Thursday, September 5, 2013

{INTERVIEW} matt hires

TIOJ had the opportunity to chat with Matt Hires before his show at Sixth and I a few weeks ago. Read ahead as we talk about songwriting, astrophysics, and -- our favorite -- presidents.

Listen while you read!

Tell us about yourself! How long have you been making music? 
I’m from Tampa, Florida, and I started playing music when I was 11 years old. Bass guitar was my first instrument. When I was about 15 or 16, I started wanting to write songs, so I taught myself to play the six-string guitar, and it kind of happened from there. I started a band after high school and we played for a couple years, then I started doing the solo thing.

Photo by Reid Rolls
How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it before? 
It’s singer-songwriter, but I try to do more -- it’s pop, it’s folk, it’s kind of alternative. A lot of the stuff I listen to is Wilco and The National -- kind of more “indie” bands, if you will -- so I feel like there’s a little bit of that flavor in there. But at the same time, it’s pop -- folky pop.

You mentioned a few bands that influence your music. Do you have any others that you’ve been inspired by? 
Some of my big ones are Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, and Wilco.

Click ahead to read about Matt's new album and to find out what he'd be doing if he wasn't making music.

You just came out with a new album, This World Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend. Can you talk a little bit about the process of making it? Were you trying to do something different? 
My favorite artists are artists who don’t make the same record twice, who sound different from record to record -- not completely, but keeping the same core substance. I feel like I did that; that’s what I was going for. It has the singer-songwriter heart of the first record, but we messed with arrangements more; I did some different things with songwriting. Pretty much all of the songs on the first record, I wrote on the acoustic guitar, and we built on it from there. Some of the songs on the new record, I wrote some with my producer, Eric Ross, who plays piano -- so we wrote them on piano. The songs can just turn out differently when you start on a different instrument. I feel like it was good to get my head, out of the just acoustic guitar world. I think it’s poppier but at the same time has a little bit more of an edge. It’s more honest overall. I’d like to think that the songs have matured, that my songwriting has matured. I released my first album in 2009, so it’s been four years -- hopefully I’ve gotten a little more mature in my songwriting!

What’s your writing process like? 
I used to always carry a voice recorder around with me, but now I have my iPhone, which has a recorder on it. So sometimes I’ll just be doing something random and come up with an idea in my head and I’ll record it and come back to it later, or sometimes I’ll start with something on the guitar -- it really all just depends. I try not to get into any ruts of doing it the same way every time.

If you weren’t doing music, do you have any idea of what you’d be doing? 
In reality -- the only job I had before playing music was working in a cabinet shop, and I worked there for like seven and a half years, so I guess I could still be there (but I’m glad I’m not!). Not that I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Dream job? If I had unlimited brain capacity, probably an astrophysicist. You know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is? He’s on the Daily Show and Colbert and an astrophysicist. [KK: So you’d be a cool astrophysicist, duh.] Yeah, one who’s on Twitter saying funny things.

So how’s it been touring with your band? 
They’re great, really great. These guys are all from Denver, and we got hooked up through my manager. They play in their own band and he had seen them play a while back, so we started playing together at the beginning of this year, before I went out with Matchbox 20 on tour.

What was touring with Matchbox 20 like? 
It was great. Those guys are really cool, they’re really personable and would hang out. I was never a huge fan, but now I’m a big fan. They’re really good live and they still bring it. I like that they’re not just sitting back on their greatest hits or anything, they’re still pushing themselves and killing it.

Do you have any crazy show experiences or a favorite? 
All the shows were great, and this tour has been great so far with Parachute. Once we got our van stuck next to the Mississippi River in Louisiana. We had just left the show and were planning on doing some driving that night. We were so close to the venue that we could still hear Matchbox 20 playing (it was an outdoor show) but we were stuck in this foggy bayou and finally somebody towed us out.

Is there a song you’ve been listening to this whole tour? Something we need to add to our iPods right now? 
The new National record and the newest record from Jason Isbell -- he was in the Drive-by Truckers. I’ve never been a big fan of theirs, but I was driving at the beginning of this tour from Florida to Denver to rehearse with [my band], so I was by myself for 28 hours in a van. I was asking for musical recommendations. That was one that my friend recommended and I loved it; I think I listened to it probably four times on the drive.

You’ve been to DC before, so you’re kind of familiar. Do you have a favorite spot in DC? 
I love the museums and stuff, but I really love the Lincoln Memorial. There’s something about it -- there’s something about that place that makes you reflect. It’s quiet.

photo via Matt's drummer Jesse's instagram
So is Lincoln your favorite president then? 
I’d say so, yeah.

Good choice, Matt -- he's up there on our list too.

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