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In My Doc's, Music, Style


Welcome to In My Docs – the feature where we shine a spotlight on the very cool people who work in our stores and headquarters. Why? Well, because they’re the ones who really ‘live’ the rebellious, unique Dr. Martens brand… and know how to seriously rock a pair of Docs of course.
In this installment we meet Mr. Matt Robbins from our global head office. A man with an encyclopedic knowledge of music to rival any Docs staff member. Read on to discover more about him.

I would describe myself as a plant loving musically obsessed cultural car crash. I have an unhealthy obsession with 60’s, 70’s and 80’s counter-culture, art, fashion, films… and music. I own far too many records, very old ones, mostly first pressings.

Introduce yourself:
My name is Matt Robbins, I’m the Senior Category Manager for Men’s Casual footwear at Dr. Martens. I’m based in Camden at the Global HQ – It’s brilliant, the office looks out over Regent’s canal and the market, I feel really lucky to be able to work somewhere so massively vibrant and central. I’ve been working here for just over 18 months and have been in the footwear industry for REDACTED. Before I landed in the world of shoes I made films and worked in record shops, my life was a lot like the video to ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)’ by the Beastie Boys… Nowadays it’s a lot closer to ‘Orinocco Flow’ by Enya.

I grew up in the North of England and between now and then work has taken me to Portland (OR), New York, Amsterdam and Nuremberg. In the nicest way possible, I would describe myself as a plant loving musically obsessed cultural car crash. I have an unhealthy obsession with 60’s, 70’s and 80’s counter-culture, art, fashion, films… and music. I own far too many records, very old ones, mostly first pressings.

What Dr. Martens are you wearing at the moment?
I am wearing the Lombardo, it’s part of the Robson style family. It’s one of the most comfortable shoes we have ever made. I like it because it’s chunky, wide and warm as well as being like slipping your foot into a duvet when you put it on. We make some amazing casual product, I mean, obviously I would say that because I manage it but the designers and developers, the people in sourcing who work on it, they are truly world class, industry leaders. They bring hundreds of years of combined shoe making experience together to make some very cool, understated, insanely comfortable footwear.

Matt wears the Lombardo boot.

Can you tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens?
I was given my first 1460’s by my mate Tim years ago when he got a new pair. Actually I think I swapped them for a giant plastic bottle of White Lightning cider, I would have been 17. They were well worn by the time they were passed onto me but despite that they somehow managed to survive years of mosh pits, band practices, the 1992 Reading Festival and many of the North’s finest indie/alternative clubs complete with their 50p pints, beer-sticky floors and doors without toilets… Happy days.

How would you describe your style?
I was recently pulled up by one of my kids (who just turned 7) because my jeans were too low. He demonstrated the correct positioning of them pointing out that the pockets should be aligned with your buttocks not ‘half way down your leg’. I’m currently working on taking his advice but am very much from that era where people walked around with their trousers considerably lower than they should be. I blame Hip-Hop… I’m pretty sure I’m getting a belt for Christmas.

On a good day my ‘style’ sits somewhere between redneck chic and what we term ‘grown up with attitude’. On a less good day I look like a tourist who spent too much money on his trousers. My favourite piece of clothing is the jacket I’m wearing, a late 1980’s DeLong Detroit Lions letterman jacket. It’s the exactly the same as the one that Eddie Murphy’s character wore in Beverly Hills Cop 2.

What 3 tracks are you listening to right now?
Wow. This is a particularly difficult question, hopefully you can forgive the ramble. I’ve been infatuated with music and the youth movements around scenes and tribes since mistakenly thinking I was ‘New Wave’ aged 9. Since then I’ve been indie, punk, into hardcore, into all the metals, obsessed over 60’s garage and krautrock, oh and then there’s the jazz.

I tend to do ‘deep dives’ where I’ll listen to everything by a band, including side projects whilst reading about them to try and get a better understanding of what they were trying to do at the time. I spent Christmas listening to Adam and the Ants and before that a week focusing on The Sisters of Mercy. I grew up with ‘Floodland’ but never really thought about the sound that Andrew Eldrich got out of it until recently, It’s truly epic. I once spent a month listening to nothing but Nagasaki garage rock revivalists Guitar Wolf… Considerably less epic but conclusive at least.

Mark Hollis (formerly of Talk Talk) once said ‘Before you play two notes learn how to play one note – and don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it’. I tend to always have that in mind when it comes to listening to music. It needs to succeed in being emotive, inspirational or sonically overwhelming.

Anyway, 3 songs I’m listening to now… I’m assuming that’s a typo and that you mean 30.
1. Demis Roussos – O My Friends You’ve Been Untrue To Me (1971)
2. The Contortions – Designed To Kill (1979)
3. Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda (1971)
4. Fugazi – I’m So Tired (1999)
5. United States Of America – Coming Down (1968)
6. Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (1969)
7. Johnny Thunders – You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory (1978)
8. Richard and Linda Thompson – Calvary Cross (1974)
9. Spectrum – How You Satisfy Me (1992)
10. Pearls Before Swine – Translucent Carriages (1969)
11. Donnie and Joe Emerson – Give Me the Chance (1979)
12. Os Mutantes – Baby (English language version) (1968)
13. Fairport Convention – Book Song (1969)
14. Baxter Dury – Mungo (2017)
15. Manfred Mann Chapter Three – One Way Glass (1969)
16. Donna Summer – I Feel Love (Patrick Cowley Mega Mix) (1978)
17. Big Black – Fists of Love (1986)
18. Magazine – A Song From Under The Floorboards (1980)
19. Glen Campbell – Galveston (1969)
20. The Cure – All Cats Are Grey (1981)
21. Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Never Can Say Goodbye (1972)
22. Portishead – Machine Gun (2008)
23. ABBA – Eagle (1977)
24. Art Ensemble of Chicago – Theme De Yoyo (1969)
25. Fifty Foot Hose – God Bless The Child (1967)
26. Fleetwood Mac – Book of Love (Early Version) (1982)
27. The Cryin’ Shames – Please Stay (1966)
28. A Flock Of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (1983)
29. Girls Against Boys – My Night of Pleasure (1992)
30. Slint – Good Morning Captain (1991)

Yeah, I like that list, it’s a good list. I’m excited by that list. Pretty much everything on that list gives me goosebumps.

What’s your favourite thing about the city you live in?
I live in London (N1). I’ve been here on and off since 1998. Mostly I spend my time being a dad and doing dad stuff or trying not to record shop. When I’m not doing either of those things I quite like a decent pub: The Cockpit in St. Pauls, The Island Queen in Islington, The Flask in Highgate, The Dolphin in King’s Cross are all well worth a visit

My favourite place to danceSpellbound at the Komedia in Brighton. It’s not particularly local but then it’s not exactly easy to find a night that plays Siouxsie and the Banshees B Sides either. There’s also The Nitty Gritty at the Endurance in Camden, it’s a 60’s soul and garage night in the basement of a pub by the canal, nice and sweaty.

My favourite place to eat – There’s a restaurant in Tufnell Park called Ceremony that I rate and a killer Vietnamese in Camden called Anmee. Oh and if it’s a special occasion Dabbous and Petrus put on a half decent spread.

My favourite place to hang out – The reading room at the Wellcome Collection, it’s a gallery of scientific curiosities in Euston. It is amazing. As well as the library they are home to 1.9 million unusual artefacts focusing on weird medical instruments, tribal gonks, ancient weapons, torture devices and shrunken heads, y’know, cool stuff. To put into perspective the Louvre in Paris only has 1.3 million artefacts and zero shrunken heads.

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Mostly I’m inspired by very old actors and dead jazz musicians. The work that Miles Davis was doing in the early to mid 70’s is incredible. I can’t see that kind of natural focused creativity ever being replicated. Anyway, I’d bring back Peter Falk. As well as being Columbo he was in some great films during the late 60s and 70s including the original ‘In Laws’ (1979) alongside Alan Arkin which is absolutely brilliant.

I’d take him to the Cigar Tasting Room at the Ritz and then on a pub crawl of Shepherd Market in Mayfair, then maybe to buy fireworks. We’d end the evening by trying but failing to get into the RAF Club. I don’t think I’d ask him much, mostly it would be about getting drunk, doing bad Columbo impressions and maybe solving some crimes.

What are your top three product picks this season?
Revive, Revive and Revive. It’s all about the Revive, The Elsfield or the Ember are my two pics from that family of footwear. I’d wear them with massive drop-crotch jeans… tent like things and a ridiculously huge white t-shirt.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
So based on the Marvel and DC universes superpowers tend to come with huge downsides: You either get seen as a mutant or you can’t function properly in society due to the weight of the tragedy that has led to your evolution: I can’t think of a super hero that can lead a normal life, plus they have to always keep an eye out because someone is gunning for them. Super powers attract super villains and the eternal headache of dealing with a heavily armed arch-nemesis. Superman doesn’t tend to get painted as happy nowadays, X-Men, Avengers, Justice League, Fantastic 4 same thing. If you want to see how dark things can get take a look at ‘The Boys’ by Garth Ennis or Mark Waid’s ‘Irredeemable’.

This said if I had to choose one I quite like the idea of being able to redistribute all of the world’s wealth through some kind of psychic mind power. Then I’d end world poverty.

…I’m kidding, I’d keep it all for myself and buy a massive helmet made out of diamonds.

And finally, what do you stand for?
My mantra used to be: 
‘Have a good time all of the time’ – ‘Spinal Tap’ (1984)
… but that kind of didn’t work out so now I’m trying: ‘What Would Dennis Hopper Do?’, and I’ve got to be honest I’m currently coming up against a very similar set of mantra based problems.

What do I believe in?
I’ve recently become quite spiritual which is at complete odds with every decision I have ever made so I’m not sure I’m currently qualified to answer that just yet.
I think it was Henry Rollins that said: ‘You can only trust yourself and the first six Black Sabbath albums’. I can get behind that.

As for what motivates me?
My kids and their dreams for the future, a decent bottle of wine, the belief that true metal will one day unite mankind and the fact that I work for an honest blue collar brand that has over the years become an integral part of global alternative culture.

If you want to be part of the incredible Dr. Martens team, check out job openings online here.

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