Monday, April 2, 2012

Bonus Q&A with Mat Kearney

photo by Pamela Littky
Here is more from my interview with Mat Kearney, who starts his California tour on Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif.

Q: You finished a run of U.S. dates in February. What have you been up to lately?
Mostly, honestly, I’ve just been sitting around enjoying the weather, writing some new music and gearing up for this [California] tour. So it’s been a little down time for me.

Q: Are you satisfied with how the latest album “Young Love” has been received so far and the way fans have responded to it?
Honestly, it’s been really incredible. I put out the record “Nothing Left to Lose” and that exploded. I blinked and didn’t see it coming; almost felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. Then I put out “City of Black & White,” which did well, but not as well as the first one.

So going into the third one, it was like, ‘I hope people still care about what I’m doing.’ To put out “Young Love,” I had such a sense of satisfaction and I’m so proud of it. When the album dropped and it went No. 1 on iTunes and had the biggest first week I’ve ever had in my life, it was very rewarding. We’re not done yet. There’s still meat on the bone.

Q: Among the standout tracks on the latest album is “Young Dumb and in Love,” which has a carefree vibe reminiscent of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Was that what you were going after?
That was the sleeper. It was one of my favorites. The label, producers and everyone [said],  ‘that song’s ok.’ I was like, ‘no, this song is awesome.’

Q: What effect has living in Nashville had on your music?
It’s a really exciting town. Rolling Stone called it the 'best music city in America.' There’s a lot of country influence and I’ve made a lot of friends in that world, but there’s also [artists like] Kings of Leon, Jack White, Black Keys and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll music that has influenced me. It’s also the center of songwriters. No matter what you’re doing, it’s hard not to be influenced by the quality level of songwriting in this town.

Q: Since you were raised in Oregon, was it a culture shock when you first moved there?
It still is. Every summer, I’m like, ‘why the heck did I move from the West Coast?’ [laughs]. I miss the wine and salmon and beer, the outdoors and Oregon ducks. What brought me here was really the community of people. I’ve grown to love the south and the rustic Americana quality of life you see here. But deep down, I’m a West Coast kid and I miss it. On my mother’s side, I’m a sixth generation Oregonian. At some point, I  have to go back and make babies just so I can [keep that family line going].

Q: What is the key to your ongoing musical partnership with producer/co-writer Robert Marvin?
We really complement each other. I’m much more of the big picture story, heart of the record. Robert’s really good at creating sonic beds. Some of the musical things you’re hearing on the record are really his babies. He brings out a lot of good ideas that I get to edit through with him that we really come to beautiful place.

Q: Since you used to be a graffiti artist, have you considered doing album cover art incorporating those design elements?
My vandalism days are behind me. I think I’ve lost all my spray can skills. I would be out of practice. I did a mural one Christmas a long time ago for a family member on this old run down house.

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