Love him or hate him, the man makes great music. Matthew Good is back with another solo venture, his sixth solo studio album, Arrows of Desire. The lead single off the record, “Had It Coming” has fans perking their ears to a change in sound, and like anything stamped with the Matt Good name, it’s worth the listen.
True to his reputation, Matt Good is exactly the straightforward, no-nonsense and might we say, blunt, kind of guy fans have come to know and love. Plain and simple the guy is real. Ask him a question and he will give you an answer. These are the things we asked Matthew Good.
Arrows of Desire opens with an in-you-face guitar, which is quite different from the last two albums. How did you come to open the album with that?
From the day I wrote it, I knew I was going to open the record that way. I usually choose the tracks that open an album pretty quick. It may be in contrast to the last two records, but it’s not something I have not done in the past. Given the context of the record, I think it was pretty much the perfect choice.
Does the first track always set the tone for the record?
For the first half of it, yeah.
How much thought do you put into how the record ends?
I put a lot of thought into all of it. I put a lot of thought into how it’s tracked, how songs are placed and how far apart they are place – all of that.
The video for “Had It Coming” has an every man feel to it. You’re just a guy walking down the street, going to work. Your work just happens to be playing a show. Is that how you feel – just like every other guy walking down the street?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything other than being just an ordinary person. Doing what I do for a living doesn’t make me any better or worse than anybody else.
You have a sizable catalogue of music. Is there one song you’re most proud of?
Probably “Non Populus” off the last record would have to take the cake because I think that anything I’ve ever done, that’s come into my head, I’ve captured forty or fifty per cent of ultimately what I wanted to do and that song was much higher.
With any new album release, is there anticipation to see how longtime fans will react and receive the record?
Not really. I base it more on what goes on, on tour and how that goes.
What do you think about how people perceive the success of an album now since it’s not based very much on album sales anymore?
How many asses are in seats is what it comes down to at the end of the day [laughs].
Since you’ve done both, is there a preference between playing acoustic shows or full band shows?
I like playing acoustically better because it’s a lot of fun to talk and engage the audience between songs and you can do it for quite a long period of time sometimes. It’s very fluid and you never know what’s going to happen. You play with a band and it’s orchestrated to some extent because you put together a set list and there are lots of things that go into it. There are technicalities like guitar changes, who starts what, when. Those things alter what a show will do.
Being someone who has been on the forefront of the blogging world since the beginning, what do you think about its evolution – how it has changed throughout the years?
As with anything, when something becomes too crowded, the purpose becomes drowned out. I think that putting it into the context of citizen journalism, it’s a good thing and in those situations when you’re looking for real time information from the ground in places that matter, it’s an important thing. With that said, there’s a lot out there that’s just pointless.
Do you do any paper and pen/pencil writing anymore?
Well, no. When I write I use a computer. I don’t write by hand much anymore. The written word especially when it comes across in a permanent format, an online format there isn’t a sense of permanence there. I mean, yes, you can find it again, but it’s not the same as holding a book or a newspaper in your hands. Not only that, there’s also a considerable amount of confusion around with debate. If you read say a piece in a newspaper on an issue that is very popular and people are discussing it, they’re going to use that information and whatever information is disseminated, they’re going to use that information amongst themselves in a real fashion. Whereas when you talk online, anyone can be anyone. People have a tendency to shit-disturb. From that point of view, it’s definitely lent itself to the declination of intelligent discourse. Anonymity aids in what people say and their brevity.
It’s public knowledge that you battle with bipolar disorder. What have been your most effective therapies?
It’s a genealogical disorder. It’s in your family. You’re born with it. It’s not something you develop so you’re talking about neurology. There’s only one way to deal with neurology, improper release of dopamine or anything else that effects brain chemistry. That’s by regulating it by medication. You can’t conquer schizophrenia with yoga. It’s not done. When you suffer from something like that, that’s like telling someone who has cancer to just go jogging and it’ll be okay. It doesn’t work.
A lot of people are misdiagnosed and given drugs on whims. When you deal with mental illness, the irony is, you have to deal with it on a rational standpoint when your brain, depending on what you have, is throwing out confusion. You have to tell yourself that this medication makes me feel really bad, but in six months I’ll be past that. I have to commit to it, to deal or lessen the illness. In my experience I don’t really know that I can go to meditate my way out it.
As a television watcher, why do you think audiences today have come to embrace the antihero much more in TV like in Breaking Bad for instance?
Because it’s plausible in a lot of ways. If you look throughout literature, in a lot of significant examples, it’s always the antihero that people are drawn to. It depends on what period of literature. This day and age people will identify more with people they have things in common with. There’s still the reality of people who envy things and will always be attracted to that, but you know for the most part people want real characters. Speaking of Breaking Bad, I haven’t watched it in two seasons. I’m really bad with programs where things happen in a whirlwind. I really don’t like shows where everything happens day after day after day after day, like you’re on the ledge of a building. I kind of like things that are more representative of reality and it is hard to find shows like that.
Have you found shows like that?
HBO’s Rome was like that because it took into considerable skips in time. I’ve always been a fan of how BBC does Dicken’s Bleak House.
Kids of the ’90s remember it best by things like Beautiful Midnight and Underdogs. What are things you remember best about the 90s?
Best or just remember? Rwanda. The Gulf War. Not a lot of sleep. A lot of work.
Do you have a list of albums you are planning on or have already forced your kids to listen to?
No. My kids like the kind of music you can jump around to. I don’t unleash Combat Rock on them or anything.
What’s one thing being a musician has taught you about yourself?
Hmm. Well I don’t know if it’s true anymore, but I probably aged twenty years operating on little to no sleep.