He looks enough like the U2 frontman that he fooled the staff at Sassafraz—and Bono’s own security detail in Dublin. We caught up with the tribute artist at Revival (where he’ll take the stage on May 27 for a concert to benefit the Princess Margaret Fund) to discuss the pleasures of Pop, the secret to a good Irish accent, and ditching his day job with the Peel District School Board to go on tour.
Did you grow up listening to U2?
Oh yeah, always. It was them and The Police. Sting and Bono were my two guys.
Are you a Joshua Tree guy? Achtung Baby? Zooropa?
I guess Joshua Tree was what really turned me onto U2. I remember hearing it and just thinking: Wow. My favourite album, though, would probably be Pop.
Seriously? That one is the worst!
I know it wasn’t well received, but I love it. For me, it’s the theatrics. The tour for that album really took things to a whole new level in terms of theatrics.
Have you ever thought, god, I never want to hear another bloody U2 song for as long as I live.
Never. People who know me can’t get over how I never get bored of it. I could listen to U2 from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep. I love all types of music, but when I want to feel uplifted, I put U2 on.
Or you could just look in the mirror.
Yeah, but I don’t see that at all. Also, I don’t walk around with the glasses on. I wore them today for the shoot.
Did people stop you on your way here?
Oh yeah, like crazy. I took the GO Train and the TTC. People stopped me on both.
Do you think they were thinking, “What the eff is Bono doing riding the rocket?”
I think they have that initial reaction, but then most people stop themselves and think, “Wait—he wouldn’t be here.” So then it’s, “Who does this guy think he is? What a pompous ass to pretend to be Bono.”
Do you ever put on the Dublin accent?
No—mostly because I’m not very good at it. Unless I’ve had some Guinness. I was really great at it when I was in Dublin. I never drank so much Guinness in my life. Generally, though, I really don’t try to pass myself off as him.
Not even to skip a line or get a table at a restaurant?
We did do that, years ago. My management wanted to test the power of Bono. We went to Sassafraz one night. They cleared people out and shut down the dining room for us. We never lied—they just assumed.
I’ve heard the reverse as well—that the real Bono has pretended to be you to avoid the paparazzi.
There have been reports. I also heard that one night in New Zealand, he got turned away from one of the really hot VIP clubs because I was already in there. But I can’t personally confirm that.
If I asked Bono who the top Bono impersonator was, would he say Matt Easter?
I’m not sure. I know he’s said that seeing me spooked him out. I have fooled his security. When I was in Dublin, I went to see his house to get a picture, you know, as a fan. The place is surrounded by these 16-foot gates, and as I approached, the gates opened. When his security realized the truth, they couldn’t believe it.
Maybe you “spooked him out” because he thinks that you’re trying to break into his house!
Can you tell me how you went from being an aspiring musician to a globe-trotting Bono impersonator?
I was doing my own music in 2005, playing for maybe 20 people once or twice a month. One night in the winter, these two music-industry gentlemen were there and asked me if I could sing like Bono. I had done that all through high school, so I did “With or Without You,” “One,” and “Desire.” They signed me to a contract at 2:30 in the morning.
Do you ever feel like you gave up on your own music?
I would love for this to be a stepping-stone to making a CD of my own music, but it’s mostly a time issue. I was travelling so much for a few years there, and then I went back to teaching and I’m a dad to three little boys.
Do your sons get confused when they see Bono?
My twin eight-year-olds have only just started to get it. My four-year-old still says, “Daddy, Daddy,” any time he sees him.
You mentioned being a teacher.
I’ve been with the Peel School Board for 24 years. My official title is behavioural educational resource facilitator, which is a fancy term for behavioural teaching assistant. I have worked with a lot with young offenders. Right now, I’m working with younger kids with behaviour issues. The hope is that, with my help, these kids can be integrated into the mainstream system.
What happens if your touring schedule doesn’t jibe with your teaching schedule?
I actually had to quit my job to do the Vertigo Tour. I gave up all my seniority and benefits. Luckily, I was able to go back to it. I know U2 is working on a new album now and I have a feeling it might be their last. If I got the call tomorrow to go on tour, I would drop everything.
Beatles or Stones?
John or Paul?
Favourite junk food?
Frank’s Hot Sauce.
Ocean or lake?
Person you want to meet in heaven?