As a recording artist, he recorded for Capitol Records and established the video department at Capitol just prior to MTV. He has made the Billboard Magazine Top 40 list in multiple genres almost every year since he began in 1976.
Mathews owns and operates a private studio, TikiTown, along with four production and publishing companies. He is the Chief Creative Officer of proTunes, an online business-to-business music search and licensing solution based in Beverly Hills and Dublin. He also serves as Chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Council of Little Kids Rock, named the 2014 top-rated nonprofit, which provides a nationwide program of free musical education and instruments to impoverished public schools. He has also worked as an expert consultant to the Librarian of Congress at the United States Library of Congress, in the Performing Arts department, and developed the SFSU Performing Arts Certificate program at San Francisco State University.
Mathews began his professional music career very young. At 15 he got his first break playing with American blues musician Elvin Bishop at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore Auditorium. Still too young to drive, he rode with his older band members to Hollywood to 'get a record deal' and walked through Sunset Blvd., stopping at every company with the words 'music' or 'records' in its name. Barry White was the one person to let them in and play their live cassette recording. White's only comment came after he stopped the tape to ask who the drummer was – Mathews raised his hand, prompting a deep-toned "right on" from White.
Returning home to Sacramento, Mathews soon met Steve Perry and began writing songs with a plan to return to LA to record a proper demo with their new band, Ice. They recorded their original material at The Record Plant during the day while Stevie Wonder recorded his classic Talking Book in the same room by night. Wonder heard the drums on the Ice project and asked Mathews if he could use his old Gretsch kit that was set up and proceeded to play drums on the smash "Superstition" while simultaneously singing a vocal (without any musical accompaniment). Ice's project was not so fortunate as the funding ran out before Perry's vocals were completed and unfortunately was never released.
At age 17, with eight years of playing in bands and a costly unfinished group recording under his belt, Mathews decided to focus on songwriting and learning to read and write music on a number of musical instruments.
Mathews began seeking recording sessions to contribute to no matter what musical genre or monetary reward was involved. After making some key connections, he was heralded in session circles as a 'child prodigy' for his multi-instrumentalist talents. Mathews loaded up his school credits with night classes and graduated high school early to continue on as a burgeoning session musician working between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In 1973 Mathews met future long-time collaborator Ron Nagle. Nagle was already an established songwriter and recording artist for Warner Brothers and had made the cult-classic, 'Bad Rice'. Nagle and Mathews teamed up and began to write and record material in Nagle's garage studio in San Francisco. Turning 18, Mathews moved to Sausalito, CA, sharing a house with David Jenkins (musician) of Pablo Cruise, making a living as a session musician while writing and producing 'blueprints for records' with Nagle.
Some of the session work included radio and television jingles and Mathews soon began producing them for various ad agencies, playing all the musical instruments and singing the vocals himself. Strangely, this path paved the way for Roy Orbison to be the very first artist Mathews ever produced in the recording studio. Mathews achieved this having convinced a large advertising agency he could get Orbison to license his biggest worldwide hit, Oh, Pretty Woman for "Tone Soap", a women's soap product. The campaign was such a success that Mathews followed it up with another legendary artist, Johnny Cash on Victoria Station (restaurant) radio ads with exactly the same formula. These projects proved to be Mathews' first, and a first for commercials to feature major hit recording artists in ad campaigns.
Ron Nagle's producer from his solo record, Jack Nitzsche, heard some of the duo's new material and hired them to work on film scores and record projects. Nitzsche was the persuasive, cognitive musical wheel in the studio works of Phil Spector and the early to mid-period records by The Rolling Stones. His arrangements adorned many hits by Jackie DeShannon, Gene Pitney, Darlene Love, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, Neil Young, etc. although he had only one hit under his name, "The Lonely Surfer", released in 1963. Later, he would win an Oscar for co-composing "Up Where We Belong." In Nitzsche, Mathews found his mentor and 'godfather' in the music business and high-profile projects followed soon after.
Performing and producing sessions under Nitzsche, Mathews worked on his first movie soundtrack, the multiple Academy Awards winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and was Nitzsche's multi-instrumentalist and close assistant on various recording projects with major artists such as Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Ry Cooder, Dr. John and a plethora of others.
In 1977, Barbra Streisand heard one of Mathews and Nagle's songs at a meeting with Jack Nitzsche. She asked to meet with the two composers and they got along so well, the three immediately began writing together in a bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel. The end result was Mathews and Nagle landed two previously written songs on Streisand Superman, selling more than five million units upon release. Mathews also assisted Nitzsche in writing the arrangements for the album. Mathews and Nagle also wrote and published songs by The Tubes including the cult favorite, "Don't Touch Me There".
Also in 1977, Mathews performed several major roles on Glen Campbell's #1 crossover hit, Southern Nights which went #1 on the pop, rock and country charts. Mathews also worked on the album of the same name, Southern Nights on Capitol Records by not only performing multiple instruments on the sessions but also choosing material for the album (including the title song), rehearsing the material with Campbell and hiring the musicians for Nitzsche who did the arrangements.
Mathews' reputation and musical versatility made him an in-demand session multi-instrumentalist and vocalist which kept him busy on successful recording projects with such artists as; Labelle, Sammy Hagar, Bobby Womack, David Crosby, The Pointer Sisters, Roky Erikson, David Foster, Giorgio Moroder, Elvin Bishop, Eddie Money and Graham Nash.
During this time, Mathews and Nagle were compiling an extensive catalog of songs and productions and began fielding offers to sign a production deal from major labels including, A&M and Capitol Records. With the new distinction of being hit songwriters and getting more requests from artists for material, they became more business savvy and turned down all offers if the artist tried to get them to assign them a piece of the publishing rights.
In 1979, Nitzsche set Mathews up with a studio full of instruments in Los Angeles and had him play the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed Columbia Pictures film, Hardcoret.
Next, Mathews' friend Robin Williams contacted him to help with a musical finale for his sold out stand-up comedy shows in San Francisco at The Boarding House. Following that success, Williams took the show to New York at the legendary Copacabana. Mathews urged Williams to record some shows, which led to Williams signing a record deal with Casablanca Records and recording the Copacabana shows. The result was an instant Grammy Award winning album, "Reality...What a Concept", the first Grammy winning project for both Williams and Mathews.
As an actor, Mathews starred as Fluke Starbucker (e.g., Luke Skywalker) in the 1977 Star Wars parody Hardware Wars, considered to be the most profitable short film of all time, grossing in excess of $1,000,000.00: considering its paltry $8,000.00 budget. Its relative profit margin was even better than Star Wars.
George Lucas said in an 1999 interview on the UK's The Big Breakfast television show that Hardware Wars was his favorite Star Wars parody. In 2003, the film was honored by Lucasfilm when it was given the Pioneer Award at that year's The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards. In August 2010, Time magazine listed it as one of the top 10 Star Wars fanfilms.
Following Mathews' writing and production work with artists on A&M Records, the label approached him and Nagle to build a band project. Nagle and Mathews, funded by A&M, wrote and produced material under the name Dūrocs. The duo ended up signing with Capitol Records as a production company to produce artists already on the label and/or new artists they brought in. Capitol's Artists and repertoire division pushed for Mathews and Nagle to record their own album as the first project with the label and the duo agreed although the so-called 'band', Durocs, but never had any intention of performing live.
Originally labeled as new wave and power pop, Dūrocs wrote and produced material that was more diverse and explored Mathews and Nagle's interests in the styles of The Brill Building, Leiber and Stoller and Phil Spector with Mathews playing more virtually all of the musical instruments earning him the title of a 'wunderkind' in Rolling Stone Magazine from writer and senior editor, Ben Fong-Torres. Their 1979 self-titled album received a 5-star rating from senior editor, David Fricke in Rolling Stone and achieved worldwide critic acclaim and hit top ten status in sales and radio in Europe.
Being writers and producers first and foremost, Durocs never considered putting a band together in support of the album which shocked Capitol's executives, especially the promotion department which had no idea how to promote the 'non-band'. En lieu of touring, they produced lavish, humorous and highly praised music videos for their two singles which ultimately proved to be slightly ahead of their time. Dūrocs left Capitol late in 1980 to focus on production and songwriting for other artists but before exiting, they set a live pig loose in the Capitol Tower during a quarterly executive meeting with the label. In 1981 the video department Dūrocs built and helped staff became a revenue cash cow at Capitol as the label was prepared to make promotional videos for the new MTV television channel.
Mathews' talents on the Dūrocs project caught the attention of Carl Wilson who passed the LP on to Brian Wilson and they invited Mathews to play and sing with The Beach Boys in the studio. After becoming close friends and musical collaborators, Mathews was invited to become a full-fledged member of The Beach Boys, thus replacing their brother, Dennis Wilson who had fallen on tough times. He became known as the fifth Beach Boy after his consistent behind-the-scenes work. Mathews declined the once-in-a-lifetime offer citing his main aversion to touring but did perform with them on a number of occasions in California.
Over the years Mathews continued to write songs with the Wilsons and work on and off with the group as a session musician, singer and music director for his planned "Pet Sounds Live" world tour project that he designed and began spearheading in 1983 with full participation from Brian Wilson (complete with his original session charts offered). Mathews was aware that all the principles of the band did not approve of the idea and on December 31, 1991, while up at Lake Tahoe with Audrey Wilson (the mother of Brian, Dennis and Carl) and the band, he spoke with Audrey about not pursuing the Pet Sounds performance project because of the friction within the band. He preferred to protect his close relationship with Carl Wilson who had told him at the beginning that it would not be an easy task and it was all Mathews' to do.
In appreciation for Mathews' work, the Wilson brothers and The Beach Boys' manager had RIAA white matte gold and platinum records sent to Mathews upon settling their decades-long lawsuit with Capitol Records (who had previously refused to acknowledge the album's sales numbers). Aside from the principle members of the band and management, Mathews is the only person to receive these official awards. The tour finally tookflight when Brian Wilson performed solo with his band on a world tour of Pet Sounds to huge critical and public acclaim, and made the Grammy Award-winning Pet Sounds Live (earning another gold record for Wilson and Mathews) 20 years later.
In the beginning of the 1980s, Mathews and Nagle officially founded their private recording studio inside their vast compound on the top of Bernal Heights in San Francisco, called The Pig Pen. One of Mathews' and Nagle's first recordings in the new studio was sound design for the Universal Pictures film Cat People, on which Mathews also performed vocals on the title song by David Bowie which spawned the hit single "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)".
Bowie went on to rerecord the song, which was released as the B-side for what would become his first worldwide #1 single and his most successful single, "Let's Dance". The song was used as the title of Bowie's next album, which became his biggest selling release of all-time, with more than eleven million units sold.
Inside and outside of The Pen, Mathews performed with and/or produced for artists such as: George Harrison, Elvis Costello, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Steve Miller, B.B. King, Todd Rundgren, Boz Scaggs, John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Sammy Hagar, Gary Brooker, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Dick Dale.
In 1983, Mathews co-produced and performed multiple instruments on Hiatt's Riding with the King. During the making of the album (made at The Pen), Hiatt was staying at Mathews' house next door and one morning Mathews recounted a strange dream about flying in an old plane with Elvis Presley but not being able to see his face because of the light reflecting off The King's rhinestones and gold rings. Hiatt wrote all the imagery down and the title song was born, later to become a huge international smash hit by Clapton and B.B. King.
Mathews produced the only recorded pairing of Elvis Costello and Jerry Garcia on "Sweetwater" in 1989, although its release was held up until 1995.
Also in 1989, Mathews recorded and toured the world with Todd Rundgren. Mathews worked closely with Rundgren on recording Nearly Human and for the tours, Rundgren had a U-shaped stage built for Mathews so he could perform all forms of percussion, keyboards, guitar (on tour, Mathews usually used Clapton's famous psychedelic painted Gibson SG, The Fool, which Clapton used for most of his work in Cream) as well as being a featured vocalist.
Unable to do studio work until the Rundgren tour ended, Mathews assisted Jack Nitzsche in assembling an eclectic supergroup to record the soundtrack for the Dennis Hopper directed film The Hot Spot. The lineup included Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Earl Palmer and Roy Rogers (who filled in for Nitzsche's first call, Ry Cooder, who was not available). During each session, Nitzsche contacted Mathews by phone to play different takes.
Mathews and Nagle co-wrote the 1990 Dave Edmunds worldwide hit and album title song, "Closer to the Flame". In the same year, Chuck Prophet asked Mathews to produce his debut record, Brother Aldo. Mathews performed many different instruments on the record and Prophet found success as one of the first emerging artist signings and the two combined forces for a Jimi Hendrix tribute album, "If 6 Was 9."
Following that, Mathews produced John Wesley Harding's "Why We Fight" for Sire Records, made 2nd Wind with Todd Rundgren and did a world tour in support of the release. Upon ending the tour in Osaka, Japan, Mathews was invited by Huey Lewis and the News to join their tour as a 'special guest' on a song the band performed that he and Nagle had written. The year ended with Mathews recording yet another John Lee Hooker bestseller, Mr. Lucky that featured Keith Richards, Carlos Santana and Ry Cooder, Van Morrison and many other greats.
In 1991, Mathews moved to Marin County and founded Hit or Myth Productions, Inc. Using his vast experience from the corporate music industry and his wont to escape it before it collapsed, he began his own independent dream job, and under Hit or Myth Productions, Mathews hired his own A&R staff for recruiting primarily emerging artists and bought a split level house in Mill Valley, CA on the edge of San Francisco Bay which became his ideal private recording studio, TikiTown. The studio, named for the enormous Tiki statues that surround it, was custom-built on the philosophy of intimacy, comfort and to not feeling like a recording studio. Mathews said he felt he had lived half of his life 'in caves' so TikiTown features sweeping views of the bay, providing artists with a 'bubble' environment to focus on their music without any disturbance or interaction from anyone. Van Morrison was one of the first artists Mathews brought into the studio and he loved it so much he set up an entire large room as a gym so he could work out while there. TikiTown is also renowned for its museum level quality of music memorabilia and ultra rare Hall of Fame type pieces.
In 1992, Mathews produced Trip Shakespeare for A&M Records. The band imploded soon after and became the Dan Wilson led Semisonic. In the same year, Mathews did John Lee Hooker's album "Boom Boom", the title song of which was originally a hit in 1962 and again thirty years later from their remade version.
In 1993 Mathews and music journalist Joel Selvin met with Dick Dale in Twentynine Palms, CA. Their meeting convinced Dale to come out of retirement and record with Mathews. Dale experienced a renewed interest in his music and earned the #1 college radio record for his Tribal Thunder comeback LP. Also in that year, Mathews wrote the hit title song for Dave Edmunds' Closer to the Flame album on Capitol Records. He continued to produce a variety of emerging artists such as "The Loved Ones", The Bobs and John Wesley Harding as well as seasoned artists such as The Rubinoos, blues virtuoso, Roy Rogers and performed and sang on the platinum Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys. He produced and performed on Just Say Roe, a 1994 benefit pro-choice release on Sire Records that featured Madonna, David Byrne, and more. He also produced and performed on Dick Dale's "Unknown Territory" and wrote NRBQ's single off the "Message from the Mess Age" LP on Sire Records.
1995 brought the release of the legendary Elvis Costello and Jerry Garcia live album Mathews produced, "Sweetwater" on which he performed along with featured guests; Nick Lowe, Bob Weir, Sammy Hagar, James Burton and Elvis Presley's rhythm section. Also that year, he made "Chill Out" by John Lee Hooker featuring Carlos Santana, a Hawaiian crossover LP with Kapono Beamer and to balance things out, he produced "Bugs & Friends Sing: The Beatles, a successful blend of the Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes cartoon characters 'singing' classic Beatles songs for Rhino Records / Wea.
In 1996, while producing and writing with Booker T. Jones, he met engineer Tom Luekens, who remains Mathews' chief engineer today. He also wrote songs with his writing partner, Al Anderson (NRBQ) for a solo record, had a song on The Tubes' Goin' Down the Tubes for A&M Records, produced Dick Dale for the huge Cowabunga! The Surf Box from Rhino / Wea as well as producing Dale on another LP, Calling Up Spirits, performed on Blue Gold with Taj Mahal (musician) and JJ Cale and provided photography for The Vandals, Oi to the World. In 1997, Mathews collaborated with Huey Lewis to write and produce songs for the soundtrack of the Oscar Award nominated film, Wag the Dog featuring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. He also performed as an artist with Philip Aaberg on a Brian Wilson medley for Summer Solstice: A Windham Hill Collection released by BMG and produced the Dick Dale Box Set, Better Shred than Dead.
His productions and performances appeared in 1998 on The Best of John Hiatt project for Capitol Records and The Best of Friends by John Lee Hooker with, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Nick Lowe, Los Lobos, Ben Harper, Ry Cooder, Ike Turner and a plethora of other major guests. Mathews also discovered and produced two brilliant but overlooked LPs for the Virgin-Whore Complex, a studio band fronted by recluse Peter Getty, (J. Paul Getty's grandson and son of Gordon Getty), another by singer/songwriter, Jim Greer and one by the band Zircus.
In 1998 Mathews collaborated on songs for The Rubinoos, and Tommy Castro while also performing in the studio and one a U.S. tour with The Grateful Dead keyboardist, Vince Welnick in Missing Man Formation, named for the loss of Jerry Garcia. That same year, he worked with John Lee Hooker and John Hammond Jr. on Fish-Tree-Water Blues, a project that also featured Etta James, Mavis Staples, Branford Marsalis, Keb' Mo' and other greats.
Finishing out the decade, he produced more emerging artists and contributed a track as Durocs to More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album that featured Robert Plant, Beck, Tom Waits, Mudhoney and many other Spence disciples. He also performed multi-instruments and vocals on Todd Rundgren's Live in Chicago and provided songwriting for Dave Edmunds' King Biscuit Flower Hour.
In 2000, The Beach Boys released Keepin' the Summer Alive / Beach Boys and Greatest Hits, Vol 3, and both featured Mathews as a guest artist on vocals and drums. A&M put out "20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Tubes" that featured two Mathews/Nagle songs and Tommy Castro released "Live at the Fillmore" with a song Mathews penned. One of standout productions Mathews' helmed that year was "The Hurting Business" by Chuck Prophet.
2001 was a big year for producing several emerging artists at TikiTown, but Mathews also produced "Ridin' Mighty High" for R&B legend, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, who co-wrote and arranged many of classic James Brown hits of the 1960s. Following that he produced, performed and wrote songs for one of the original electric blues greats, Guitar Shorty. Shorty is known for his work with Ray Charles, Willie Dixon, Guitar Slim, and Sam Cooke but is best known as the tutor and major inspiration to his half-brother in-law, Jimi Hendrix who studied Shorty's explosive guitar solos and wild stage antics while learning guitar in Seattle, Washington. In the same year, John Hiatt and Rosanne Cash released Mathews' production of The Way We Make a Broken Heart, a Hiatt written song that Mathews arranged and performed all the instruments on. When Geffen Records didn't release it as a single after it was originally cut in the 1980s, Cash re-recorded it with the same arrangement Mathews created, resulting in a #1 country hit in 1987. Three more Mathews produced songs were included in this Hiatt set.
In 2002, Mathews was a featured performer on "20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Elvin Bishop". Following that was "The Final Recordings, Vol 1: Face to Face" a collection of John Lee Hooker's unreleased songs from his very last studio recordings. Mathews performed with Van Morrison and Hooker as well as on many cuts with just Hooker himself. Dave Edmunds released Mathews' material on his 'best of' set, "Sabre Dance' that contained material all the way back to his 1960s Welsh band, Love Sculpture.
In 2003, another multi-Grammy Award release was Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey, the soundtrack to the Scorsese PBS documentary series, The Blues and reached #2 on Billboard chart. Regarded as the most comprehensive blues set, it traced the roots of the music from 1920 – 2003 and stands as one Mathews' favorite projects to perform on. Mathews appears with Bonnie Raitt and John Lee Hooker.
In 2004 Mathews co-produced a "Roy Tyler" album, "Three Way Calling" and joined forces with Raphael Saadiq. He also discovered, signed and produced a fun and reckless band just out of High School called Rock n Roll Soldiers and got them a recording deal with Atlantic Records. Recordings Mathews had made in 1981 as part of the main personnel with Roky Erickson for his classic, cult-favorite album, "The Evil One", were re-released to huge acclaim on "I Have Always Been Here Before: The Roky Erickson Anthology," a two-CD set that featured his original band, 13th Floor Elevators on one disc and the near frightening material that Mathews worked on the other disc.
In 2006, Mathews joined the original members of the band The Sandals for a 30-year reunion concert. That year, Mathews' growing interest and knowledge in music-tech coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit led to founding a music-tech company with TPG co-founder, William S. Price, which signed and produced an album with an Australian band (that soon broke up) to attempt to build a new, modern 'artist's rights friendly' model of record company while exploring many different approaches to new music business practices.
While CEO of the new venture, Mathews turned the TikiTown compound into corporate headquarters, worked closely with major management teams of such artists as Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Live Nation and devoted nearly two full years to the effort before the two co-founders decided as a result of the ever slow moving music industry, it was no longer their passion to pursue the cause any further. Mathews' work continued being released during his hiatus from recording, such as "American Music: The Hightone Records Story l Box Set that he produced for featuring Robert Cray, Dick Dale and others,
"Gold" by John Lee Hooker that showcased more of Mathews' work with Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison and Booker T. Jones among others and 'best of' packages by The Rubinoos, Roy Rogers, Labelle and a previously unreleased song with Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker called (curiously), "Don't Look Back" on Hooker's "Anthology:50 Years"
On January 28, 2007, upon request by Brian Wilson, Mathews performed vocals with Wilson and Al Jardine at the final Pet Sounds live performance at the Paramount Theater in Oakland.
Following the Brian Wilson show, Mathews and Jardine began performing together for fun and Mathews helped Jardine finish his debut solo record that had been off and on since the 1980s. Mathews introduced Steve Miller who recorded a track with Jardine and before it was over, Neil Young, Glen Campbell, America, Flea, Stephen Stills, David Crosby and many all contributed to "A Postcard From California."
In 2010, Mathews began dedicating more time to his favorite non-profit causes and was chosen to serve on the Gladstone Institutes' President's Council Committee. Mathews works closely with President R. Sanders Williams and is an ambassador in the world to raise awareness of Gladstone's work in the area of inspired science that impacts people's lives.
In December 2011, Mathews signed on as executive producer with the Hong Kong-based, Far West Entertainment. Less than two months after, Mathews produced the #1 Billboard track "Dance On" with Pan Asian girl group Blush. Quincy Jones signed on for management of the band and declared at the 2013 Grammy Awards, "they are the next big thing."
On January 1, 2012, Mathews' vocals, guitar, keyboards, sampling and percussion work with Todd Rundgren was released on "A Capella/Nearly Human/2nd Wind on Edsel Records.
On May 22, after nearly a year in negotiations with Capitol Records, Real Gone Music released the original Dūrocs record on CD and downloads. The Durocs negotiated for a limited edition vinyl series to be released exactly 33 1/3 years (representing the RPMs of an album) after the original record. Along with the original LP are eight previously unheard Dūrocs 'bone-us' tracks, all recorded shortly after the Capitol release. Worldwide reviews upon this re-release read; 'one of rock's lost masterpieces', 'a thrilling discovery – doesn't sound dated a bit', ' a lost gem – totally devastating catchy tunes', 'the hallmark of quality music' and has prompted more Durocs recordings to be prepared for release.
That year, Mathews chose to sit out on The Beach Boys major 50th Anniversary Celebration Reunion which involved a new album and world tour but did provide consultation during rehearsals. After all was going well in rehearsals, it was Mathews that urged the band (through Jardine) to get out and play some intimate shows with a live audience to see how the band reacted. The results were great and the tour went well with sold out shows all over the world.
In January 2013, Mathews began writing with Sammy Hagar and producing him at TikiTown on a new style of music for The Red Rocker. The new direction sounds like Sammy is today and conveys a laid back island vibe compared to his hard rocking metal days. Mathews describes it as "more rum, less tequila."
In February, Mathews journeyed to Melbourne to conduct 'The Artist's MasterClass', a custom, hands on education program developed by John Tomaino and Mathews for emerging Australian recording artists. The program was hugely successful as they held MasterClasses in a huge beach house on the weekends and recorded with the artists in a Melbourne studio during the week days. Mathews spent one month in Australia and developed a stable of artists that continues to grow for more MasterClasses and sessions to be held.
While in Melbourne, Mathews received word his executive production work regarding publishing for Brian Wilson's co-writer, Van Dyke Parks (Mathews' longtime friend and collaborator) on The Smile Sessions by The Beach Boys helped earn the Best Historical Album at the 55th Grammy Awards. Ron Nagle and Mathews continued writing music and recording together at TikiTown on a semi-regular basis for future releases and music licensing purposes. They amassed nearly sixty songs since 2000 and combined them with their vast publishing catalogs of several hundred titles for placement use in motion picture and television projects.
On August 27, The Beach Boys released their 50th anniversary celebration with a six-CD collection of songs spanning the decades and features songs containing Mathews' musical and vocal contributions. "Made in California", on Capitol Records featured single is a previously unreleased Mike Love song that Mathews and Carl Wilson arranged and recorded the basic tracks for called "Goin' to the Beach".
On September 26, Rolling Stone Magazine gave 'four stars' and a glowing review to Roky Erickson for 'The Evil One' re-issue featuring Mathews' musicianship and musical arrangements. Senior music critic, David Fricke stating it brought; "surging glow – a most welcome spirit." Mathews returned to Melbourne for another series of recording sessions with emerging talent from Australia while TikiTown underwent major remodeling and updates.
On its first week of release, Sammy Hagar's 'Friends' project debuted at #23 on the Billboard 200 chart. Mathews wrote material and played a plethora of instruments on the recordings with Hagar at TikiTown.
On January 24, 2014, Mathews helped arrange for his longtime friend, Hal Blaine to be inducted at the 29th annual TEC Awards Hall of Fame at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. The evening also provided for a reunion with Todd Rundgren who won the Les Paul Award for his musical innovation. While in Los Angeles, he received several more platinum and gold records for his contributions to various 'Best of' and 'Anthology' releases by David Bowie, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys and others.
Mathews' music productions at Tikitown lessened while his entrepreneurial work in music-tech ramped up. By March, he relocated operations to Beverly Hills, CA as he signed on as Chief Creative Director of proTunes, a start-up company originally developed in Ireland.
On May 15, Mathews broke his own rule of not performing outside of the recording studio and co-headlined an all-acoustic, live benefit performance at The Fillmore with friends, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, James Hetfield of Metallica, Pat Monahan of Train, Sammy Hagar, Nancy Wilson of the band Heart and Joe Satriani and others.
Afterwards, Mathews was quoted; "It was huge fun to get out and play with some of my pals for a great cause and finally get my name slapped up on a Fillmore poster."
On October 19, Mathews was honored with a Milley Award, a local Bay Area award for 'recognition and appreciation for his outstanding achievement in performing, creating and demonstrating his significant body of work, service to the arts community and artistic vision, diligence and perseverance.' In his speech upon receiving the award, he spoke; "It has been at least a couple lifetime's of great fortune and I'm most grateful for it. I have been able to live quite comfortably in the Bay Area, hermetically sealed in the recording studio, creating new music rather than re-creating it on stage and living the life of a carny. But I don't think the past can possibly provide what the future promises and deeply feel my best work is ahead of me. The rear-view mirror is so much smaller than the windshield."
On March 16, 2015 Little Kids Rock]] named Mathews as Chairman of San Francisco Bay Area Council after several years of his support of the organization.“
Under Mathews' guidance and leadership, Little Kids Rock's Bay Area Council raised more than $360,000 in 2015 to go toward instrument donations, curriculum development, and other resources that will directly impact the lives of 6,572 students in 97 local schools who are currently running Little Kids Rock's free program, also funding training and donations for 50 new teachers to launch Little Kids Rock's music program in their schools, enriching the lives of 3,240 additional students. By the end of 2015, Little Kids Rock unlocked a total of 9,812 students' inner music makers in 147 schools.