DFW Music News

After Traumatic Brain Injury, Dallas Distortion Music Co-Founder Is Helping Others Recover

Since he relearned to walk, Matthew Vickers has enjoyed making regular trips to Good Records to pick up cassettes.
Since he relearned to walk, Matthew Vickers has enjoyed making regular trips to Good Records to pick up cassettes. via Matthew Vickers on Facebook
In March 2014, Mathew Vickers flipped his Scion four times and was ejected from the vehicle. He was leaving his parents' home but has no recollection of where he was headed since he says he was both drunk and high. One month later he awoke from a coma with a reconstructed pelvis and a traumatic brain injury.

“I had to learn how to eat, swallow, sit and talk,” Vickers says. “I was given a 10 percent chance to live and if I did survive I'd most likely be a vegetable and need assistance for the rest of my life. When I was stable enough I started rehabilitation.”

Before the accident, Vickers helped launch the North Texas-based cassette label Dallas Distortion Music with co-founder Evan Henry.

“He approached me to join his burgeoning label and I accepted wholeheartedly,” Vickers says. “We started booking shows with local acts and as time progressed we started booking touring acts. We began releasing cassettes and booking local festivals as well."

In 2014, Dallas Distortion Music won a Dallas Observer music award for Best Record Label, and they've gone on to be nominated three more times.

Three years after the accident, Vickers is still living an alcohol- and drug-free life.

“When you cheat death your outlook is forever altered,” he says. “I don't take relationships for granted as I used to. In relearning life I have changed my perception of who I am and how I feel about people. I am a different Matt.”

For those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), recovery is often a life-long journey filled with plateaus and fear of regression. And unfortunately, Vickers says he will never fully recover.

“My recovery didn't come overnight,” he says. “It was regained in very incremental amounts. Having to relearn everything we as individuals take for granted has a way of humbling you. The steps I have taken in my rehabilitation could not have been so productive without the strength, determination and perseverance I found somehow within myself. I am only as good as those that have taught me to strive for a better tomorrow, and my family for their constant belief in me.”

Vickers also thanks the local music community for their support, by way of benefit shows and shout-outs in album sleeves.

 “[I'm thankful to everyone] from Chris Penn for making Good Records accessible to me when I want to pick up some cassettes, to Jamie Knight of the Bryan Blue Show for helping me book my first show after my accident for my music Facebook page, Black Cat Music,” he says.

Along the winding road to recovery, Vickers decided to shift his focus toward helping others with traumatic brain injuries, which is why he started TBI United, an online support group of sorts. The Facebook page features personal stories and links to articles covering topics ranging from parenting with mobile disabilities to sexuality after a traumatic brain injury.

“I started TBI United as an outlet for my experience and to benefit others experiencing a similar situation,” he says. “I have found such support through online groups that I felt it a responsibility to give back. I have not tired in my enthusiasm to educate. My purpose is to inform, educate and enlighten. If I can touch one person who is affected, my goal has been reached.”
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Mollie Jamison is a freelance writer covering music and culture for the Dallas Observer. She studied journalism and political science at the University of North Texas. In her free time, you'll find her at contemporary art museums and karaoke joints.