Soldiering on: MTV VJ Matt Pinfield opens up about near-fatal accident, song the Killers wrote for him

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Matt Pinfield after his accident in December 2018. (Photo: Consequence of Sound)
Matt Pinfield after his accident in December 2018. (Photo: Consequence of Sound)

On Dec. 3, MTV 120 Minutes VJ Matt Pinfield was crossing the street near his Hollywood home when he was struck by a car going 40 miles an hour. Though he tried to jump out of the way, he ended up sustaining grievous injuries. First, he broke his leg in two places (“The bone came out of the flesh down there; it looked like a pretzel,” he recalls), then he split his head open all the way to the skull after hitting the windshield headfirst and whacking his head a second time on the pavement.

“[Doctors] told me I was so blessed and lucky to be alive, because most people would not have survived it,” Pinfield tells Yahoo Entertainment and SiriusXM’s Volume West.

Pinfield spent a week in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, and he’s currently undergoing physical therapy and using a walker. But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion for seeing live music. This week, while attending the iHeartRadio ALTer Ego 2019 festival at the Forum (whose staff Pinfield praises for helping him get to the ADA section with a wheelchair and taking good care of him), his old friends the Killers gave him a shoutout while introducing “All These Things That I’ve Done.” It was a feel-good moment, for sure, but few fans in the crowd knew the deep connection Pinfield has with the Hot Fuss classic. Not only did Pinfield title his memoir All These Things That I’ve Done: My Insane, Improbable Rock Life, but the Killers actually wrote the song about Pinfield.

Years ago, before the Killers were famous (frontman Brandon Flowers was still holding down a day job as a Las Vegas bellboy), Pinfield, who was a vice president of A&R at Columbia Records at the time, tried to sign the promising young band. He was also working with the U.S. Army as part of a program that mentored wounded and/or PTSD-stricken musician soldiers returning from Iraq — and after visiting those veterans in Colorado City, Colo., he swung through Las Vegas, where he and the Killers quickly bonded.

“I watched them rehearse in their drummer Ronnie Vannucci’s garage — they were playing in his parents’ garage!” Pinfield says, laughing. “I took them out to dinner, and later on, I was going, ‘Hey, anybody want to give me a ride back to my hotel?’” Flowers subsequently offered to drive Pinfield, and the two cruised the Strip singing along to the Beatles’ Help!. They ultimately wound up hitting the bar at the Las Vegas Hilton on a low-key Tuesday night, just “talking about life.”

“I started to tell him the story about mentoring soldiers, and I was getting ready to go through a divorce. I was going through a bit of a rough time,” Pinfield says. “So, he went home that night, and their old manager, Braden Merrick, calls me on the phone, and goes, ‘Hey Matt, Brandon wrote a song about you. He went home last night and wrote this song.’ It was ‘All These Things That I’ve Done,’ and the line ‘I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier’ is about the mentoring thing.”

So, it was a full-circle moment this week for Pinfield that — after helping injured people and bonding with Flowers so many years ago — the Killers helped him celebrate his own physical recovery. “It was beautiful. It was such a beautiful moment. I told Brandon backstage that I was just so moved by that and I thought it was absolutely amazing,” Pinfield says. “It was so cool when he dedicated the song to me at the Forum the other night. I saw him right before, and then they had me showing them pictures of my wounds.”

Speaking of wounds, Pinfield’s forehead scar is healing nicely — “An inch lower, and I could have lost an eye; I was very, very blessed,” he says — and Pinfield gives all the credit to his head surgeon, who apparently is a 120 Minutes buff. “They brought me to the Trauma Center at Cedars-Sinai … I heard someone say to [the surgeon], ‘Do you want to just staple him?’ And he goes, ‘No, no. This guy’s a VIP. I watched him on TV as a kid,’” Pinfield says, chuckling. “He was a fan! So, he sewed it up slowly, which accounts for the fact that it’s a pretty good-looking scar.”

Full audio of this conversation is available on demand via the SiriusXM app, on Volume channel 106.

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