Robert Matarazzo came into his own as a songwriter in 2001. Although he had enjoyed a Top Ten hit with the single "Always Come Back to You" from the CD of the same name on Atlantic Records in the early '90s, he chose the intimacy of small clubs, coffeehouses, and bars over bigger venues for the rest of the '90s.
That Robert Matarazzo Thing showed the influences of Radiohead and Coldplay, and performed regularly at Krogh's Café, Sweet Dreams Café, Café Eclectic, Shakey Jakes, and Green Bean's Café in New Jersey -- with a new lineup consisting of Matarazzo on guitar and vocals, Jason Laughlin on electric guitar, Dave Hunscher on bass, and Jonathan Ward on drums -- beginning in the summer of 2001.
That Robert Matarazzo Thing first formed in October 1999 as a duo with Matarazzo and drummer/percussionist Ned Stroh. Soon bassists Brian Herkert (Swampadelica) and Dave Von Dolen (Railroad Earth) joined them on the CD Diary of an Also-Ran on Peccavi Records, Ltd. in 2000. Also in 2000, Matarazzo returned to New Jersey after spending two years in Los Angeles, where he raised money to record his 2001 CD, Sins and Flaws in Different Shades. Prior to its release, he recorded Thursday, Friday, Sunday with vocalist Nicole Grana and violinist Tim Carbone (From Good Homes) in 1999.
Matarazzo first met Stroh at an open-mic run by Carbone at Krogh's Café in New Jersey. When Stroh decided to move Germany to marry his girlfriend, Herkert departed for Swampadelica, and Von Dolen joined Railroad Earth, Matarazzo got the idea to start anew with That Robert Matarazzo Thing.
Matarazzo and Laughlin met at Café Eclectic in New Jersey and discovered they shared an interest in '70s British pop and the American '70s group Bread. Laughlin brought in other new bandmembers from the New Jersey band Seed 'N' Sol.
Matarazzo's earlier group, Natasha's Brother, signed to Atlantic Records in 1989 after his manager, Janice Roeg, provided industry executive Ahmet Ertigun with his demo tape. Keyboardist William Mallory, Matarazzo's collaborator on the project, split with him before their CD, Always Come Back to You (1991), was released and produced a Top Ten single hit with its title song for Atlantic Records.
Matarazzo worked as a songwriter with Warner/Chappel Publishing in N.Y.C. from 1991-1994, co-writing songs with Dianne Warren and Robert White Johnson.
Jeanne Mas and the Egoists recorded his song "Yesterday's Clear," which was released in France as "Anna" in 1997, and that same year, Johnny Halliday recorded his song "What She Don't Know."
Prior to forming his first band, Spender, with Mallory, Matarazzo worked as an actor in musicals such as The Sound of Music, Oliver, and Shenandoah at regional cabaret and musical theaters such as the Papermill Playhouse, Barn Theater, and the Meadowbrook in New Jersey.
Matarazzo brought all of his experiences in music to bear in his songwriting. With their new lineup, That Robert Matarazzo Thing recorded another CD in August 2001.