SO, if you’ve been a fan of FFTL at pretty much any point, you probably know this is a band with a lot of back story.
It all started in high school. I (Matt Good) had become heavily interested in music, and was in a band called First Too Last.
First Too Last
We were basically a Blink 182 rip off haha. We played locally in Florida a lot though, and that is what led me to meeting Travis.
Travis Richter early days
After knowing Travis for some time and playing with his band called Eastdale, we decided to team up together and he joined my band which was modified to be called “From First To Last.”
At that point, we had gone through a few members, mostly just local friends, until we met Derek Bloom.
Derek Bloom early days
The first time I ever met Derek, he actually found me on a VERY early social media site, far before Myspace or even Friendster. He saw that I played guitar and asked me to play in a black metal band that he drummed for. I of course said yes, and that is when my friendship with Derek began. Not too long after that, I asked him to join FFTL, and he said yes. Soon after, Derek’s friend from LA, Jon Weisberg joined FFTL to play bass.
The last piece of the early puzzle was our frontman screamer, Phil Reardon. After Phil joined FFTL, we started heavily pursuing touring. We had very little interest in spending too much time trying to grow locally before we expanded nationally, so we started booking our own tours on a site called BYOFL.org. Most of the shows were cancelled – we usually didn’t get paid, and had to think of VERY creative ways to obtain gas and food lol (we won’t go into too much detail there). But at the end of the day, we were out there feeling like we were pushing forward in some way, even if it was inches at a time.
One day, we played a show in Long Island with a band who was on a label owned by a local guy named Bob. They sent Bob our stuff, and he loved it. He ended up signing us to his indie label, and from there the Aesthetic Ep was born.
Aesthetic EP cover
Recorded in Valdosta, GA with our friend Lee Dyess, we spent about 2 weeks making this EP. Our excitement was uncontainable.
After making that EP, things started happening for us. Not all at once, but we got a manager, and a couple of better tours that actually had people at them! Also, some labels started to show interested in what we were doing. After talking to many labels, we ended up going with Epitaph. Brett Gurewitz flew all the way to our super shitty apartment and hung out with us, showed us Bad Religion solos on guitar, and he was just the most down to earth awesome guy ever. We were sold.
In the next few months, we ended up having personal and creative differences with Phil, so we parted ways. Since we were planning on pursuing a little more clean singing instead of screaming at this point, I was only going to sing and we planned to find a new guitar player to fill my shoes.
Flash forward a couple months: at this point, Myspace was a thing that was coming up quickly, and I had met a dude on there named Sonny Moore who lived in LA.
Sonny Moore early 2000’s
One day, Sonny hit me up cause he heard we were seeking a new guitar player. He was super enthusiastic, showed me some songs over the phone that he could play, and we decided he should come out to Georgia to hang out and see if he fit the part. This to me at the time was so crazy – I believe he was just turning 16, and his parents were all about it. That was something I was definitely not accustomed to haha.
When Sonny arrived at the studio, a very large chunk of the Dear Diary record was already recorded and I had finished vocals on a few songs. While Sonny was there he asked me if I wanted any help working out vocal ideas on a song, and I said sure. Shortly after this I realized, “Wow! this kid has a great voice.” I asked him if he would be interested in getting behind the mic and trying to sing over one of the tracks. I would say not even 2-3 hours later, after only knowing him for maybe 2 days, we asked him to join the band. Obviously the label was confused (haha), but we sent them some tracks and they got fully onboard… And that is how that era was born! Soon after, our first full length, “Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Bodycount” was released.
Dear Diary album cover
Following this, we did every tour we possibly could for awhile. It was fun and we did well, but it almost felt like we had missed the mark on the record. The reaction was positive at first, but dismissive in a way. So we started brain storming what we could do to make a better 2nd record!
But then somehow in a way I still can’t explain, everything changed. The record started selling WAY more copies, and the tours got better. By the time we got to the following years playing Warped Tour it was like we were a totally different band. We were seeing our stuff in shopping malls, and our online presence was growing to be huge. In that moment, it felt like everything was coming together.
With the fire under our asses of wanting to make a better second record, and Epitaph’s full support, we reached out to Ross Robinson.
Ross Robinson has produced some of the most influential records of my entire life and, to me, is a genius. We honestly didn’t even expect to hear back from him. But, we did! I honestly remember feeling like all our brains were gonna explode all over our van when we found out he was on board to do the record. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.
The record was an insane amount of work. We would do 10 hour pre-production days every single day. Derek’s hand were covered in blood and blisters. It was crazy, but in the best way!
We had recently parted ways with our bass player, Jon Weisberg, and were in need of a new bass player. At first we were going to record the bass ourselves, but then Ross suggested his “friend Wes” play the bass. Wait, “friend Wes?” You mean Wes Borland??
From First To Last with Wes Borland
We were obviously all for this because Wes is undoubtedly one of the best musicians and artists I have ever met and worked with.
By the time we got up to Weed, CA to record this thing, I can honestly say there is no way we could have been more prepared. We spent 3-4 weeks in Weed before returning to LA to finish the rest at Ross’s house in Venice. The record was named, “Heroine.”
Heroine album cover
I still, to this day, consider this our finest work. The amount of thought, feeling, musicianship, personality, and scrutiny put into this album is beyond even my memory of it, I am pretty sure.
When returning to the road, the band was on fire, and Wes had decided to join the band on tour for quite some time. It was an amazing time for the band. We were featured on the cover of Alternative Press magazine,
FFTL AP cover
selling out headlining tours, and up to doing the FalloutBoy Black Clouds and Underdogs tour with All American Rejects and Hawthorne Heights. Our record was released on that tour and I actually remember seeing every band on the bill on the top 50 of Billboard at the same time, a completely surreal moment.
It wasn’t too long after all of this that things started to change. Sonny was experiencing problems with his voice, and shows and tours started to become cancelled. People often ask me exactly what led to Sonny leaving the band and I can honestly say I don’t know if there is really one, simple answer. I just think that sometimes if you are feeling unhappy in a situation you’re in, sometimes the best thing you can do is to change the situation for yourself. Sonny officially left the band at the end of 2006, although we didn’t officially announce it for quite a few months after that.
After Sonny left, we were faced with a lot of challenges and questions. We determined the band had come too far to just let it die. It was decided that we should go back to me singing like before, and try to see what happens. At this point, FFTL signed with Interscope/Suretone and started working on our next release. We also picked up our new bass player, Matt Manning.
After about a year of writing, demoing, and recording, our self-titled full length was released.
From First To Last Self Titled
Looking back on that album, I can say there are some things I would have done differently, but I think it’s a great album with great songs. People were kind of confused because the sound was a pretty massive departure from Heroine, but the way we saw it was that it was better to change and become something new instead of try to imitate what we were. In that situation, I don’t know if there really was a right answer to make everyone happy, but I do know that the band meant so much to me that I was willing to try anything that I could to keep it alive. After this record was released, we did some of the best tours and festivals we have ever been a part of. I can honestly say that it was a very successful journey. We played every major European music fest, toured with KISS, played with The Cure, and ended with Soundwave in Australia.
FFTL playing with HIM and The Cure MTV WInter Break in Spain
After that touring cycle, the band took a break and started to work on its 4th record. We decided to move to Rise Records for this album, and we went back to Valdosta, GA to record with our original guy, Lee Dyess. Over the course of a few months, “Throne to the Wolves” was created.
From First To Last- Throne to the Wolves
This is probably my second favorite album we ever did. I really feel like by the time we made this record, we had grown up a lot and following our experiences with the last record, we had a lot to say. This was our kind of “leave it all out on the table” kind of record. This album seemed to be accepted far more by our older fans and critics than the last record. We toured off of this for about a year, but whether it was timing, or whatever, it just felt like it was time to take a break. In 2010, FFTL was officially put on hiatus.