Gifted singer songwriter Matt Nathanson released his powerfully addicting new album, Last of the Great Pretenders, in July and it is receiving rave reviews from critics and fans alike. The new record is the follow up release to 2011’s Modern Love and boasts a slew of unforgettable tracks, which expose Nathanson in a beautiful new, deeper, more personal light. The album is essentially a six month glimpse into Nathanson’s life in San Francisco, beginning on July 4th with the title track "Earthquake Weather," and running through New Year’s Eve with the closing song "Farewell, December". Nathanson is currently on tour in support of this dynamic new album and hits Denver on Tuesday, October 8 at the Gothic Theater. I was lucky enough to chat with the talented musician who graciously opened up about the new record, moving out of his comfort zone, and his love of Denver.
How do you like performing in Denver? Do you notice the altitude?
I love Denver- great food, great record stores, audiences who are super heroes because of living their life deprived of the oxygen that the rest of us mortals need to survive. It's a blast! And yes, I get winded two lines into the first song, but the altitude is part of the glory. It's like playing Everest.
Your new album Last of the Great Pretenders is superb. What was your goal for the record?
The goal was to make a record where I didn't pull any punches. Lyrically, I wanted to stop trying to manage how I was perceived and just be who I am- the good and the ugly. That’s why I started the record with that line, "I'd kill anyone who'd treat you as bad as I do". Straight talk.
What conscious changes did you make to change or depart from your past records?
Just took the "how people perceive you" assassin and locked him into the trunk. In the past I could have a tendency to write music that was self-conscious, that could be trying too hard to put forth only part of who I am. I felt like all the records I love do the opposite of that. All the classic albums that changed my life come from a very non self-conscious place. I think music deserves that kind of total honesty. So I fought my brain and tried to let that happen as much as possible.
Were there any songs on the album that you weren't sure of in the beginning, or you thought should maybe be reserved for a different record?
I was a bit freaked out by the track of "Kinks Shirt". The stuff that sounded great about it, when I got my judgment cap on, felt kind of way out of my comfort zone. It took me a while to come around to it but it ended up being my favorite song on the record. That seems to always be the way, though; discomfort equals pushing yourself, and pushing yourself is always the way to go.
My favorite song on the record is "Kill The Lights". What is the story behind it? How has it changed over time?
That's really just a carnal song. The idea of leaving your anxiety and fears outside the bedroom door and just giving in to the glory of someone else.
What is the strangest thing to ever inspire a song?
"Kinks Shirt," on the new record, is about a waitress who I had a huge crush on. In and of itself that's not weird, but the fact that some of my fans have sought her- and the diner she works in- out to get a photo, is the part that's a little strange (and flattering).
You have been in the music industry a long time and a lot has changed. Is it a better industry to be a part of now, or when you first broke in?
The industry is better now because there are way fewer gatekeepers. Before it was all about pleasing some joker who didn't know anything about what was good so that he or she could greenlight their label to pay for and promote your music. These days, it's not like that. You can reach your fans easily and great songs can be promoted and spread without having to kiss anyone's ass. We are definitely still in the between stages...the death of the old model and the rise of the new, but these are exciting times now. It's like the real wild, wild west. It feels way more organic this way.
You have to cover someone else's album from start to finish. What album would you choose and why?
If you could have anyone in the world as the #1 fan of your music, who would it be and why?
Don’t miss Matt Nathanson performing with special guest Joshua Radin at the Gothic on Tuesday, October 8. Doors for the all ages show open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $29.50 in advance or $32.00 at the door.