/ FACES Magazine February 2017
If you grew up in Ottawa in the ‘90s you couldn’t escape the Matthew Good Band. Last of the Ghetto Astronauts was popular here long before Toronto began to appreciate the genius of Matthew Good. Even Matt himself acknowledges that outside of his native Vancouver, Ottawa was his first and biggest market. He’s played every venue in the city and has many fond memories. Matthew Good will be back in Ottawa on March 16th to play at the NAC. But this time, things will be a little bit different.
Perhaps the most known and beloved Matthew Good Band album is Beautiful Midnight. I don’t really know how to describe how truly amazing it is. To put things into perspective, I’d put the album up there with Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten and Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. Yes, it’s that good. But what makes it even more special is that it’s Canadian.
When Matthew Good comes to town on March 16th, you’ll hear Beautiful Midnight in its entirety from front to back. You’ll likely hear some other hits too, but for the first time in nearly 20 years the entire album will be revisited. In the interim, you can hear how some of the tracks have been reimagined on I Miss New Wave: Beautiful Midnight Revisited. It’s an EP that reimagines 5 songs from Beautiful Midnight in a brand new light. The tracks are completely new in sound and scope and will tide you over until Matthew Good comes to town.
When did you get the idea of reimaging songs from Beautiful Midnight?
It has everything to do with the release of the vinyl. I got a screen shot—I’m not sure who sent it to me but probably someone from management—and it showed that Underdogs, Hospital Music and Last of the Ghetto Astronauts were number 1. They had all come out the same week and we had maintained the number 1 spot for quite sometime. They had even beaten out Blackstar by David Bowie!
It really made us think that there is an interest out there and, because we’re in an off record cycle, I thought we should tour the album. Then we thought what it might look like to take a few songs from Beautiful Midnight and reimagine them. That’s how it all came to be.
Did you reimagine the whole album and choose your favourites?
Or did you choose these 5?
Definitely the latter—I wasn’t going to redo a whole record. Load Me Up is something I’ve played acoustically, but I wanted to do a kind of weird, crazy, dreamy version of the song. I Miss New Wave we did because it’s one of my favourite songs off the record and we wanted to give it a new spin.
What we did with approaching these songs – instead of looking at the old parts of the song – I played them at home acoustically with vocals. Then we went in the studio, listened to it and built everything up around it.
As a teenager in the ‘90s, Load Me Up was a great pump up song. The reimagined version is super toned down, but fantastic.
How do you make such a drastic change in the tone and tempo?
We changed the whole chord progression. It was so fun to sing. We were all just enamoured with that new Crown Royal Country Harvest (laughs). We had some of that on the rocks, dimmed the lights and did maybe five passes of the song and put together the finished product. But when we tour we’ll play the Beautiful Midnight version live because this version is slow as molasses.
How have you personally changed from when Beautiful Midnight first came out to you reimaging the album now?
It’s a lot different. If you listen to the tracks the maturity is completely different. When I go back and listen to stuff, especially with the same guy who produced the original record (Warne Livesey), we looked at each other wondering what we were thinking. It’s kind of funny, but it was a trip singing some of those songs. Especially because there’s only one song out of all of them that I lowered the key on. The others all have the same key we recorded with 17 years ago. But singing Suburbia and Born to Kill nearly 20 years later is a trip.
You’ll be supporting the release of this EP with a tour. When will you be in Ottawa and what can fans expect from this tour?
We start in early February and will be playing Beautiful Midnight in sequence from front to back. We’ll be in Ottawa playing at the NAC
on March 16th.
Do you still get a thrill from touring? As an aside, sorry for the silent fans at the last Ottawa show – we’re very shy.
I’m used to it, but, as you know, outside of BC, Ottawa was my first market! You guys go back to Symbolistic White Walls. In Toronto it got no play, but in Ottawa it was a hit song. I’ve played everywhere in Ottawa that you could possibly play.
Having been to Ottawa before,
what do you like best about the city?
To be honest, it gets to be more of an in and out thing over the years. When you’re younger you go in and play at Barrymore’s and have the day to walk around. These days, especially at the NAC, the bus parks underneath, you get a nap, wake up at 1:00pm, do a sound check, eat dinner, play, get back on the bus and go to bed. So it’s pretty fast. But Ottawa is a great town. Doing things like Bluesfest in the summer is lovely!
You’re very open with your struggles with mental health. You posted an amazing story on Twitter in 2014 about a fan whose life you saved. She had reached out to you through Facebook because she was thinking about taking her life. Tell us about that story and the value of speaking about your struggles with mental health.
Yeah. I called her and spoke with her all the way to the hospital. I mean, what do you do? It’s just simple. To me, there’s no other option. If someone is in that position you don’t leave them hanging.
I think it’s important to talk about mental health. I mean, why wouldn’t I? It’s something that’s affected me from the day I was born. I wouldn’t find out about it until I was 35-years-old, as far as a diagnosis, but it’s affected me since I was born. So of course I want to talk about it. It’s no different than someone who has colon cancer and talks about it trying to raise awareness. Of course the difference is that what I suffer from has a massive stigma surrounding it. It’s part of me and I’m not going to hide from it.