Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Matt Pond (matt pond PA) Interview

You may or may not have heard of them, but Matt Pond PA is a wonderful group and so is its founder, Mr. Matt Pond himself. This, dare I say it, is the best interview since Dr. Demento (click that Dr. Demento link on the left). Pond made some really intelligent comments regarding his work and music in general, and I urge you, whether you've heard of him or not, to read this interview and check out their album Several Arrows Later.

What made the group decide to release The Freeep for, well, free last year?

The intent was to make something that had no intention other than it's creation.

Just like when your stomach drops on a turbulent plane, letting go of expectation can certainly be thrilling.

Putting out records isn't all joyful wonderment. In fact, the preparation can sometimes put a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than focus on the negative, I wanted to highlight the core of what I love about music.

The end result allowed us to give something back to our fans. This type of situation is generally referred to as a "win, win".

You had to move to New York and get all new members a while back, so shouldn’t the new band’s name technically be matt pond NY?

Yes, you're correct.

Still, if I may be allowed to disagree with your supposition... Philadelphia's where I first started playing music. I will never waver in my allegiance to that time. I wrote some of my favorite songs fighting off the cold from under a sleeping bag in an un-heatable China Town loft. That love lives on.

You’ve covered songs by Oasis, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. Are they major influences of yours? Who are some of your other influences?

Of course. They are all hugely influential. The purpose of doing covers is homage to those things I love.

Some more: Neil Young, Neko Case, Vashti Bunyan, Early AC/DC, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Lykke Li, Ratatat, Leonard Cohen, The Magnetic Fields, The Smiths, Otis Redding, Pulp, Johnny Cash, Etta James, Blur, Black Mountain, Blonde Redhead, The Wooden Birds... The list can go on and on and on. The truth is if you plan to base your existence upon music, you better love to listen.

Some of those covers were featured on the television show The O.C. What was it like to hear your work on TV?

I don't have a great fondness for hearing our songs on the television. I imagine it's much like being hunted and gutted. After the first time it happened, I made a pact with myself to stay as distant as my legs would allow.

Which do you prefer: playing live or in the studio?

The studio has amazing flashes. In the studio, songs get arms and legs and start running around and making a beautiful mess of everything.

Correction: the mess is usually caused by poorly delivered high fives after nailing a shaky vocal. And most clumsiness in our circle is caused by me. Cellos, basses, guitars -- I've punted a variety of stringed instruments.

Live is when mistakes become magic. Live is when you give everything to only get a sweaty shirt. Live is when our jaws ache from singing all night and talking till dawn.

What was your favorite on-stage moment?

I would say there are millions. But playing the 930 club in Washington DC to a sold-out crowd for the first time was close to transcendent.

I was sick with fear. I thought everything in my life had led me up to that point to prove I was a fake. Brilliant, right? And somehow I loved it more than anything.

Yes. I enjoy stress.

How has your songwriting process changed over the years, if at all?

The process constantly changes. There are floods and there are droughts.

The part I'm confident about is that I have no idea where these songs come from. They just keep on coming.

The group has managed to tour with some fairly big names. Which group was your favorite to tour with so far?

I loved touring with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Night after night, I never got sick of seeing them.

Along with that, the drummer and I have known each other for years. It's good to know your friends are succeeding in this, the least secure of all fake businesses.

What can you tell me about the new album The Dark Leaves that’s (hopefully) coming out next January?

While I can criticize myself like crazy, I've never been that skilled at describing what I do. Some people will like it. Some people will not.

Therefore, allow me to ramble.

Lately it seems people are focused upon constantly recreating themselves. One could say that the new social commerce might be the internet transmission of an abstract idea of 'cool'.

...Okay. Please let me retract some of that pretension and still maintain my point.

People these days are running in feverish computer circles, chasing down less and less tangible ideas. I believe they sometimes even trample those around them in their pursuits.

The album is an attempt at showing the nobility of our individuality. In the same breath, it tries to look at commonality. Our connection is undeniable and we could get so much more out of this whole 'life' thing if we weren't only out for ourselves.

Disclaimer: I don't know if the music actually does what I'm saying, and I'm not a hippie.

You’ve been playing with this band for over 10 years now. What keeps you going?

I don't know what keeps me going. If I were a doctor, I'd probably give it the OCD diagnosis and send myself off to receive a kindly prescription.

I'm considering stopping after this next album and getting an MFA in composition. I think I'd make a fine professor. I imagine myself to be the kind with a classic Corvette convertible. I like the whole idea of having a fake leather wing back chair and walls of finely bound books. Most important, the teacher's lounge would have to have an extremely loud stereo. Yes, that's quite nice.

If I may quote Van Halen, "Class Dismissed!!".

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