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Matt the Electrician - Animal Boy

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Old 11-25-2009, 12:07 AM   #1
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Matt the Electrician - Animal Boy

this is a local guy, and i heard a track on the radio and really liked it so i picked it up. i think ra fans would like the album. its hard to pull of cheeky (the first track is a sweet journey cover), but these songs have great melodies with a variety of instruments, good lyrics and great singing. somewhere between the folksy/alt-country side of things with a little uptempo in some parts.

For maybe four years runningóuntil I got overwhelmed with being so popular and having too much workó I think I could count on my nipples the number of times I missed the regular Wednesday night gig Matt the Electrician plays with Southpaw Jones, a running residency going on something like seven years now (and currently held at Flipnotics on Barton Springs Rd). I never, ever, ever get tired of hearing either M or SP play. And Iím so happy to tell you that this week Mattís sending a new record out into the world, Animal Boy, with an official CD release party Friday, October 9th, at the Cactus Cafť.

The disc is pure brilliance from the rich horns that open the first songó and you have to have cojones muy grande to open with a cover of Journeyís Faithfully and pull it off the way Matt doesóright on through to the end. Matt somehow manages to consistently spin the equivalent of a multi-plot novel in four minutes or less, and he can rhyme and sing while heís doing it. The imagery in his songwriting is nothing short of cinematic so that you find yourself in each song, interacting with the cast of characters that inhabit his tales: a naked valedictorian at graduation, an arrogant leash-loathing dog owner, giddy girls on bicycles in Osaka in the rain, an underpaid yet terribly kind Walmart employee saving the day, a truck driver peeing into a Gatorade bottle. In Animal Boy (the song) we get a spectacular view of a child looking back at some of the curious rules and choices offered by the grownups at dinnertime.

Iíve been playing the disc over and over, and I know itís one Iíll wear out long before I get sick of it (likely never.) Even when Iím actually not playing it, it keeps playing in my head, and I do not mean in that way a song gets stuck in your head and you donít like it. I mean, I just canít stop singing Mattís songs.

Matt the Electrician: Animal Boy
Matt is forever working it, both on tour and in town - doing solo shows, shows with Paw and, on Monday nights, regular gigs at the Saxon Pub with his band. Plus, he and his wife Kathie have a couple of awesome kids. Despite his busy-ness, he agreed to a little Q& A.

SG: How long have you been doing this singing/songwriting thing?

MTE: Well, when I was 15, I got my first paying gig, and Iím 37 now. That first time, I was sitting in the Bittersweet Coffee Shop in Pacific Grove, California, and there was a guitar hanging on the wall. The owner asked if I could play a song. I only knew one song, Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles, so I played it, and she gave me a sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a weekly gig, which I played till I was 18.

SG: When you're writing a song, are you able to block out hopes of "a hit" and just write whatever you want? How does business figure into your process?

MTE: I guess the only business stuff for me comes after the writingó touring, promotion and the like. When Iím writing I really just write what I want to, because honestly, the idea that anything I do is ever going to be
considered hit song material, in this current climate of American Idol just seems ridiculous. It's not even that I dislike current pop music, it's just that I feel that what I do is not really in the same arena as that music, so it doesn't enter into the thought process when Iím writing.

SG: You are the ultimate storyteller, both in your songs, and with the stories you tell onstage between songs. Were you born telling stories?

MTE: I was. The first story was titled, 'The Walls of the Vagina', and while I think it showed potential; it was decidedly not my best work.

SG: What's your favorite story?

MTE: In my pre-teen years, my family was living in west Marin County, and my dad worked for George Lucas at Skywalker ranch as the foreman of the cabinet shop (my dad's a carpenter). It was an amazing experience for a geeky ten year-old, already completely obsessed with all things Star Wars, as we got to go to movie premieres, and these fantastic Fourth of July picnics, where movie stars, directors, special effects mavens and construction workers and their families all did the sack race and played softball together. I mean, I got to meet Mark Hamill, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jackson, and the list go on and on.

One year, we were on our way out of the picnic after a long day, and as we walked among the tables on our way to the parking lot, my brother and I saw Penny Marshall sitting at a table with a bunch of other people. We were freaking out, I mean, Laverne! It was Laverne....

So, when we got to the car, we decided that someone had to go back and get her autograph in the yearly high-school-like yearbook that Lucasfilm handed out every year. It was decided that my seven year old brother was just cute and competent enough for the task at hand, so we sent him across the parking lot clutching our yearbook. He was at the table for a few minutes, and then he came running back to the car. We asked him what happened, while opening the yearbook to check out the goods. Apparently, he had approached this entire table, held out the book, and asked, 'Can you please sign this for me?', and a big bearded guy had reached for the book and said, 'Sure son', and started writing.... so my brother says, 'Not you, her', pointing at Laverne, and everyone at the table starts laughing uncontrollably, and the poor bearded man turns red, and hands the book to Penny. So we open to the autograph section of the book and right under Penny Marshallís autograph, is a partial signature that reads, Francis For...So, we have Penny Marshallís autograph, and half of Francis Ford Coppola's autograph.

SG: What is your process and how is different from the days when you weren't married/didn't have kids?

MTE: I guess I get so many of my ideas from my family that it hasn't really changed the process much. Or, itís just that I don't remember anything before I was married with kids. When I get an idea, I usually just sing it into the recorder on my iPhone, or jot a few words down on a Post It note, and then do most of my writing after everyone is asleep at night. I'm a big fan of writing entire songs on Post It notes. It's not environmentally friendly, but it's just the way my brain works.

SG: You go out on the road-- tell me about that.

MTE: My booking agent, Laura Thomas, does most of the booking for me, so that part of it's relatively easy for me. As for being gone from the family, while I love touring on one level, it's also hard being gone, but it's something I have to do to make money, and it's definitely fun to be able to connect with fans all over, and see different parts of the world. And, I have an amazingly wonderful and supportive wife, who understands why I do what I do, and who takes on the incredibly difficult task of single parenting while Iím on the road. When Iím home though, I do get to spend a lot of time with the kids, more so than if I had a 9 to 5 job. But it's definitely a balancing act.

SG: It's been sometime since you were an electrician who removed peoples' shorts for a living - what's it like in this economy hustling to make it?

MTE: So far so good...haven't really felt too many bad effects of the financial downturn...luckily, the bar industry, and the entertainment industry, are the last to feel the effects of a recession, as people still want to go out and drown their sorrows, and listen to something that's not about how bad things are. Oh, and I planted a Money tree in the backyard, so we've got that going for us.

SG: I should've asked this first-- tell me a little bit about this new CD.

MTE: The main thing is that mark Addison and I played almost all of the instruments on the new record, and that was a blast. I invited a few other folks in here and there, but it was a lot of experimentation, and playing instruments that I didn't really know how to play, and wasn't necessarily that comfortable with at first, but a great learning experience. And I think that's reflected on the recordings, they just sound really fun to me. The end.

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Old 12-01-2009, 06:28 PM   #2
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Re: Matt the Electrician - Animal Boy

Very cool. I dig Matt the Electrician.
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