Matthew Good on the road again with sixth album
Martyr recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Canadian rock legend Matthew Good from Mission, B.C. about releasing his sixth solo album titled “Arrows of Desire” which will be streaming on his website September 17 and for sale September 24, with the Canadian tour set to kick off mid-October in Belleville, Ont. Madysun Ball got to sit down with Good at Toronto’s prestigious Fairmont Royal York Hotel and pick his brain about his solo career, the inspiration and creation of his new album, the unique perspective of touring by land across Canada, his blogging activism (RubBish) and what it’s like trading up life in the city for the country family life in B.C.
MB: So Are you excited about the release of Arrows of Desire?
Good: I guess. (Laughs) You do this long enough, and it just becomes one of those things. It’s just another part of the process right? For it means that I get to go on the road – which I like. It just means I get to go play.
MB: Do you prefer being on the road?
Good: Not necessarily, I just like, going out with the guys and playing, it’s just a lot of fun.
MB: What’s your favorite part of performing?
Good: Don’t know that I have one really. I just like doing it. It’s a hard question to answer because you can only pick one aspect of it, and it’s kind of an all encompassing ordeal.
MB: Like most of your other albums was Arrows of Desire inspired by change, family life, and your surroundings?
Good: It came from after I got off the road with the last record, which was off the beaten path as far as my records go. I just started listening to a lot of stuff that I listened to when I was a teenager. A lot of bands like Husker Do, and The Replacements, and bands from when I was a little older, such as The Pixies which came out when I was graduating. It just happened to be one day that I was listening to it, that I was doing some work that I picked up my guitar and started writing, so I wrote Via De La Rosa and Arrows of Desire kind of back to back, and because I demo things very quickly at home, once I had them down and the songs done, I had found my anchor and my direction, and knew where I was going.
MB: What song was the most personal for you on this album?
Good: They all kind of are. I think that in the past, when you’re a newer artist there are certain songs that you do on records that, even when I look back in retrospect, there are entire records that I look back and go just, ‘what the fuck?’ As you get older and get far better at self-editing, you basically have the ability to be very objective with yourself instead of saying “this is the greatest thing anyone has ever heard!” You get to a point where you tell yourself, I’m going to go in to the studio and I’m going to get this 60% right from what I hear in my head. Ultimately after almost 20 years of doing this you have attachments to everything for certain reasons. Over time some songs fall away, but it kind of depends it’s like anything. As an artist certain people maybe not, but I’m massively critical of myself, in every aspect of thing I do. I’m bad with holding myself to high standards, very self deprecating, and hard on myself when it comes to that sort of thing, and has never been something I’ve been able to get over.
MB: Is it something that has gotten more difficult over the years?
Good: No, when it comes to making records it’s a very difficult thing because budgets have just gone down and down and down, so you find yourself in situations where you tell yourself if I had this much more time, and more resources what could I ultimately do. One of my biggest dreams is inspired by when I think of the Beatles after they stopped touring. I mean – aside from maybe Elvis Presley – they were the biggest in the world at that time, but when they started making records after they stopped touring they were pumping out two albums a year with an unlimited budget basically, and they could just go live in Abbey Road and make records. They could bring in guitarists, and string sections and anything they wanted. What it must be like to have that freedom? For me, there’s no question they came up with the brilliance they produced with such infinite resources. Take “Pet Sounds” for example, it’s like Brian Wilson had the studio at home and he was working there, and before that he had the full run of Capitol (Records) in L.A., and the wrecking crew was doing the backing tracks, and he had the ability to say to himself, ‘I’m working on this and I’m going to get it,’ and when he did he created something that was going to influence everyone from the Beatles to infinite items. For someone to go in now, on a fixed budget and four weeks being the longest you’re going to spend to create it it’s a little different.MB: You release albums every second year or so, do you have a single set budget for all your records or does it vary?
Good: It depends, it changes over the years depending on where you are in your contract cycle and how many records you sold before the record you’re going in to do, and if it met or didn’t meet expectations is going to facilitate whether you get low balled. The most expensive record I ever made was The Audio of Me and we spent four months making the record, and a lot of money. Then obviously the band broke up.
MB: When was the last time you spoke to the other members of the band?
Good: I saw Geoff, right before he died. He came in to the studio. Whenever I got an email or call from Geoff I always responded. I always had nothing but love for the guy. When the band first got together he was really the heart and soul of it, he always gave 110 per cent. He could be goofy and wacky at times and a fucking alcoholic, but he was fucking awesome.
MB: Living downtown Vancouver is what inspired your last two albums, what’s different about living in Mission B.C.?
Good: I have a ranch right by the Abbey now. I lived downtown for 18 years, and we have three kids. My wife is from the country, and she told me she wanted the kids raised there. I had no problem with it at all, because I’m a total home body as it is. Her and my eldest daughter ride (equestrian,) so I’ve become the world’s greatest stable boy.
MB: On your latest blog entry you’re talking about how you wanted to retire at 65, and move to a retirement home?
Good: Yeah, my wife has friends who own a really nice retirement community in Abbotsford, B.C., and basically we were joking about how it’s almost like living on a cruise ship that doesn’t move. We joke about how awesome it would be, you know to have three meals a day, on china, living a luxurious la did ah. We use it on our kids all the time, we’re like “Once you bastards are out of here, we’re retiring!”
MB: Are you going to leak the album on website before it goes on sale?
Good: Yep! About a week before we will be leaking it on Rdio.com, and the website, as well as some other European site. We would love to stream it on iTunes, but because September is some special month for iTunes they’re not doing the release of it this month.
MB: Is there a difference between the album being released in Europe and the one here and in the US?
Good: Yes, in Europe it’s a double album. It’s not just the album you have, it’s that and an acoustic album because when I go and perform in Europe sometimes I play with a band, and sometimes I play by myself. It’s all older work. It’s like the acoustic tour of North America I did before. So it’s all songs everyone here would already know.
MB: Are you excited about going on tour?
Good: Oh yeah! Very excited! I can’t wait. All the cities are so different to perform in. I’ve been across this country 68 times by land or something like that, so I mean I’ve got something about every part of this country that’s awesome. People in my profession who have been doing this a long time, and have played all over this country have a unique perspective of what Canada is. We understand the importance of it as a whole from Quebec, to the Maritimes, to the prairies. We understand why certain things are special. It’s difficult to go in to a microcosm, like to go to the prairies and tell the people that there’s no reason for stop sign in Quebec to say Stop in French and English. It can just be in French, cause if you don’t know what a fucking stop sign looks like the fact that it says “Arrêt” means what? Like come on. It’s a stop sign.
MB: Do you find that the fan base varies a lot from coast to coast?
Good: Well yeah, economics has a lot to do with it. You know you go to Alberta, and you’re gonna sell more merchandise than anywhere else in the country because they got money. You know you’re gonna play in Saskatoon or Regina and you’re gonna play in a large club because no one rolls in there anymore. There’s parts of the country where it is what it is.
MB: Do you prefer large venues or small intimate settings?
Good: I prefer theatres. That’s why I made a decision early on after the band broke up that that’s what I wanted to do. We had been doing arenas and that shit and it’s so impersonal. It’s a far better and experience for a show to connect with the audience. Theaters are more cerebral as well, if you were going to go see this record be performed for example, in a venue with an open floor, you know just as well as I do that with alcohol in the mix and some serious jackassery is going to follow. It’s a much more cerebral experience in a theater; you’re listening to the music, watching the light show. You’re in to it, you can be standing up even, but you’re limited in what you can do so you kind of take it in a different way.
MB: What song are you most proud of on this album?
Good: I don’t know. That’s a tough question. I’m a pretty big fan of “Garden of Knives.” I haven’t really ever outwardly written a song that’s so blatantly about sex before, and that’s exactly what that song is about. I’m kind of for the scandalous aspect of that. Vibe wise, “Letters of Wartime” is pretty damn good too. It’s a hard question to answer, because all the songs do different things for me.
MB: Do you find this album being similar to older albums, or do you feel you incorporated something different?
Good: Well you get everything down, and you get to a place that you’re done. It’s just something different in each album because you need something different. You’ve already done something so why the fuck do you want to do it again? I do think you can say it’s a little guilty of doing things again, especially sonically. If I just wanted to make the same record, I would, but that doesn’t really intrigue me. I don’t find it challenging.
MB: What political movements are you currently supporting?
Good: All the same things. It’s just in our society in regards to the way things are, I always intrigued that we stole this land from a people, and people continue to immigrate to this country and the USA and everyone has a problem with that. We’re a society built on immigration after the subjugation of a land. Another big one in North America obviously, is gay rights. I think it’s utterly ridiculous that there’s even a fucking question about it. It blows my mind personally. The interjection of reason is my big thing. With everything that’s going on in the last six months it’s just a damn shame that George Carlin is dead. I would have loved to hear what George Carlin had to say about shit. He’s kind of been warning us about all this stuff since the 1970’s.