[Matthew “Chalky” Chalk owns more than 600 band T-shirts, which makes choosing what he will wear for Ausmusic T-Shirt Day a tricky proposition.
- Today is Ausmusic T-shirt day and people are encouraged to wear a shirt featuring an Australian band
- Matthew ‘Chalky’ Chalk has more than 600 band T-shirts and he wears them all
- Buying merchandise from bands is one way musicians have made income during COVID-19 lockdowns
November is Ausmusic Month and today is the 20th Ausmusic T-Shirt Day, when people are encouraged to wear a shirt featuring an Australian band to show their support for the local industry.
Chalk is a musician, band promoter, and a metalhead from Tasmania, and while his collection of T-shirts includes many Tasmanian and Australian bands, he also has T-shirts from metal bands he loves from around the world.
“Last year for Ausmusic T-shirt Day I wore a T-shirt from a Melbourne death-doom band,” he told ABC Radio Hobart.
“I like to wear something less common and I will post a photo on Instagram,” Chalk said.
The live music industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, with most gigs cancelled since March.
Even as restrictions in many parts of Australia ease, most venues will only be able to host a limited number of patrons to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Ausmusic T-Shirt Day will also highlight the mental health of those working in the music industry with calls for donations to Support Act, a charity that helps those working in the music industry who are facing hardship on the grounds of illness, injury and mental health issues.
Obsession began at 10
Chalk was given his first band T-shirt when he was 10, a Metallica Master of Puppets T-shirt.
Soon after that he bought his first, featuring Guns N’ Roses.
“It was a cool shirt with a skull wearing the same hat as Slash, with a tongue hanging out and blood dripping off the tongue and guns and roses. All the usual stuff.
“It was a tough T-shirt for a 10-year-old.”
Asked which T-shirt he would buy next, Chalk said “it is a dangerous, dangerous question”.
“I contribute to a few ‘best albums of the year’ lists so I am always accumulating cool albums, and if I stumble across something that blows my mind I have to have their shirts.
“I have messaged a band recently because I couldn’t find any merch.”
Band T-shirt etiquette
He has approached people on the street, enthusing about their T-shirts, only to be rebuffed by the other T-shirt wearer who did not understand the significance of the shirt they were wearing.
“I’m one of these people who gets angry when I see people wear shirts and they don’t know the band,” Chalk said.
“If I see someone in the street or at a gig wearing something that is rare I get a kick out of it.
“I’m not a stickler or an elitist. You don’t need to know all the names of the band members, every album, every song.
“If you’ve heard them and you like them, even one song and you’ve loved it, that’s enough.”
How to wear 600 T-shirts
Chalk said he used to wear two band T-shirts and a long sleeved one, but then bands started making hoodies too.
“It’s common now for bands to have hooded jumpers, but it wasn’t common at all [back] then,” he said.
“So if you wanted to deck yourself out and be warm in Tasmania you’ve got to be wearing a few layers.
“I probably have bought more T-shirts in the last 12 months than I have for a long time because of the whole COVID scenario.
“Everyone is doing it tough, so if I can support a bunch of bands by buying their merchandise at least it makes them feel better, that they are not just sitting at home wishing they could be playing live, wishing they could be touring the world.”