Matt Wertz Interview #2
November 6, 2006 in Malibu, CA
First off, this interview follows up on some of the questions I got to ask Matt earlier this year and you can read those here. Second, I have to appologize it took me this long to post this interview, but here it is! Questions are in bold, Matt’s responses are in normal type.
First things first, who are you?
My name is Matt Wertz, I’m a pop star…an aspiring pop star from Nashville, TN.
Since I talked to you last June a lot has happened with you and your music. “Everything In Between” was released online- how has that been going?
It’s been I great! It’s kind of hard to know what to compare it to, and I think with anticipating the retail release that’s going to happen in early February I just don’t know what to expect. I’m definitely excited to see how the retail release looks cause I’ve never had that before.
How is your relationship with Nettwerk going? The idea you voiced for your own label being distributed through them, how has that been coming along?
That’s exactly what’s happening. They are totally creative and competent when it comes to marketing and getting the word out. I think I will be the first artist that they will be releasing from scratch without having a major label that once backed them. I think everyone is anxious to see how it works. My expectations are based on what I’ve been able to do independently and I know we will at least be able to meet or exceed those. I think having an online outlet for this record has been really helpful. It’s interesting to see how much of a presence the online distribution has taken over since I released 23 Places in 2003. This is a whole new deal.
Everything In Between. I have to first say it is one of my favorite records this year, but I’m curious, some of the songs are quite different from your past releases. Can you tell me what brought this new flare into your music?
I think I wanted to do a record that was very groove heavy that was centered on melody and groove kind of playing with each other. The first song that was written for the record was Like The Last Time and that song was like the bridge to some of the newer songs like The Way I Feel. There are songs that are more straight forward like Carolina that could’ve been on my last record. The beauty about this record is that it was recorded over a year and a half and the songs were written over a period of three years. You get a pretty wide variety of styles in the songs that I don’t know that you got as much on 23 Places. 23 Places varied more in the subject matter, this record follows a relational pattern.
The approach you took to recording the record- the fusion of two separate sessions, can you explain that?
We set out and started approaching the record like we did 23 Places. Ed, my producer, Dave Barnes and I would get together and demo songs. We would put down synthetic instruments and use computer sounds and I’d put down the acoustic parts. If any of us felt an electric part, we’d put that down. It was like we were making rough drafts of the songs. It allowed us to go crazy and put down whatever we heard. We went to the extreme of ideas. As we shared them, we realized we had to limit ourselves to a smaller pallet of sounds and instruments to define the sound of the record.
A lot of this demo-ing took place in the spring and in late July we booked a band for a week and we tracked with them. At that time I was shopping around to a few different labels and we got into this place that I was trying to please them before we were even working together. I felt like I was trying to please everybody. We ended up taking another stab at some of the other songs and by that time I had written some more. We went in as a live band and I brought in Justin Rosolino to play guitar and everything was happening at once. That jacked up the energy level, but from a hook standpoint we lost it, there wasn’t as much thought or planning going into the tracking sessions. We basically melted the two together. That’s kind of the best of both worlds, I really like the hooks and that’s what keeps people listening.
I saw you perform 5:19 on a news show in Boston, do you have any plans to release anything acoustically?
Well, this show tonight is just Justin and I. I always try to do a band tour and then an acoustic duo tour just to keep things fresh. A lot of times as an opener it isn’t feasible to bring a band out financially and logistically. It works great that I can do the songs acoustically and a lot of times people want to hear them like that. It’s a fun break from the norm and I enjoy both.
You’ve put out 3 full-lengths and an EP already, a feat most musicians never see, how do you feel about the music industry now that you’ve been fully exposed?
It’s weird, I feel like I’m always riding under the radar. Sometimes I’m bitter about that cause I’m working really hard but sometimes I’m really thankful. When a lot of my friends who sign to labels are getting dropped, I’m really thankful that I’m able to have a career without the help of a label. When I have friends who sign to a label and seven months later are playing for a thousand people, I realize it’s not possible to do that by yourself. You have to have a machine behind you. I really have been able to stay out of it and I’m not bitter or disillusioned by the industry because I haven’t gotten worked over yet.
I feel like I’ve seen exponential growth in your fan base since I was introduced to your music, what’s your secret?
I don’t know, I have no control over it. As much as it’s growing it could be falling apart and every day I wonder if today is my last day as a musician. Earlier in my career I could see the growth cause it started from nothing. Now I don’t get emails that I can trace how they heard about it and now I can’t. I don’t have any secret, I’m trying to write honest music that excites me. I have to play it every night and I’m just trusting that people will find truth in it and enjoy coming and hearing it.
Tell me about the mocha club.
The mocha club has been a really cool thing to be a part of. It’s really a selfish thing for me. I’m doing this because it makes me feel good that we’re able to do some good here. It is no self-sacrafice, it is totally a selfish move that I’m able to help. It’s better than be selling a hundred records a night. I would rather do something like this because it’s for helping someone other than me and it’s a bigger cause than myself. I have not gone to Uganda to see where the impact is being made but I keep getting reports from my friend Barret who has been working over and it’s been awesome. They wired over $10,000 to start building huts and it’s really going. I’m just trying to figure out when I can make it over.
I’ve been really blessed to be a part of it! I plan on going over there again, the people there are so real. I just feel like they have so much to teach us. We have so much to learn from them. What sucks is so many westerners have gone over there thinking that they’re going to do some good. I think we would be really wise to slow down and just learn from the way they live their lives. Granted, they need a lot of help, a lot of physical needs to be met. Their lives are so simple and their priorities are so right that it’s kind of hard to look at us and think we have much to offer.
Any last words
i just posted Matt’s show from houston from a couple of months ago. I saw you’ve posted on him recently and thought you might like it! if you go to my blog, its 2 or 3 posts down. enjoy!
didn’t he record a version of “What Child is this?” I love that version.
Thanks for the suggestion