While browsing the web searching for information about Chris Bathgate in order to write a decent introduction, I’ve been teasing by the frequency of the name : Matt Jones. Curiosity once again won ! After crawling under many pages about a homonym sportsman, i’ve finally loaded Matt Jones’s myspace page, labeled as indie, acoustic, folk…
Some rare singers have the gift to captivate at first notes, this is Matt Jone’s case. But this initial attraction is progressively converted into a complete addiction as Matt is offering more than just a great songwriting ability. His unique voice – which could sometimes could be compared to Tom Brosseau – is a perfect match on his rich acoustic concept.
Thanks Matt for taking time to answers these questions:
YCD : Singer, drummer, guitarist, pianist… Could you please tell us your story with the music ?
Matt : I started piano training at age 8, and continued for the next 12 years. I hated classical music, and the day I was planning on telling my piano teacher that I was quitting, she gave me a book of Scott Joplin’s piano rags. I fell in love and began playing, and listening to all the ragtime I could get my hands on. From there, I started playing the euphonium in school (my mother’s side of the family consists of many circus musicians, most of whom played the euphonium under the big top), switched to tuba, then switched to skateboarding, and guitar. I don’t know where the drums came in. I was a lefty drummer for a while just because I didnt know how to set up the kit. I’m really not very good on drums- I just bang shit really hard and try to catch vibes. every act that requests my drumming, I feel sorry for. But I also feel like I must really be a great actor. I played electric guitar for a while in my jam-band phase (I’m pretty sure everyone has one), and pared it down to acoustic when I realized I couldn’t control everyone in a band. playing by myself was easier on my control issues.
YCD : What did you grow up listening to ?
Matt : I was a pretty serious nerd growing up, without any real exposure to pop music till high school. I skimmed over a lot of jazz, but always had a ragtime cassette somewhere nearby.
YCD : Is there a song that you’re proud to have written?
Matt : I have probably been proud of all of them at one point or another. ‘Vampires’ is a favorite of mine, as is ‘Right To Arms’. the song i’ll probably never take out of the rotation though is ‘Earthbound’ (the secret song on the ep). The words were written by the poet Suzanne Hancock, a friend of mine. While some might flunk me for effort, I would state hands down that writing music for someone else’s words in infinitely harder than for your own.
YCD : Is there a song you wish you had written ?
Matt : “Rita Mae” by Misty Lyn. Elliott Smith’s “Coast to Coast”. Great Lakes Myth Society’s “Big Jim Hawkins”. Richard Buckner’s “Oscar Hummel” anything by Tom Turpin.
YCD : What’s your favourite thing about performing live?
Matt : it’s definitely not getting paid. I think its walking in to the club early, even before the sound person shows up. taking stock of the place you are going to be for the next 5 hours. If you play a lot of these shows, you realize that those smoked-out, loud, stinky rooms are the places you choose to pour yourself out to other people. To people you dont even know! Sometimes its ironic to the point of paralysis. So I like to get there early, just to walk around by myself, and get a look at the character of the place before I have to be nervous, and small-talkey with the people who are going to fill it up. I also like playing live because I’m huge and for at least a few minutes, any audience will pay attention to the huge guy on stage, dwarfing his guitar till it looks like a ukelele.
YCD : Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Matt : I don’t even want to speculate.
YCD : What’s on your stereo at the moment ?
Matt : Great Lakes Myth Society s/t; Magnolia Electric Company boxed set; Pet Shop Boys; Nina Nastasia’s the blackened air.
YCD : Is there any way to buy your first EP : ‘Right to Arms’ ?
Matt : Local record shops have it. You can get it at live shows, and rumor has it that you can actually buy it at www.cassanovatemptations.com
YCD : Susan from Fox on the Hill, told me that your first full length is plan to be released by the end of the year ?
Matt : Truth. Many tracks need only mixing. Others need much more. Its my first experience in a real recording studio (Jim Roll‘s Backseat Productions) and it has been wonderful, frustrating, and terrifying. im shooting for some pretty big arrangements, so it has taken a little longer than anyone expected.
It’s time to give him voice with the first following track entitled ‘Right to Arms‘ – from his debut EP released in 2005. The second one called ‘Nothing Joyful‘ is a live performance recorded this last winter at Keweenawesomefest – Houghton, Michigan. This complete set is available on the WTMU website and it’s a higly recommendation.
This second post about Michigan scene won’t be the last. The Ann Harbour folk scene is abounding in talents and my curiosity has been rewarded more than once ! Misty Lyn will be our next stop.