October 22, 2018

Matt Fink on Prince’s Legacy, The Revolution Tour, and Minneapolis

The Revolution. Photo by Kevin Estrada

While Prince is universally recognized as a genius by music fans of all ages and backgrounds, not everyone realizes the importance of his backing band The Revolution. Often referred to by Prince as “the baddest band in the universe,” The Revolution was part of many essential Prince recordings, including songs on “Purple Rain,” “1999,” “Sign O’ The Times” and “Around The World in the Day.” While Prince would eventually disband The Revolution in favor of The New Power Generation, many of the players of The Revolution have continued to find success as musicians, including Bobby Z, Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin, Brownmark and Matt Fink.

While 2016 saw the untimely death of Prince, this tragedy led to the regrouping of The Revolution for a series of sold-out shows in 2017 as part of a tribute to the collective’s mentor. Proper touring resumed last summer, including major festival appearances at North Carolina’s Hopscotch Music Festival and San Francisco’s Phillips Backyard Weekender. The Revolution is currently touring the States — including upcoming dates at Austin’s ACL Festival, New York City’s Sony Hall and Boston’s Wilbur Theatre with a European tour slated for February 2019.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Minnesota-based keyboardist Matt Fink, who notably co-wrote the Prince songs “Dirty Mind,” “Computer Blue,” “17 Days,” “America” and “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night.”

While I did not get to ask the man known as Doctor Fink about his Jewish roots – he is notably not the only Jewish member of The Revolution – I did learn about Prince’s comedic chops and that there is still plenty of great unreleased material to come from Prince’s vault.

Jewish Journal: How long was this tour in the planning stages for?

Matt “Dr.” Fink: It’s been pretty much since February-ish

JJ: How long of that time has been spent on coming up with the setlist and rehearsing?

MF: Not too long, maybe less than a month, going back forth on that.

JJ: Did you have to relearn a lot of songs? Or was everything fresh in your mind?

MF: A little bit of relearning, not too bad. There was still things that are still ingrained inside and I don’t really have to do that very much. For me it wasn’t too difficult to get back in the saddle.

JJ: Who’s acting as the music director of the band this time around?

MF: Primarily Mark Brown [also known as Brownmark], our bass player, but everyone has been pulling their weight and all that. He’s kind of been the designated director.

JJ: For people who are coming to the shows, what should be expected? Is it a tribute show? Are you playing the songs straight as they were on the recordings?

MF: Yeah, we play them pretty close to the album versions. We play a lot of the Revolution-era hit songs, along with some deeper album cuts. A little bit of unreleased material that you won’t hear directly hear live.

JJ: Were you always onboard since day one? Or did you have to be talked into the tour?

MF: I was onboard from the beginning.

JJ: You obviously have always been known for your work with The Revolution, of course, but you haven’t always put that as your primary credit. In other words, you have worked on other projects and stayed in the background a little bit…

MF: Well, I don’t know if I’d say that, but once The Revolution disbanded, I was with the first version of the New Power Generation for the first four years, 1986 through the end of 1990…

JJ: But you did reinvent yourself as a composer for other projects. Was that always the plan? Or had you been looking for another band?

MF: I was primarily just looking to become a producer rather than being on the road after leaving Prince. I wanted to do studio work and raise a family, not be on the road so much.

JJ: Back to Prince for a second, is there anything that you wish more people knew about Prince? I ask because he’s sort of an urban legend in many ways in that there are all these fantastic stories, yet no one every confirms if they’re true or not.

MF: Just that he was a very fun-loving guy, fun to hang out with, a great sense of humor. People kind of got to see that in Under The Cherry Moon, not so much in Purple Rain. He was doing more comedic things in that film. He didn’t always get to show off his comedy chops. I always thought he should have done some collaborative films with other comedic characters, but he never did.

JJ: Is it true that he was an excellent basketball player like that “Chappelle’s Show” skit showed?

MF: Yeah, that’s true.

JJ: Were you there for that evening? If I recall correctly, they had a person in doctor’s scrubs showing in the background in that skit.

MF: Yeah, that’s true, I was on-hand for that.

JJ: What is it that keeps you based in Minnesota?

MF: Primarily the fact that it’s my hometown makes life easier. It’s not as crowded as the West Coast or the East Coast. I just like it here because I have family here.

JJ: So, besides The Revolution tour, are there any other projects of yours that you are allowed to talk about?

MF: Yeah, I just finished working on a local artist here in Minneapolis. I produced her at my recording studio here, her name is Michelle Rose. She’s enrolled at the Berklee College Of Music there in Boston. She started her first year at the age of 19. She’s gonna be a contender, I think, going forward, once she graduates from Berklee. I’ll continue working with her, there’s plans to do more material when she comes back to Minneapolis at various times… I continue to do session work for projects that come my way from time to time.

I’m currently working for a company that has developed a new music streaming service, and it’s dedicated to hip-hop and R&B artists, primarily independent artists, it’s called MyMy Music. It’s also available for your iPhone or Android phone. It launched last month and it’s doing pretty well right out of the box, getting a lot of artists onboard. It’s interesting because it’s curated by the listener primarily.

JJ: Is most of your recording still doing out of your StarVu studio?

MF: Yes, but that’s just my home studio, it’s built into my house.

JJ: Ultimately it sounds like you’re keeping busy. So in closing, any last words for the kids?

MF: Keep discovering that Prince music. If you’re already Prince fans, bring your kids. It’s a wonderful legacy that Prince has left for us. We all know what a genius he was, and the amount of material they will continue to release out of his works and his storage vault at Paisley Park — which has now been transferred out to Los Angeles for full archival storage, and also certain recordings are being restored to their full glory at this point — there’s gonna be a lot of release over the next… Who knows? 20 to 30 to 50 to 100, I don’t know how many years. (laughs) I’m sure his estate will continue to bless us with everything he’s got in that vault. Anything they feel is worthy I’m sure will come out at some point at another.

Oh, and I forgot to ask: Are you wearing the scrubs on this tour? Or is that a thing of the past?

MF: Absolutely, I’m always The Doctor.


Tour dates and other information related to The Revolution can be found on Twitter via @TheRevolution and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/therevolutionmusic.