Archived Story

Niles teen recruited by Michiana band

Published 5:29pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Niles teenager has gone from playing the video game “Guitar Hero” to being paid to play in an up-and-coming Michiana rock band.

Aspiring musician and Brandywine grad Collin Mattiford is now a member of the band, Michigan City Vandals. Photo courtesy of Lori Diane Photography
Aspiring musician and Brandywine grad Collin Mattiford is now a member of the band, Michigan City Vandals.
Photo courtesy of Lori Diane Photography

Collin Mattiford, a 2013 Brandywine High graduate, will be debuting with the Michigan City Vandals at Lake Michigan Breeze in Coloma Friday.

An aspiring musician, Mattiford was discovered while playing guitar at an open mic night at Czar’s 505 in St. Joseph this summer. The club’s owner was so impressed by Mattiford’s play that he contacted his friend, Julee Laurent-Clancy, the lead singer and bass player for Michigan City Vandals.

In need of a new guitarist, Clancy booked it to the club.

“The second I saw Collin I knew,” Clancy said. “We didn’t even play with him when we asked him to be in the band.”

Mattiford remembers that night, too.

“It’s funny. I didn’t even have to audition,” he said. “[Julee] said ‘welcome to the band.’ I thought that was pretty amazing.”

Clancy gave the 19-year-old Mattiford a list of eight songs to work on before the first practice session about a week later.

“I thought he’d learn maybe three or four, but he showed up knowing all the songs. He is very professional, has a great ear and learns so fast it’s almost scary,” she said.

The real thing

Mattiford was introduced to the guitar through the PlayStation 2 game “Guitar Hero” at age 13.

“It got me interested in classic rock. Aerosmith was a big start for me. I really liked their stuff,” he said.

Mattiford got an acoustic guitar at age 14 and an electric one at 15. He learned the basics from a DVD guitar tutorial and taught himself the rest, playing songs by ear from AC/DC, Green Day and Nirvana — still three of his favorite bands.

“I enjoyed it because it was something I could do on my own,” he said. “You can make stuff up and can learn to do it your own way and I thought that was really cool. I feel happy when I’m playing.”

Mattiford played a few gigs while in high school, including at last year’s Apple Festival with the band Falling to the Top.

He said he is excited to play with Michigan City Vandals, an indie rock band that has produced original music, albums and traveled all over the United States.

“This is really the first time I’ve been out with a band that does originals and is out there booking gigs, so it is a learning experience,” he said. “I would love to see it go further. I would love to get out there and perform all over the place. It’s been something I’ve dreamed of doing for a long time.”

The Michigan City Vandals include Clancy, her husband, Matt, and Mattiford. Matt is a 1990 Niles High School graduate.

To learn more about Michigan City Vandals, visit

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