The Metal Visits The Middle East (Sort Of)

Matt Kubacki, a contributor here at The Metal, is currently serving our country in the US Navy. He and I met in high school about 16 years ago in blissful Cheektowaga, Ny, but these days, he lives in the Kingdom of Bahrain near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. Now, it may be 1:05 am here on the east coast, but it’s 8:05 am there, so Matt decided to wake up bright and early to grant me an interview. We talked about metal of course, but we also talked about his journey since he first enlisted in the Navy, 13 years ago today. He told me an impressive tale filled with the usual ups and downs, some great accomplishments, and of course, the heavy fucking music playing the background since day one. So, what’s it like being an American metalhead on the island nation of Bahrain? Read on to find out.

Mike Marlinski: Who were the first metal bands you got into?

Matt Kubacki: First metal bands I got into: Pantera, Metallica, and Slayer come to mind. I was also into a slew of nu-metal bands at the time, but we don’t talk about that. I was an impressionable teen in the mid 90s, and remember being on a quest of sorts to find the heaviest, noisiest music of the era. This quest led me to death metal, “mainstream” black metal and grindcore. Obituary (who was recommended to me by this dude named Shawn from high school, last name escapes me) has remained a favorite of mine over the years. As time went by, I started to get bored with just listening to bands with that kind of sound and expanded my tastes with power metal. I’d like to thank our own Mike Marlinski for introducing me to Sonata Arctica back in 2004. I also dabbled in prog metal, and electronic bands as well.

MM: Who are you currently listening to?

MK: This is tricky. I own over 600 CDs, a few vinyls, and have an absurd amount of digital content, due to constantly discovering new bands and rediscovering old. At this point in time, I am listening to the French industrial dictators, The CNK, Japanese oddballs, Sigh, and everybody’s favorite (or perhaps least favorite) power metal band, Dragonforce.

MM: Can you think of any bands that make your time over there easier?

MK: Here in the Kingdom of Bahrain, metal is practically non-existent. All you will hear on the radio is American pop, as well as various Arabic and Indian music, the latter of which I find particularly abrasive and hard to listen to. I think Tunisia’s Myrath is my favorite band to play out here; they really capture the “desert metal” sound.

MM: When did you first enlist? Any regrets? What is your current title (rank)?

MK: I enlisted  exactly 13 years ago: July 26, 2002. I’m an Operations Specialist, First Class (typically written OS1) in the US Navy, and formerly an Aviation Electronics Technician. No regrets! I get paid to see the world and have my college education paid for. Considering I was lazy in high school and had zero prospects after graduating, this career helped me find purpose, develop skills, and meet a lot of great people. Of course, there are caveats. The biggest is that I rarely get to see my family and friends back home. It’s a challenging lifestyle, but I love it.

MM: Describe your daily routine.

MK: Daily routine. A typical day for me involves me riding my bike (yes, a bicycle) to the base in 100+ degree weather. Then I get set up at my terminal where I basically monitor the entire Arabian Gulf and communicate with a number of our ships out there, essentially relaying info from them to people here (supply concerns, questions regarding tasking, personnel issues etc) as well as passing them tactical direction from the commanders here. The typical shift is 12 hours, after which I ride back home, hit the gym, and pass out. Then I do it all over again the next day. It usually stays interesting because there’s always issues that pop up. Strong communication makes it a lot easier.

MM: What are your future plans in life?

MK: My intent is to do 20 years in the Navy and retire, then return to the WNY area. I also intend on getting hitched with my girlfriend Melissa at some point. I don’t know how she puts up with my shit, but I’m thankful for that.

MM: What can our readers expect from you down the line here on The Metal?

MK: Right now, I post on Facebook when I can, but I intend on writing album reviews for the main page very soon!

Well, Matt sends his horns and hails to you all, but unfortunately that’s it for the interview! In the very near future, I plan on doing some throwback album reviews. Matt will be reviewing Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell sometime soon, given the 25 year anniversary. I can’t wait to start incorporating fresh perspectives on classic metal albums, decades after their releases. Furthermore, I’ll be conducting an interview with Tom Bieler from I’m From The Government and I’m Here to Help. Tom (also coming from a military background) will be contributing a monthly article to The Metal called, “Hard Truth” and we’re stoked to read what he has in store for us! Not to mention, there will be plenty more of our usual opinion pieces, album reviews, show reviews, other interviews and such on their way!

So, prepare yourselves! We plan on closing out our debut year strong!


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