Written by Mike Deitzman*
Most people reading this blog probably know Matt Swistak. Either by his actual name, or nicknames which include Varg Norway, The Picnic, Matt from Fireborn and most notably “The Party” Matt’s been a staple in the local metal scene since around 1998. I’ve never met a single person with a bad thing to say about him. He’s likely the most heartfelt, genuine person you will ever come across. That being said, I’ve gathered a few people from the scene to roast that son of a bitch. Ya see, Matt is straight edge. He’s got the tattoos to prove it. However, if you knew Matt before 2007, you’re most likely still confused how THAT GUY is now over 9 years clean. Today, we tell some of the stories that have long since been buried. Let’s pull back the curtain, and reveal some stories about “The Shitty Dudes”, Team Party and Party World Order (PWO 4 life)
Up first is Lindsay Leyland from Pollock
Lindsay first met Matt smack dab in the middle of The Party’s hardcore booze phase. Here’s one story about one of his legendary birthday parties.
“There was one time his bday party at his parents house he got so trashed he passed out in the bathroom. But because he’s so damn tall he barricaded himself in the bathroom with his own legs. They had the door blocked so no one could get in. We had to resort to pounding on the door until he eventually woke up.”
Some of those stories of the Party’s Party are so racey, we can’t tell them in the PC world we live in now.
This next story isn’t necessarily my story to tell but, it’s amazing and typical of Matt in that era.
Matt’s always had to ability to have great friends not just in the metal scene but all walks of life. One weekend, a group of his decidedly non metal friends chose to get a limo and hit the club’s downtown. Everyone chipped in for the limo, and were slightly pre gaming before they got downtown. Matt was guzzling beers and shots. Now to backtrack just a moment, everyone of his non metal friends were dressed for the occasion, nice, classy clothes. Matt showed up in a death metal shirt and army pants. They get downtown to the club, and Matt isn’t allowed entry because of his dress code. So, Drunken Party walks er, I guess clumsily stumbles is more accurate down to the (sorely missed) Club Diablo where our old friends Seize The Soul were playing. At this point, Matt is clearly intoxicated, and he’s telling every single person in the building “I GOT KICKED OUT OF THIS CLUB”, he’s so loud that you can hear him clearly over the band playing, which if you’ve ever been to a show at Diablo isn’t an easy task. So, at this point he’s amongst friends, he’s pretty safe right? We’ll just let him sober up and make sure he gets home. Club Diablo served (amongst many other delicious at the time but impossible to drink now) Baron Jager. A shot we were kind of obsessed with at the time, and Diablo seemed to be the only bar in town that served it. So, Matt proceeds to go from severely intoxicated to “not sure if he’s dead or sleeping” Our good buddy Tim elected to bring him home, despite not having a clue as to where Matt lived. He somehow gets into Tim’s truck, and proceeds to fall into a deeper sleep than any coma victim. Tim shakes Matt awake at an exit to get further directions, and The Party gives him “the look” we all know what look I’m referring to, the “I’m going to puke every meal I’ve ever had” look. Tim, quickly reacts and says “out the door Matt;!!” Matt opens the door, looks back at Tim and slow motion passes out backwards out of the truck. I believe the impact Matt’s hard head gave the pavement can still be seen all these years later.
Up next is Greg from Seplophile. Here’s Greg’s Party stories…
“I’ve known Matt Swistak (a.k.a The Party, a.k.a The Picnic, a.k.a. Varg Norway) since I was about 17 years old. We worked at Burger King together and it seems like we passed the time talking exclusively about two things: metal (specifically Testament’s album “the gathering”),and wrestling. Our conversational topics haven’t really changed a whole lot over the years, but Matt has. Not his personality really, but more so his ability to be a complete whirlwind of high altitude chaos. I don’t really remember Varg being a big drinker at first, but I remember the night that changed and what I believe to be the birth of “The Party”, though I may be mistaken. In the summer of 2003 Death Angel was playing at The Cruise Inn in Lackawanna, NY, Matt got pretty wasted that night which was out of character compared to other hang outs. Laughing hysterically at like a 6’3″ Viking looking dude consistently toppling over all night isn’t particularly nice, but it also isn’t particularly optional. Also noteworthy of that evening was Matt approaching Dan Lilker to fanboy out while the aforementioned underground metal legend was relieving himself in the urinal.
One more for the road shall we? Maybe a year later Matt and Fred Dombrowski came into the Mobil gas station I worked at to visit at about 10 pm, which was nothing unusual. What was unusual was that The Party (I think) was wearing Fred’s thrift store 1970’s era clothes and sunglasses. Now, Fred is maybe 5’9″, and pretty skinny, so if you will please now picture a 6’3″ Viking wearing those clothes, shitfaced. Pretty hilarious stuff. Fred is a great friend and a funny guy, (but don’t let the legit positivity and PhD fool you, I’ve seen him try to put out fires with gasoline so many times that my body hair is permanently singed) and if he knows he can get you to do something that’ll make him laugh, he’ll get you to do it, even if you don’t totally want to. It’s uncanny, it’s scary, and thanks to an educational system that clearly doesn’t know any better, it’s now official, but I digress. So, Matt is kinda stumbling around the store, falling into the potato chips and such when Fred grabs a 24 oz can of Natural Ice out of the cooler and just hands it to Matt. Matt immediately pops it, to which I ask him to not do in the vicinity of security cameras, he obliges and retreats to the bathroom….and emerges about 90 seconds later with a completely drained can. They left a couple minutes later, Fred would probably be best to pick it up from there, but I believe it ended up in Matt running into a street sign on Delaware ave. like 3 hours later. Anyway, those are a couple of my favorite memories of the Party era.”
As Greg puts it… Fred from From This Day would be best to pick it up from here… Fred?
“OK, I will give a few stories. But here is the continuation of the story that Greg was talking about.
In 2004, Matt was jamming with From This Day as we needed a second guitar player. I knew Matt from Fireborn and had opportunities to talk to him at shows and always thought he was a cool guy. But I would respectfully disagree with Greg as to how “The Party” was born. When he joined FTD, he was known as Varg Norway (a perfectly fitting and descriptive name that Gregadeth has a natural talent for connecting with people). The night that Greg is talking about was June 25th 2004 (yep, I am pretty weird when it comes to remembering days). One of the reasons why I had success in bands is because Al always believed in getting to become friends with the people you are in a band with. So, as I didn’t know Matt too much at the time, I knew he liked wrestling and that he was interested in going to a WWE house show. As Greg discussed my willingness to put out fires with gasoline, this period of my life was the height of these actions as the motto that Greg and I shared when we went out was “Our goal is to ruin it for everyone else.” So, I had numerous costumes and outfits that I would wear out in public that would just be weird or stupid. When Matt and I had decided to go to wrestling, we considered dressing up like idiots in 70s disco outfits. I didn’t think MAtt would be down but he totally was. The bad thing was, he didn’t have any disco clothes so I gave him some. Before we attended the WWE show, Matt and I visited Gregadeth at the Mobil gas station. Matt had pregamed drinking a few beers. When we got to Mobil (maybe I was a bad influence on MAtt) Matt somehow got a beer and cracked it open. While he is drinking it, Greg said “Hey man, you may not want to do that in here.” MAtt being the gentleman that he is convened to the rest room where he slammed 2 Natty Ice’s. When we went to wrestling, I was actually doing some work for my job so I asked Matt to be discreet about his drinking. We had a good time in our disco outfits. But, I noticed him double fisting beers. I think he went maybe 3 or 4 times for beers throughout the night. He seemed fine. BUT, the second I was done doing my work duties, he said “Dude, I am so wasted.” So, what do we do then? A friend of mine was throwing a party for a band he had been recording. They were like a Hippie Jam band (they were actually pretty good for what they did). So, MAtt and I attend the party in our disco outfits. While we are there, we just started talking to girls and being obnoxious. He had no fear and just kept drinking. My friend throwing the party asked everyone to sit in his living room and listen to the music he made with this hippie jam band. Here we all are in this cramped living room listening to hippie music. Everyone seemed to focus on the music except for MAtt who was doing windmills and headbanging while the equivalent of the Grateful Dead was playing. We then left the party and met with some friends in Allen Town. I wasn’t drinking alcohol at the time and while we were bar hopping, 6 foot 11 Matt wearing my 5 foot 9 clothes was jumping around into traffic trying to hit street signs. He was hilarious and one of my friends we were with said “He’s like a one man party.” That’s when we started calling him the party.
The legend only increased when I lived at the Westbrook on Delaware. My old roommate Morrow and I used to play a game. We would go to a store and we would buy each other beers. Whatever I bought him he would drink and whatever he bought me I would drink. I was a good dude so I got him Guinness. However, he got me a malt beverage which is no longer in production called Street Legal 40 (it was 20oz at 10% alcohol). One of these would get me hammered. The Party would come and hang out with us and have like 2 at a time. The one night I was having a party, and the Party was staying at my place. Morrow had just broken up with his girlfriend and was helping me clean up the apartment. The Party meets us back at my place and tells me this story about this girl he met, how she knows of our band, and how she is super hot and wanted to have sex with him. It turns out it was Morrow’s exgirlfriend. Although it was kind of funny at the time, I could see how it was frustrating for Morrow. The Party decided to try to smooth things over with Morrow by jumping on his bed while he was sleeping and swinging his junk in Morrow’s face saying “You like that Morrow?! I know someone else who is going to like that too.” This started a friendly feud between Morrow and the Party as Morrow would draw on the Party’s face when he was passed out. Morrow also started calling the Party “The Picnic” to challenge Matt’s supremacy as “THE PARTY”. This culminated into a terrible incident when we were out at Jim’s Steakout following a night of heavy drinking. I think I was wearing my white trash outfit or my sexually confused runners outfit. But, while we were at Jims the Party and I sat at one table while Morrow and some other friends sat at another table. The Party buys a gum ball (I mean one of those really big gum balls that are bigger than gulf balls). He looks at me and says “Fred, I should throw this at Morrow’s head.” I cracked up because it was so ridiculous. But, he did it. I don’t know if the gum ball bounced off the wall first and then hit Morrow’s head or if it were the other way around but it sounded terrible. Like a large rock hitting someone’s skull. I think Morrow had a goose egg for like a day or two. Other stories include Matt and I hanging out with the guys from Psyopus and his passing out at the Westbrook to have the guys from Psyopus cover him in garbage and write on him.
Although Matt quit drinking, he still maintained The Party persona. We went to go see a band of a friend of ours with a girl singer. WE all knew the band and got along with them pretty well. During the one song, the singer approached me and crotched down to me to make eye contact. I was friends with her and knew her pretty well so I enjoyed the moment and grabbed her dress like I was having a good time. This was not aggressive in any way and no one in the band had any problems with it. But, this goth kid comes up to me and yells at me “Hey man, get off of her.” I knew the band and I was good friends with the singer so the last thing I wanted to do was make it look like I was doing something to start a fight. So, I humbly just moved in the back and enjoyed the rest of the band. While MAtt, Andy, and myself made joked about the experience, the goth kid who yelled at me had a black bandana in his back pocket. The PArty grabs the bandana and wipes his butt with it and puts it back in the kids pocket without him even knowing.
The Party and Andy had come out to CT to hang out with me a few times. One night when we came home, we were really drunk (not Matt though). We had this idea to make the most ridiculous picture ever. The picture was Andy eating a pickle. But, behind him would be the Party entirely naked and where is junk is, you can’t see it because the pickle is covering it up. The picture was amazing and we were insanely cracking up. We woke up my girlfriend and she comes out to the living room to find Andy and I rolling on the floor laughing unable to breath and the Party standing there entirely naked laughing at us.
There are probably dozens of other stories. But, for a good view of the Party in action, you can see how awesome he is in this video:”
In closing… Matt is one of the best People to know in this life. He’s put his drinking days behind him, met a wonderful woman, smartly wifed her up, he’s gotten some degrees, and is doing well for himself. Shouts out to Matt for having a great sense of humor and allowing this article to happen. He could of easily said no, and he didn’t.