Interview with Matty Matheson, Culinary Kingpin and Host of VICELAND’S Dead Set on Life

Simply put, Matty Matheson is great. After fifteen years of killing it in Toronto with an ever-growing food-focused empire, and over three years with a Midas touch on every video he’s made for Vice’s online channels – here comes Matty with Dead Set on Life. This new venture is set for the silver screen on VICELAND, the new television channel by Vice Media.

The first episode airs on July 7th (tonight!) at 10:00 PM ET/PT on VICELAND. This week, I caught up with Matty over the phone to talk about life, love, Vice, bodies, eats and posi vibes.

Danielle Finestone: How did this relationship with Vice start?

Matty Matheson: I’ve been friends with people there for many years, going back to when Vice had a store on Queen Street and I worked at Le Select. About three years ago, they started doing stuff with food and I kept bugging them until finally they said okay. We did Hangover Cures, but then a bunch of shit happened. I stopped drinking. I thought, I can’t do this anymore, but I want to continue making shows. So we did Keep it Canada, and that became a cult classic/weird Internet video thing. Then the “How To” videos blew the fuck up. Then with VICELAND starting, we thought, “Do we want to make a TV show?” It’s been an awesome, gradual, slow build where everything feels natural. It’s not like a flash in the pan.

How is Keep it Canada different from Dead Set on Life? Why the name change? 

We switched the name because it wasn’t Keep it Canada anymore. The first season is still completely in Canada. Season two, we leave and go all over, but there are still some episodes in Canada. But for television, if we wanted this thing to have legs for multiple seasons, it couldn’t be called that. It’s too exclusive, just Canada. I love Canada, but we’ve already done about sixteen episodes.

What is the significance of the name Dead Set on Life? How did you land on that? 

A few of us have got it tattooed but when we opened Oddfellows, I said, “No bars in Toronto are fucking cool. Let’s make the gnarliest, craziest bar.” We were going to call it Dead Set on Destruction, which is a Hüsker Dü song and really depressing. But when I had my heart attack, a bunch of friends and I were all making jokes like, “Guess you can’t open up a bar called Dead Set on Destruction.” And my buddy Wade later said to me, “You are dead set on living.” And then the band Cancer Bats wrote a whole album called Dead Set on Living. Those are my best friends – I used to tour with them. And even the theme song [for Dead Set on Life], Liam [Cormier, from Cancer Bats] wrote that in the hospital parking lot about me. And I didn’t want a stupid travel show title. Dead Set on Life is kinda vague – what does it fucking mean? I love that and it’s a real story. I am dead set on life. I want to live life, meet people, be positive, stoked on shit and have a really good time. It’s as simple as that.

To get away from the more stock questions, I really wanted to ask you this for Shedoesthecity, because women get this certain line of questioning all the time: Now that you have a kid, how is life different? How do you balance it? So, you’re a dude. How do you keep work-life balance now that you’re a dad?

Everything has changed, and I literally could not live my life without Trish [Matty’s wife]. She’s phenomenal, gone above and beyond any expectations. We have that understanding that we have to support each other 100% on everything. She could have been like, “No, you can’t do this,” and I would say okay. But instead she’s like, “No, go do this. Go kill it.” Both of us are ambitious. She’s running LoversLand with her partners and only took six months off. And then we’re going to have to get a nanny or daycare.

The core of it is having a strong team. When I’m home, I help out as much as I can. But at the end of the day, Trish is the boss. She’s fucking supermom. Seeing Trish turn into this instant provider is a very inspiring thing for me. What’s happening with me is happening, and I can’t stop it. Maybe Vice would have found someone else. I did take three months off from travelling before and after Mac was born. The second I got back, it was back to a pretty crazy schedule. But at the end of the day, it’s all for the greater good of our unit.

Toronto is kind of a hustler’s city. Do you have any dating advice/practical tips for ambitious people? Do you guys do date night?

As of right now, no, but we’re looking forward to getting back into that. We’re just in that early stage where – three months of having a newborn baby – no one really knows what to do. No book’s going to prepare you.

The best relationship advice is: once you find that person you’re in love with, care about and know that you want to be with forever, it’s not about compromising. It’s about joining forces. A couple’s dream should be the same. If it isn’t, that’s a big thing. We want to have a good quality of life, work hard and do a bit of everything. So, how do we reinforce and help each other create the most success and happiness and love and business? We’ve been together since high school. Trish is my girl and I’m her dude, and that’s rare. I think people are allowed to be selfish at times, but it’s about being balanced. “I’m going to do this and when you go to smash, I’ll be there for you.” Trish’s store is killing it. To see three women build a store from nothing and create a whole new way of selling bridal wear – that shit is awesome. So, how do we make it work? Okay, cool, put everything in iCalendar? Sure. We’re not perfect, but it’s about continuously evolving and learning.

Do you think having a kid has changed your approach as a businessman, or in life? 

It’s more about time, than money. Want me to come and do something? Sure, but now the pot has to be a bit sweeter because I’d rather hang out with my family, go eat ice cream and sit in a park or go to the water. Oh, your event is cool, you got some followers and you’re going to Instagram it? I don’t really care, man. Now, it is business. It’s a cut and dry thing. Time is precious now. Unless it’s a cool thing that I’m excited about, like starting to do more charity stuff.

Oh yes, tell me about the next steps. 

Well, not “charity stuff,” but I’m going to start cooking with LGBT kids at a shelter, and I want to start doing more things like that, where it’s literally not about money. They’re stoked I’m coming in, and I’m going to show them how to make a three-course meal for like five fucking bucks. That’s rad to me.

What do you think you’re most proud of in terms of the trajectory that you’ve made in the past couple of years? 

It’s exciting right now. I’m really grateful for everything. I really believe that you get what you give. I’m getting good articles. I think it’s cool that I can talk about my past, about being a drug addict or an alcoholic and do that publicly. I just did that big Toronto Life article, and I was nervous because I told Courtney – the journalist – a lot of crazy shit. I was so fucking nervous like, Ahhh, why did I do that? I told her everything? Why did I tell her everything? And then she wrote the story and it was such a nice piece, with all the craziness. I did a Globe and Mail article on addiction. Now I get a lot of messages from people and that helps me. Positive stuff.

Yeah, and it helps remove the stigma. A lot of young people are going to read this, and it’s whole different audience.  

For sure, and I get a lot of body-positive messages from fat dudes. And from overweight teenagers and kids in high school saying, “I think it’s really cool that you’re not afraid to take your shirt off being fat.” And I reply. It’s getting a bit crazy now with the messages, but I try every day to hit a few of them like, “Yo man, you’re great. You’re beautiful.” And I think that if I can send some positivity into people’s lives – is that not literally the best?

Especially when you’re just being yourself. 

Yeah, and I can be myself forever. I love that this whole thing is built on me being myself. Besides me being a freak and yelling at the camera when I’m doing “How To”s in the show. I always think it’s funny when people say, “Oh, another fat tattooed guy for Vice.” And I’m like, well, who should it be? A really good-looking, skinny person? And at the same time, what the fuck are you talking about? What should a typical fucking food host be? I don’t know. But I’m doing this.

Catch the first episode of Dead Set on Life July 7th (tonight!) at 10:00 PM ET/PT on VICELAND!

1 Comment

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    July 19, 2016

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