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Interview with Matt Fink of The World’s Greatest Prince Tribute: THE PURPLE XPERIENCE

The Purple Xperience, a five-piece Prince tribute band who have been zig-zagging  the country since February of 2011 will play the Magic Bag this Friday. Led by Matt Fink (a/k/a Doctor Fink), a member of Prince and The Revolution from 1978 to 1991, The Purple Xperience is a band that leaves no one disappointed. You might remember Dr. Fink from many of Prince’s videos as the keyboardist in scrubs. His notable work with Prince includes co-writing credits on the songs “Dirty Mind”, “Computer Blue”, “17 Days”, “America”, and “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night,” as well as performing credits on the albums “Dirty Mind”, “Controversy”, “1999″, “Purple Rain”, “Around the World in a Day”, “Parade”, “Sign ‘O’ the Times”, “The Black Album”, and “Lovesexy .” During a phone call last week with dogs barking and TV interruptions, I spoke to Matt Fink about the band and the tour that will take him far away from his seemingly normal family life.

MCB: How long the Prince Tribute been around?
Matt: About 3 years,  our first shows were late November 2011. A couple of friends of mine and I were doing an event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 and they approached me about doing a Prince Tribute band. I wasn’t looking to do something like this but after I thought about it more and more, it sounded like a good thing. Prince can’t be everywhere so I thought it would be cool for me to go out and play some of the material as well.
MCB: What’s the story behind how you found your front man?
Matt: Marshall Charloff  introduced himself to me back in the early 1990s. He was a big Prince fan and an inspiring songwriter as well. He’s younger than me but coincidentally we went to the same high school growing up. He brought me his music and I thought he was real talented. We stayed in touch over the years and he was one of the people that approached me at the Hall of Fame Gig.
MCB: Did you perform with Prince in Detroit during the 1999 or Purple Rain tours?
Matt: Yes, I was in the Revolution and in the band before we had that name. This was late ’78 to ’90. I thought Detroit was great. A great audience with one of the more vocal, fanatical fan bases in the US. They were boisterous and loved Prince. 
MCB: What’s a typical set for your band?
Matt: We play all the hits from Prince and a few deep cuts that are album favorites. Primarily we do songs from the Purple Rain era but you will hear all the classic hit songs.
MCB: What’s rewarding for you to perform live these days? 
Matt: I really enjoy reconnecting with the fans and they like to come out and see that I’m playing. 
MCB: In the early days with Prince in Minneapolis, did you have a hard time getting acceptance at shows?
Matt: It took about 3 years of a building process of playing out. He had full support or the record label and they worked to bring him to the general public. Prince also worked real hard to create music that appealed to the mainstream which he did with Purple Rain. It was inclusive to all the ethnic groups in America. At the time, Michael Jackson kind of kicked it off and then MTV picked up on it. So there wasn’t the segregation that was prevalent in the industry back then.
MCB: On his early records Prince always made a big deal about writing and playing all the instruments, but the band seemed pretty tight, so how true was this claim?
Matt: There was quite a bit of influence from the band on that material. We were used as session players but the Revolution was very instrumental to the chemistry that surrounded him in that era. I brought my own influences into the band at the time and we learned from each other and fed off each other. 
MCB: You’ve been around the music business to see the formats move from vinyl to cassette to CD to digital. What do you think of each? 
Matt: Things have changed because of all the digital selling markets and most of them are singles driven with the MP3, AAC and MP4 formats. A lot of engineers from the past complain a lot about the audio quality not being as good as vinyl or even CDs. I tend to agree. When you compare playing Purple Rain on vinyl then listen to it on MP3 you miss some of the things in the music and things don’t pop out in the mix like they should.
MCB: Where are the most surprising Prince-crazed places you play? 
Matt: Well, how about parts of Ireland that were absolutely insane when we came out. The audience was amazingly loud.
MCB: What’s your opinion on pop music of today?
Matt: I really like a lot of what I’m hearing. I like a lot of the new styles of electronic music. I get a kick out of dubstep because it is so heavily influenced by synthesizer music and I really enjoy the high energy aspect of it. My son who is a keyboard player as well has written some dubstep music. I’m just sort of an eclectic person.  I even enjoy some good country music once in a while.
MCB: As far as diversity of talent do you think there will be another Prince? 
Matt: Yes, I do, in fact there is a new artist signed to RCA that I just met last week for the first time that is already being touted as the next Prince. Her name is Gabi Wilson. She joined us on stage in San Francisco and did Purple Rain. She played the solo and sang, just nailed it.

THE PURPLE XPERIENCE featuring Doctor Fink (of The Revolution)Friday, July 25 – at the Magic Bag, Doors 8 p.m. - $17