
: Jimmy B’s Beach Bar
: Green Iguana South Westshore
: World Of Beer USF Tampa
: World Of Beer Westchase
: World Of Beer Brandon
: Yard Of Ale ( Tampa and St Pete)
: Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill
: Brown Boxer Clearwater Beach
: and many more…

Feel free to check our website @ DOSAGETampaBay@facebook.com

( shameless plug..🙄)

Any non-musical ventures you’d like to discuss?

Well, as far as any non-musical ventures, there’s not really too much at the moment. Being a single dad is actually my greatest venture and MOST important to me. My daughter Eva is 9 years old already. Geesh..!! When I’m not involved with music in some way, I’m usually playing my role as dad. I’d have to say that having my daughter in my life makes the music in my life that much better. She’s taught me how to love… I Love you Evangelina…

Discuss your practice regimen.

My practice regimen is up and down. I’d actually like to practice more, but I suffer from the rare and unique ” procrastinating guitarist ” syndrome. Ha
But fortunately, we play so much that the gigs can keep me fresh and tight. On my down time I try to spend as much time with my beautiful and blessed 9 year old daughter Evangelina and less time with music for now. These kids grow up too fast, so I’m soaking in as much as possible. Unless of course she wants to jam from time to time..Lol.. She plays a little bit of guitar and she enjoys helping me work on my pedal board and tweaking amps. Thank GOD!!! Lol..

Do you work a “regular” job?

I do have a regular non-musical related job. I’ve been working for FedEx for the past 25 years in various positions. Starting off in Memphis at the Fedex Hub loading MD-11 and DC-10 airplanes. I was however still playing music and this was the time period in which we enjoyed a little bit if original music success that I mentioned earlier.
After the original band called it quits, I transferred with FedEx to Tampa as a courier and I’ve been driving with Fedex ever since. I really enjoy Fedex and II appreciate the fact that FedEx covers my daughter and I as far as healthcare and benefits. Not to mention company retirement savings and company provided pension plan. It’s truly a blessing to be able to play music without having to worry about my family’s healthcare and benefits. Can’t stress that enough. My advice to any young aspiring musicians would be try to make sure your financial responsibilities can be covered with a another job, if possible, without playing music first. That way, you don’t have the added stress of being forced to oaky music in order to survive. It’s tough though juggling a day job and play music. But it’s well worth it.

At what point did you think you could make a living playing music?

Playing music for me and getting paid for it was always something that I wanted to keep as something that would be supplemented by working another job. I didn’t want to just play music for a living because I enjoyed other avenues and I always wanted to have a safety net incase music wouldn’t be an option for me anymore. The music business SUCKS, and I got a very small taste of that in my late teens and early 20’s. I knew then, I better have a backup plan in place. So along came FedEx. What a blessing.

Tell us about your favorite guitar.

I have about 30 guitars, but it’s tough to pin down just one favorite. For me, it’s always changing. Lately I’ve been favoring 4 guitars the most. My Epiphone 335 is a joy and had a great tone. I’ll also bring a Whitfill Telecaster and Whitfill Strat out to the gigs. Charles Whitfill is a great guitar luthier out of North Carolina. He most recently built a Tele for Billy Gibbons and also built a few Teles and Strats for Vince Gill. Also, my Granville Scootercaster Tele is one of my favs. Plays like butter..!!!
I enjoy having the different guitars for different tones depending on the song. Plus, I break a lot strings.. Lol.. So I need at least one backup when we’re gigging.

Talk about your current rig?  Strings?  Picks?  Tunings?

I’m always changing amps and doing different amp setups. Currently my rig setup goes back and forth. Sometimes I run a 1968 Marshall JTM 50 watt in stereo with a combo amp, maybe a Fender Blues Jr ( modded by Granville Guitars) or Dr. Z Z-Wreck 30 watt head through a custom 1×12 cab with Vintage 30. Lately, I’ve been going with my Granville Marshall JTM 45 clone head running through a Mojotone 2×12 cab. . Also lately I’ve been playing a Custom By Cougar 30 ” Mother” 30 watt head. I’ll run that stereo with the Granville Marshall or a 1968 Marshall JTM 50 watt head.
I’m a pedal guy, lol, so my current pedal board has:

Boss tuner+
Digitech Whammy
Gig-FX Frampton signature wah
Klon Centaur
1977 Ibanez Overdrive II
Basic Audio Scarab Fuzz
Keeley modded Boss TR-2 tremolo
Keeley Katana Boost
1974 MXR phase 45
Boss DD-2 delay
All pedals are isolated and triggered using American Loopers loop system

We prefer to tune to Eb.. I’m using 10 gauge Ernie Ball strings and I use the thin tolex picks..

What piece of gear is essential to your playing?

I’d have to say one of the pieces of gear that is most essential to me is the Ibanez overdrive II. It’s a piece of vintage gear that just has that mojo to it.. Something about it. It was the predecessor to the Tube Screamer. Has more gain than the tube screamer, but still really warm. Along with the Digitech Whammy.. Haha!!!🎸🎸🎸🙈🙈

Describe your proudest moment as a musician.

My proudest moment was probably hearing our songs on the radio back in the 90’s in the Memphis. Also playing in a band backing up an Elvis tribute and having mom be there because she LOVED Elvis.. In her eyes, I was playing with the ” King” and she loved it. Lol

If given the chance, what non-musical profession would you be interested in?

If I weren’t a musician, I would most likely be doing something that could get me near the guitar. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than near music somehow.. Maybe a studio producer? Studio engineer? A Roadie? Nah, too much work to be roadie.. I’ll have to get back to you on this one in another interview. Lol

What generally popular and beloved artist do you just not “get”?

This is a great question.. Hmmm, well.. The one musician I don’t seem to get, but a lot of people do get, is Lou Reed.. Ever since I was a kid I’ve never understood the deal with why he’s so amazing. Lol.. I’ve never really given his music a chance though, so I guess I’m not being very fair to ol’ Lou. Maybe I should give him a chance first. Haha.. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised? Or not..!!! . 🙈🙈🙈…