SMatt Burke of
the Matt Burke Band
"Matt Burke Band let's it all hang out"
"perfect with a Corona & a beach bon fire
I INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by The Matt Burke Band entitled "“Pretty Close to Very Good” “Pretty Close to Very Good” is an impressive musical production from start to finish. The music is clean, goes down smooth, & the messages are upbeat & sung from a deeply carefree perspective. It’s strong suit – the solid consistency & musical warmth of Matt Burke. He possesses enough musical talent & songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. Like the aforementioned, there isn’t a weak song on this entire CD. The musicianship is first rate, the vocals, dynamic phrasing, & melodic accents are brilliantly placed & extremely well crafted. The Matt Burke Band let’s it all hang out musically on the CD & has clearly proven themselves with this debut release. From start to finish “Pretty Close to Very Good” is well - pretty close to Very Good to say the least..
IMD I was really impressed with your latest release. I get the impression you guys had a lot of fun with it in the studio.
MB Matt: It was a lot of fun to be in the studio with some great musicians. This whole project started with me, my guitar, and a drum and bass synth in my apartment. I had an idea of how I wanted the songs to sound but I could only get so close with synth drums and bass. Once I got in the studio with the drummer and bass player and heard these incredibly talented musicians putting their personal touches on parts I had written, I was blown away. Hearing these tunes develop and achieve their full potential through the talents of everyone involved was an incredible experience. Once we had everything laid down on our end, we shipped the tracks out to Brue in Florida where he recorded his leads and other guitar parts. The final mixing process of bringing together everyone’s parts into what would be the final mix was just amazing. I couldn’t stop smiling at what we had created. BRUE I was very happy when I heard the final product, but I was bit nervous when I went into the studio. Nobody had heard what I had written and I was worried that what I was doing wouldn't sound right with what was being done in the studio in Chicago. I didn't have Matt, or anyone else in the band, with me in the studio for direct feedback. The tracks I used in the studio in Florida were rough draft mp3's of the songs from Matt's drum machine in his apartment and seven tracks didn't even include bass lines. So, the studio sessions were a bit stressful, but in the end it all worked out well so I was very happy. The most exciting part for me was hearing what Matt and the rest of the guys did in the studio. Like Matt said, I honestly couldn't stop smiling either.
IMD How did you & Brue meet up anyway?
MB We met in college at Stetson University in DeLand, FL. At some point a mutual friend suggested to Brue that he should meet me since we both played music. We started jamming a little bit during our sophomore year and then landed our first bar gig at a dive bar called the Blind Pig. We had to fill 4 hours so we crammed and learned somewhere around 40 songs or so in a week. That first show must’ve been pretty bad, but back then everybody would get so wasted when we played that I’m sure no one noticed.
IMD When did you realize their might be something magical between you two musically?
MB Somewhere along the way when we were learning covers to beef up our set, we decided to try writing some original stuff. I would bring lyric ideas or melodies to the table, and Brue would pull out riffs he’d been working with and it all just seemed to fit together. Brue has always had this ability to fit his parts right into what I’ve written… like they were always a part of the song. It’s never been difficult writing together… our styles have meshed perfectly since day one.
IMD Who are some of those bands that have influenced you both the years?
MB Matt: I’ve always taken direct inspiration from great singer-songwriter types and the bands they play with, like David Gray, Ray Lamontagne, Damien Rice, Jason Mraz, and Ryan Adams. Overall though, my musical tastes are all over the board. I love hard rock, indie, alternative, hip hop, classic rock, and pop. If you were to put my ipod on shuffle you’d hear The Raconteurs, Arcade Fire, Imogen Heap, Sick Puppies, Atmosphere, Nas, Ingrid Michaelson, Journey, Mastodon, Bright Eyes, Lady Gaga… I’m really all over the place. BRUE Like Matt, I have been inspired by and listen to countless musiciansThe ones that have had the most influence on me would be Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dave Matthews, Jeff Beck, Robert Cray, B.B. King, and David Gilmour. If you looked through my ipod you would find a little bit of everything, but mostly reggae and blues.
IMD Listening to your impressive vocal style I keep hearing splashes of Rob Thomas, Ed Kowalczyk (Live) & even Adam Duritx (Counting Crows)? Am I far off the mark? Tell us who have been some of your top vocal influences over the years?
MB I started playing in bands back in the heyday of 90’s alternative rock, so it’s not surprising to me that you’re hearing that influence. My first cover bands played music from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day, The Gin Blossoms, Live, Counting Crows, etc. It’s no wonder that when I started writing original music, it was along the same lines as the stuff I had been covering. So yeah, I guess it makes perfect sense that my style would’ve incorporated certain elements common to 90’s vocalists.
IMD What inspired you to start writing music in the first place?
MB I honestly can’t remember it ever being a conscious decision. I’ve been doing music in one form or another since the 3rd grade. It started with children’s choir, and then moved on to jazz and concert bands in middle and high school (I played sax). Somewhere around 8th grade I was in a band that started writing our own material, and lyrics just came naturally to me. I was in several bands in high school that wrote and performed original music and coming up with words and vocal melodies were just a very natural process for me. I struggled with writing guitar parts for a while… that didn’t come until college.
IMD What are the biggest things you want fans to take from your music?
MB I really tried my best to write songs that people can relate to. Coming from the “alternative” school of songwriting, it was very hard for me to get away from dark chords, dissonance, and cryptic lyrics. But at some point I decided to make a conscious effort to write music that made people feel good. I started writing lyrics first, then aligned them with a vocal melody, then finally matched the chords and riffs to the vocals. Writing the songs in this way allowed me to start with the subject matter, whereas before I’d always start with a minor chord progression and the lyrics inevitably ended up being depressing. Starting with the story first helped match the mood of the song to the story being told. I want everyone to be able to hear a complete story in each song and experience the accompanying emotions through the music. BRUE I want people to listen to Matt's lyrics and realize they don't have to live like sheep.
IMD What is the best concert you each have been to over the years?
MB That’s such a hard question since my tastes are so diverse and I go to a lot of different concerts for a lot of different reasons. I love a big polished show, like when I saw David Gray at the Fox Theater in Detroit. The musicianship there was just incredible. I saw Eric Hutchinson at the Double Door in Chicago and he blew me away. I’ve seen Imogen Heap several times and she’s just outstanding on every level. With all of that being said, I’d say that probably the best show I’ve ever been to is Regina Spektor at the Chicago Theater. It was her on piano and vocals, a drummer, and two strings players that alternated between violins and cellos. It was so pure… it was the most legitimate music I’ve ever seen live. BRUE That is a tough one. I have seen a lot of great shows: Phish, Dave Matthews Band, David Gray, The Tragically Hip, B.B. King, and many others. I recently saw Eric Clapton… he had Roger Daltry open for him, and that was a pretty great show! But the best concert I have seen (most fun, coolest fans, best sound, best overall buzz, etc.) was Damien Marley at the Freebird Live in Jacksonville, Florida. It was right after his "Welcome to Jamrock' album came out. His brother, Stephen Marley, opened for him and I was front and center in the first row. I have never witnessed someone perform with the emotional intensity he did. I had chills the whole time.
IMD I especially enjoyed the piece “Superstar” can you tell us about that particular piece, what inspired that one?
MB I wrote Superstar a couple of years back. I wanted to write a piece from the perspective of someone who just thought they were better than everyone else. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot, and I knew a lot of people from well-off families that were so quick to pass judgment about other people based on their clothes or the things they did or didn’t have. That always really bothered me. I’ve always really had a problem with blatant, unjustified arrogance, and that’s the type of person I was trying to portray in the first verse. Then, I started thinking about those big, over-inflated rock stars that completely lose touch with their fans and their motivation for writing music in the first place. That’s verse two. The kinds of artists I’ve always appreciated the most are the ones that are humble and that truly show appreciation for their fans. They’d be nothing without their fans, and I think fame has a way of making people forget that. So yeah, overall the song is about being true to one’s self and drawing pride and strength from within.
IMD How about “Fading Faces” could you tell us more about this song?
MB That’s a personal favorite of mine, not just because of the lyrics, but because it’s so fun to play. The seed that grew that song was the line, “Mitch Hunt where the fuck’d you go?” That was the very first idea I had. Something about it just stuck with me and I had no choice but to build a song around it. That line gave rise to the thought that there are so many people in life that are only in your world for a brief while and then they disappear. Some people are awesome and add value to your life, and you look back on them with fondness and have a genuine desire to reconnect. Others were either two-faced or terrible people to begin with and you’re incredibly happy to see them go. A select few of the hundreds of relationships you have will stand the test of time, and those are the people to truly appreciate and value in life. And yes, Mitch Hunt is a real person, and we really were awesome friends in 3rd grade… I’m just wondering if he’ll be flattered or creeped out that I wrote a song about him.
IMD What’s next for The Matt Burke Band?
MB We’re putting 100% of our effort into getting word out about The Matt Burke Band and our album, Pretty Close to Very Good. We’re incredibly proud of the album and hope that everyone will love it… it’s just getting people to notice it that’s the difficult part. We’re blessed to be doing this in the age of the independent musician, but at the same time that means there’s a lot more static to rise above to get noticed. We want to tour as soon as possible. We would love to hear our music on college and satellite radio. So really at this point we’re just pushing the album hard, playing as much as possible, and crossing our fingers.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2010
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