I met Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone at some point during the sweaty thick of last summer’s Warped Tour, and I remember thinking, “This guy is quite possibly the happiest human being I’ve ever encountered.”
Believe me, in my line of work, I meet a lot of dudes (and the occasional lady) who complain and gripe as they weave through the sunburned Warped masses only to arrive at their signing and flip the charisma switch, turning on the charm and the bright-eyed smile. Hell, I do it myself. Or I would, if presented with the opportunity. Because, like 87 percent of the world, I can be a self-centered dick.
Matthew Leone, however, is not like 87 percent of the world.
That fact is painfully clear after news broke that Leone had been horribly beaten and left unconscious on a Chicago street in the wake of saving a woman in the midst of a violent domestic dispute.
I met Leone after his band did a signing at the AP Tent in what I vaguely recall to be Buffalo, New York. The occasion stands out in my mind because I remember needing to run off to get footage of A Day To Remember, who were just taking the stage, but not being able to leave on time because Leone and his twin brother Nathan remained at the tent meeting fans and taking pictures long past their scheduled window.
Granted, nearly every band boast about their affinity for post-show fan interaction. I’d conservatively estimate that I hear the phrase, “I always stick around to sign every autograph and meet every fan” about 8 out of 10 times I interview anyone possessing a tenuous grasp of four or more guitar chords.
But Madina Lake were different. At that moment, those guys legitimately didn’t want to be anywhere else. Even I wanted to be somewhere else. But they weren’t gonna budge until every last program and T-shirt within a seven-tent radius was emblazoned with their signatures.
I admit, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Leone—we exchanged our industrial pleasantries, went our separate ways and likely later stood next to each other for two hours in the catering line. But if I had known the true extent of what a stand-up guy he is, I woulda wanted to hang out with him as much as possible.
Who among us would really get involved in such a volatile altercation happening between total strangers? How many people before Leone probably walked by the fighting couple on the street with their head down, or worse—stared right at them without lifting a finger? My guess: at least a few.
My thoughts—like so many of Madina Lake’s fans'—are with Leone and also his brother Nathan, who I’m sure is in his own unthinkable agony. This is just a scenario that I can’t even imagine having to go through.
The cliché, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy” doesn’t do any justice to this injustice. Because the simple fact is that there aren’t many nicer guys. At least not many I’m aware of.
Get well, man. I’ll stand next to you in catering any day.