Photograph by Christina Birkinbine (L to R Matt Hopper, Derek Mangrobang, Winston Monticello)

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS (c) Christina Birkinbine 2019

"Alaska's finest" - Performing Songwriter Magazine

Matt Hopper & The Roman Candles are a quintessential Americana band. They blend rock and roll, blues, country, folk, reggae, pop and a healthy dose of psychadelia into their unique take on guitar based music. Critics have drawn comparisons to Paul Westerberg & The Replacements, Jeff Tweedy & Wilco, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ryan Adams, Van Morrison, Mark Lanegan, and many more. The band expertely reads any room and can adjust their 130+ song setlist to match the vibe and the audience and thus have stayed alive for a 20 year independent career by playing all the dives and honky tonk gigs alongside the big theaters and outdoor festivals. This band is so diverse, in fact, that they've managed to score gigs ranging from blues legends Dr. John and Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band to rock powerhouses like Everclear and Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons, folk artists like Todd Snider & Tim Easton, pop megastars Gin Blossoms and Barnaked Ladies...the list goes on and on, we're talking 20 years of traveling and recording and playing shows. Hopper has lived up to his last name, hopping the pond for tours in Europe, Canada and all over the USA. He doesn't "live" anywhere, but prefers "the road" as his home, while sepending quality off time with family in Alaska in the summer and Arizona in the winter. It's a lifestyle branded by Kerouc in the book "On The Road" that madea big impact on a young Hopper. The passage that inspired the band name is as such: "the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

"Matt Hopper does rock and roll right. [He] has a very natural ear for memorable melodies and irresistible guitar riffs; great songs seem to pour out of him." - Ben Salmon, Bend Bulliten

Hopper has a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Alaska, Anchorage and his "pre-career" resume highlights are his time serving as the station manager, program director and music director for KRUA 88.1 FM Anchorage, music director for KNBA 90.3 FM Anchorage, music columnist and music critic for Anchorage Daily News, music editor for Anchorage Press and booking agent for The Bouquet, a 300 cap club in Boise, ID. He was also a computer lab technician with T1 access at the dawn of Napster and, but that's all we'll say about that. Warner Bros/Subpop recording artists The Head & The Heart covered his song "False Alarm" on their album "Signs of Light" and he has co-written with 2018 Canadian Folk Award Roots Artist of the Year Leeroy Stagger, Alaskan mountain climbing afficiandao/ The Whipsaws frontman Evan Phillips, former Exit 51 frontman Jon Liszak and many more. His 2010 effort "Jersey Finger" was produced by one of his heroes Richard Swift. His 2015 album "Grand Ole Hopry" is a collection of country-ish songs recorded in Nashville with special guests Leslie Stevens (LA Weekly's 2018 Best County Singer), Jaime Wyatt, Jodi James, Samantha Crain, Nelson Kempf, Keely Boyle, Tim Easton, Rianna Riggs, Tracy Holland, Steven Wilson, Freddie Stevenson and Julia Haltigan. In 2006, Hopper collaborated with Cold War Kids, booking their first west coast tour ever and memebers of the band would back Hopper on a short set towards the end of the tour. His songs have been covered by Annalisa Tornfelt, Blackwater Railroad Company, Brothers Reed and many more. The band's first west coast tour was in fall of 2003 opening for Fear Before The March of Flames and Anatomy of a Ghost (former band of John Gourley and Zach Carouthers of Portugal. The Man) which saw him landing at The Troubadour for his first LA appearance. Hopper and Jon Liszak once opened for Evan Dando and woke the next morning suprised to find a review of the show in the Boise Weekly with the headline: "Openers Better Than Dando". Years later, Dando himself welcomed MH&TRC back to the stage opening for The Lemonheads. When singer-songwriter Freddie Stevenson lined up half a national tour opening for The Waterboys, he called Hopper to join him on vocals and guitar along with Julia Haltigan as they warmed up such famous stages as the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, Neptune Theater in Seattle and many more.

"With their jangling guitars, slippery basslines, smooth violin and keyboard and light, steady drumming, Hopper and company would've sounded right at home on classic rock radio next to Bob Seger and the Doobie Brothers." - B. Schulz, Here Comes The Dumptruck

The band's has a new album coming out in 2019 that is currently being mixed in Seattle, WA by Shawn Simmons and features cameos by Charity Rose Thielen & Matt Gervais (The Head & The Heart), Courtney Jaye (Rogue + Jaye), Kathleen Grace, Jamie Drake, Tracey Holland (Vandella), Chris Tye (Vandella) Andrew Vait (Sisters) and Brock Lindow (36crazyfists). It was engineered by Brad Laina (Vaudeville Etiquette, Barret Martin Group) at Strange Earth Studios in Seattle, WA, sadly the same studio space Chris Cornell and Soundgarden worked out of before their final tour. Most of their released music can be found on major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music or through the band's Bandcamp page.

"Although this songwriter recently relocated to Idaho, Matt Hopper cut his teeth in our most northern state, which would lead to the wiry, blues-flavored tracks on the 2011 album Jersey Finger. Hopper is a Tom Petty dead-ringer on “Send/Receive,” and he spends the rest of Jersey Finger drumming up nostalgia for listeners of many generations." - Taylor Kane, 9 Alaskan Acts You Should Listen To Now, Paste Magazine