The harder you work for what you want in life, the more rewarding it is when you finally get it. For years Simon Mathews’ goal was to move from his home country of Malaysia, get a degree in concert touring, and secure a job with Clair Bros. – one of the premiere live production companies in the industry. To learn that he actually made his dream come true is impressive on its own, but hearing the steps he took to realize it is a humbling lesson in the power of determination.
“I always wanted to work for Clair, and that meant going to school in the U.S.,” he says. “I found out about Full Sail, and knew it was where I wanted to study. It took me seven years to save up the money to move. I did sound and lights at shows in my town, took on odd jobs, whatever I could do. There was really never any other choice for me, I wanted it that bad, and I did it.”
Simon enrolled in our Show Production program in 2006, and flew to Florida sight unseen the day before his orientation armed only with a pair of suitcases. It was his first trip to the States, and you can only imagine how he felt throwing himself into this new life. Wasting no time, he immediately focused on learning as much as he could, and took advantage of every resource available on campus. That’s not an exaggeration.
“I spent a good 18 hours in school every day,” he says. “I’d just get up and go to campus, it didn’t matter to me if I had a lecture or not, I was there. Even in my first month I was going to the labs for later classes in the program and asking if I could just sit in and listen.”
Not surprisingly, Simon began prepping for his job search months before graduation, and worked with our Career Development department to put together his resume and research potential leads. As an international student, once he was finished with school he only had 60 days to land a job in order to extend his Visa. Not long before the deadline, he got a call for an interview with his first choice, Clair Bros.
“They called on Friday night and wanted me to interview Monday in Pennsylvania – I told them I’d be there,” he says, “I flew up that morning, took a cab from the airport, walked into their building on the dot and had my interview. I flew back to Florida that same day feeling great about everything. It finally got down to two days before I had to report to the government, so I called the person that I’d interviewed with and they said I’d been hired.”
Days later Simon made his second major move in less than two years to join Clair as a sound technician in early 2008. He spent his first six months at their shop learning their processes for loading trucks, mastering and troubleshooting proprietary gear, and how everything works together on the road, after which he was given his first pair of gigs – touring with a production of Kidz Bop and the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. Not long after proving himself, the company began sending him out on a series of major productions, which to date have included globe-spanning treks with such artists as the Black Eyed Peas, Elton John and Billy Joel, and Guns n’ Roses.
“Those are all people I grew up listening to, so to be doing shows for them is a big thing for me,” he says. “The Black Eyed Peas in 2010 was definitely a favorite. They were great people to work with, and just a huge tour. There were 26 trucks, 100 people on the crew, and we did shows every night in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America.”
It’s obvious that Simon Mathews has come a long way, both geographically and professionally, since he started working towards his career in live music. There’s a well-earned sense of pride as he’s now able to share rock n’ roll road stories like a seasoned vet, but what’s important to keep in mind is that his own journey to this point is just as fascinating.
“Looking back, the thing I’m most proud of is that I kept my goal in front of me, went after it, and never gave up,” he says. “Now that I’m actually here, I just love all of it. When I see the crowd enjoying the show, the happiness on their faces gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I did my job right. So it’s all been exactly what I thought it was going to be, and I finish my nights thinking ‘Wow, I did that.’”