K.C. Mathieu is known as the resident painter at Gas Monkey Garage, on the successful Discovery Channel Reality styled TV show, Fast ‘N Loud, but we wanted to find out a bit more about the man whose work has been recognized by many nationally known car enthusiasts and Barnett’s magazine. I caught up with K.C. by phone and had a chat with him.
TM: Good afternoon, K.C., thanks so much for taking the time to chat to Torqued Magazine today.
KC: Hi Neil, thanks for calling, sorry I was in a meeting when you called earlier, things are a bit crazy right now.
No problem, K.C. I am glad we have a chance to chat for a short while. Everyone knows you from Fast ‘N Loud, but I want to find out a bit more about you and what makes you tick, who K.C. Mathieu is. If you had to introduce yourself to a total stranger who has never seen Fast ‘N Loud, or really has no interest in cars, what would you tell them?
Mmm, I would tell them that I am an automotive spray painter, a regular guy that loves restoring cars and painting them. I am a family man, with a wife and 2 children, who owns a business, works for another and is a big car enthusiast.
Everyone calls you K.C. which must be pretty confusing at home, as your wife is Kasey, but what does K.C. actually stand for?
Yes, it can get a bit confusing sometimes. (chuckles). It stands for Kenneth Conrad. Actually, I am a junior, Kenneth is my father’s name also. We had the same confusion when I was growing up and everyone started calling me K.C. so we would know who they wanted.
Your Dad owns a paint and body shop, where you did your first ever paint job, which he said was ‘pretty well done”. Does he think that these days your paint jobs are a bit better than that?
Yes, I was around 12 at the time, I am not sure how good that paint job really was, but I’ll take it. My Dad is a collision guy as opposed to me who is a restoration guy and our way of doing paint jobs are different, the standards of work we expect are different. I am very critical of my own work, I will see the tiniest flaw when everyone tells me the job is perfect, but I will not rest until I am happy. I am always looking to improve and for my work to be better and better. I guess he thinks my paintjobs are a bit better than “pretty good” these days, though.
I watched a video clip the other day where you were answering a few questions from Fast ‘N Loud fans and you mentioned that “Frankenstein” was your daily drive, is that still the case?
Absolutely!!! I can’t live without that truck, a 1968 Ford F100 that was originally built for the show and I was lucky enough to buy back. I replaced the motor a while back and had it up to 700 HP, now I have it back in the shop for another motor, we are going to get it up to 900 this time. My buddy and I are always in competition, he makes his car a bit faster and beats me by a few yards on the track, so I make mine a bit faster and beat him, then he has to make his car a bit quicker and so it goes. Now it’s Frankenstein’s turn to get a bit faster.
What do your parents think about the fame that has come along with being with Gas Monkey?
They are super proud of me, they get excited every time I am on TV, they talk about the show all of the time and will always introduce me to new people as being from Fast ‘N Loud.
You love restoring cars and running your shop and I know you can’t wait to get back to doing that full time; when is that going to happen?
Very soon. I am trying to pull away from the show and get back to the shop and to spend more time with my wife and kids. I have loved being on the show, but I missed a lot of my kids’ growing up because of it and it is now time to move on from it. You know when you have done as much as you can with something and that is pretty much where I am now.
What do you watch on TV when you get the chance?
I watch TV with the kids, never watch Fast “N loud, I watch what the kids want to watch and even when I get the chance to watch TV on my own, I watch a lot of kids TV, as crazy as that sounds.
I know you have a very busy schedule, but what do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I spend as much time as I can with the family, I go to movies, love driving cars at the track and I take the kids to hang at the shops. I am looking at opening a performance shop; I love getting the best out of a motor that I can, but not with 110 octane fuel and all that goes with that, but rather taking a stock engine and enhancing what it is, making it better while making it more modern and efficient with the gas it uses. Performance interests me a great deal. I have a great relationship with Roush Performance and would love to do something with them. I was looking at a new building when you called earlier, so that is why I couldn’t chat right away.
Here’s a bit of a curved ball for you; what is your favorite color? I know that Frankenstein is green and you spray a lot of other cars green, but is it your favorite?
No, blue is my favorite color, green is Richard’s. He hates blue and loves green, he never wants me painting anything blue. When we did the Shorty VW Bus, I asked him what color he wanted it and he told me “anything but blue”, so blue is what he got! I am definitely a blue guy.
Do you ever take your cap off in public?
I never really thought about that, but no, not really. It’s crazy, but I always have one on in the spray booth, it’s like having a mask on in there, so it has become a part of me, I guess I hardly ever take it off and pretty much wear one all of the time.
What would you say is the key to a successful paint job, without giving away your secrets?
Preparation, I have to say definitely preparation. If the prep is bad, no matter how good you are with a spray gun, the job will always turn out bad. My guy Keenan who does all of the prep for me on the show, is a master at what he does, he knows exactly what I want and gives me a great prep time after time. That makes my job so much easier.
If you were not an auto painter, what would be the job you would most like to do; your dream job?
I never thought about that, that’s a difficult question, but I think it would have to be, mmm, working for Ford or Chevy, or Dodge, someone like that, driving cars and trucks on the proving grounds, just driving them all out for hours on end, beating the hell out of them to see how much they could take. That would be a great job, the time would just fly by. I would be enjoying myself so much.
Which painters do you admire, if any?
Charley Hutton. When I was a kid I used to watch him all the time on American Hotrod with Boyd Coddington. He is a family guy, really cool, he does great work and I grew up wanting to be like him.
Finally, K.C. if you could drive any car out there, what would be your dream ride?
I would have to say the R8 Audi, I have always wanted to drive one and I would jump at the chance. I have driven a lot of cars on the track, most Mustangs, Dodges, Camaros and so on, but my favorite so far has been the Nissan GTR, that really was the best car I ever drove on the track. The ultimate though is still to drive that R8, it is my dream and one day, I will definitely make that happen.
Thanks so much for your time K.C. and good luck with your plans for the future.
K.C.’s website, although he admits to needing to update it, can be found at www.kcspaintshop.com