Most rock n’ roll musicians know how to have a good time, but how many actually know how to take care of their mind and body outside of music? Well, you can include Matt Daniels of Shallow Side in both categories. Daniels, the band’s bassist, discovers his peace of mind off the stage and outside of the studio in a constructive environment, the weight room. In fact, his entire lifestyle is structured around health & fitness and it has been since his early youth, setting an impressive example for his bandmates and musical peers.
Shallow Side was all set to release their debut full-length record, Saints & Sinners, this week, on March 29th, as a limited physical release before it had to be postponed at the last minute. This was due to the fact that, as they had just scheduled the release with their record company Thermal Entertainment, the band was approached by more than a few interested major labels. After many weeks of contemplating the move and negotiation, they decided to remain with Thermal, with Saints & Sinners now scheduled to be revealed on July 26th. Recorded with the very well-regarded Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Incubus, Alter Bridge, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Slash) at his Barbarosa Studio in Orlando, Florida, the album contains ten all-new tracks.
While we await the release of Saints & Sinners, we spoke with Daniels about his life as an athlete, the wide range of fitness to which he commits himself, and how he’s able to stay fit while in the midst of lengthy tours.
Why and when did you get into fitness in the first place?
Matt Daniels: “I have been an athlete my entire life, whether it was baseball, basketball, hockey, or football…I loved it. Most of my off-season as a kid or high schooler, I was in the weight room, I never wanted to leave. I’ve always been very competitive and that mindset has molded me into the person I am today.”
What about exercise, health and fitness makes you take it seriously?
“To me, it isn’t just working out to stay healthy. For me, it is a lifestyle. When I don’t work out I feel like something is missing, I get anxious and feel myself getting stressed easier. Fitness is a therapy for me, it allows me to safely release my anxiety and stresses throughout the day. When I step in the weight room, I get to battle my mind and push myself until my demons no longer have control over me.”
Weights, cardio, callisthenics, CrossFit, MMA… what’s your jam?
“While I do love MMA, and have practiced jiu-jitsu, weight training and cardio training is my jam. I love the science of bodybuilding/nutrition and studying ways to grow your body beyond its normal conditions through diet and exercise.”
Describe your weekly routine and/or an average workout for you?
“I eat about 4,500 calories a day, split between five meals. I eat about every two hours and get one cheat meal per week to keep my metabolism on its toes. My workouts can range from two to three hours most of the time every day with one rest day a week. I follow a push/pull/legs format while using auxiliary exercises to strengthen my weak points.”
What music gets you extra pumped when you’re exercising?
“For me, getting my headphones and tuning out the world and pushing myself as far as my body will go is what gets me the most excited. I don’t have a favourite workout, or a least favorite exercise. I am all about the mental game and seeing how I can progress my physique.”
Do you ever listen to your own band’s music when working out?
“Absolutely, it’s very motivating. I get to live my dream playing music as well as running my own fitness company. When I get to combine both worlds into one… it’s on like Donkey Kong. There’s no better feeling than that. I was a fan of Shallow Side before I got the opportunity to join them, and I will forever be a rock n’ roll fan no matter the side of the stage I am.”
Being a touring musician, how do you stay fit on the road?
“Well, a big help for me is bringing my good friend Kirby (my personal refrigerator) who keeps all of my meal prep so I don’t hog the band’s fridge. I eat way too much and don’t want to take away space from the crew so I invested in my own fridge which I bring on tour. Other than that, we typically hit different gyms each morning where we will all work out and get some exercise in before load-in and soundcheck. If we don’t hit a gym that morning, I will typically run on over to the closest gym after soundcheck and work out.”
Some people go vegetarian and vegan while others slam steaks, whole poultry farms, and a kitchen sink in regimented six-meal sittings. Where does your diet sit?
“I went into a little bit of detail above with my diet, but I do eat about 20 eggs a day, and over 28 ounces of meat every day with various other foods and nutrient groups. I eat quite a bit of complex carbs at the moment because I am in a muscle gaining phase. Once I have reached a substantial level of muscle growth I will switch my macros to more protein than carbs to lose fat while still maintaining my muscle mass.”
Supplements, yay or nay, and why/why not?
“To each their own, it depends on what your goals are. For me, I use them because I am in competitive fitness, it is my goal to gain as much muscle as possible and get as low fat as possible. Pre-workout is always fun because it gives you a solid edge to push your boundaries. As far as other supplements, you can definitely get the same nutrients through a balanced diet. But it is easier to slam a drink and get enough proteins after a workout if you’re on a tight schedule.”
Morning, noon, evening, night… when do you like to exercise? Does it even matter?
“For me, it is whenever I can get there with my schedule. I have been the 5 am guy, the morning/afternoon guy and have definitely been the showing up at 1 am guy as well. Sometimes there’s no better sleep medication than a hard workout, you’ll fall right to sleep after that.”
How do you find your healthy lifestyle impacts your music and/or live performance?
“Personally, for me, it helps so much, I love pushing the boundaries of what I can do. Whether that is bringing more energy and movement to the live show, or just channeling the music and feeling it with the audience rocking back just as hard as I am. It allows me to run around more, and not be out of breathe or feel sluggish.”
Do you balance the “rockstar” lifestyle with being fit/healthy? Or is it one or the other for you?
“Other than not eating bar food or fast food it hasn’t really impacted my lifestyle too much. I typically will work out in the mornings, send out my workout programs, fitness check-ins with clients on the way to a venue then will load in and do soundcheck. From there I do a lot of back end business for music or fitness, then throw down on stage all while probably having food in my hand or definitely sitting somewhere nearby (laughs). I guess it’s not the stereotypical rock star lifestyle you see on TV, I don’t really drink much, but I definitely love to have a good time with the best of ‘em.”
What’s your opinion on performance-enhancing drugs?
“I personally agree that in performance-based sports it should not have a place unless it is accepted across the board for everyone. There has to be a fair advantage in sports and people using PEDs to have a much higher leg up on competition is cheating. However in sports such as bodybuilding, it is frowned upon to talk about, but you cannot organically and naturally get to three to four percent body fat and weigh 260 pounds unless you are a genetic freak. More power to you if you are, but it is highly unlikely that is the case.
In sports such as competitive bodybuilding, that is the end goal to take the body to the absolute extreme that the physique can go… so it is not as taboo in sports like that. But even with PEDs it takes several years of strict dieting and fitness to get to that point. So it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.”