Most aspiring artists cut their musical teeth playing in their garage or even in front of a bedroom mirror. Matt Maeson spent his formative years playing in prisons as part of his parent’s traveling ministry.
Matt will be playing a sold-out show at Vinyl Center Stage in Atlanta on April 24. His new album, “Bank On the Funeral,” is available now.
Q: New album out April 5, how does that feel?
A: It feels great, it feels like a weight off of my shoulders. It’s also a bit surreal because we’ve been working on this album for so long, and then we’ve had this album done for so long, that it felt like it was already released.
Q: I know you hear about “Cringe” all of the time and I think that song was a home run. But as I’m listening to the record I’m more interested in “Go Easy” and “Tread On Me.” Those songs are so different lyrically but I feel like they might be related; am I on the right track?
A: Yeah, I wrote “Go Easy” actually right around the same time I wrote “Cringe.” I wrote those almost three years ago, and I wrote “Tread on Me” eight months ago, so they definitely came from two different places in my life.
Q: This may sound crazy, but are they about the same person?
A: Yes, I think a lot of times when I write it’s about the same experiences, but I also write about the “what if” I made. What would my opinion be if I did make that wrong choice? So sometimes I write from those perspectives.
Q: I know you come from a musical family. How does your family feel about your success so far?
A: They all absolutely love it. My dad has been able to come along to a couple of festivals and play some background guitar and do some solos throughout the set.
Q: When you were coming up as a songwriter and musician, were you ever in a band or have you always just played by yourself?
A: I’ve pretty much just always played by myself. I was just never around that many musicians, and if I was they were all older than me and it wasn’t a situation where I could start a band. So whenever I wrote songs I would write them with a band in mind, and I think that contributed to all those dynamics you hear in my songs. I wrote “I Just Don’t Care That Much” on an acoustic guitar, and that’s like a pretty heavy song to write on an acoustic guitar, but I had that mentality that I’d have a band behind it. Growing up I never had one, and by the time I met a producer that could produce some cool stuff, it just worked really well.
Q: I’m going to go back to “Cringe” for a second. In that song you sing “Lover Come Over,”and the Jeff Buckley fan in me wants to know if that’s a Jeff Buckley reference?
A: I’ve gotten asked that question more times in the last four months than I have ever. I’m a huge Jeff Buckley fan, but it wasn’t, at least I don’t think it was. I heard that song so long ago so I don’t think it was a conscious decision to make a tribute to Jeff Buckley, but it probably happened because I listen to so much of his work and that phrase was probably stuck in my head.
Q: One of the girls who works here was wondering if you were a sports fan and if so, who do you root for?
A: I’m not a sports fan in the least, but I do watch a lot of skateboarding.
Q: This one is from my son, he’s 15 and a guitar player, and he wants to know if you go scouring for equipment at music stores to change your sound?
A: Not really, because I grew up playing acoustic and I started off playing live acoustic, so I didn’t really pick up an electric guitar until a handful of years ago, and I didn’t really use that electric guitar until the tour before last.
Q: I know you grew up playing in prisons. What are some of the adjectives you use to describe standing on the stage and playing to that group of people?
A: That’s a really good question, man. I would definitely say “inspiring.” You’re standing up there for this crowd of people having no idea what they’ve done. There could be someone in there for five years for having a couple of pounds of marijuana, and the guy next to him is there for killing his family. It’s such a dark place, and when you get up there to play you really see the effect music has on some people and how much it can uplift them in such a dark place. I would leave every prison show inspired and so ready to write and to be a better person to people outside of the prison.
Q: Is there anything you want fans to know before the show?
A: You know, just have a good time and please just don’t throw Gushers at me. It sounds like a joke but I really do get a lot of them thrown at me.
Larry May is the owner of CD Cellar record store on Noble Street in downtown Anniston.