Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Link 80's original guitarist


Matt Bettinelli-Olpin was a founding member of East Bay ska-core band Link 80. The band members started playing together in 1993 while they were young teens. Their first album, 17 Reasons, was released in 1997 on Asian Man Records—the first official release on the label not including albums that were brought over from Dill Records. 17 Reasons is a truly unique ska-punk record that blends hardcore, street punk, ska and filters it through an abrasive Gilman vibe and has surprisingly loose grooves mixed in with its intense punk rock explosions.

The group gained some notoriety for being the ska-punk band that romance novelist Danielle Steel’s son Nick Traina fronted, but this factoid was much less interesting than the band’s music, and who they were together as a group. They toured relentlessly and maintained a loyal cult audience, but never got mainstream attention. They also didn’t fit in with other ska bands at their time but would influence the sound of ska-core in the 2000s and beyond.

Matt quit the band in 1998, but went on to a successful career in Hollywood, directing films. His next movie, Scream (also referred to as Scream 5), is set to release in January 2022. The film features much of the original cast from the original 1996 film.

On this episode of In Defense of Ska, Matt talks about Link 80’s origins, what it was like touring with the band. He also delves into his friendship with Nick Traina, and answers the big question on everyone’s mind: Will there be ska Easter eggs in the new Scream film?

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