One of the true pop artists of recent rock history, Matthew Sweet is back with Modern Art, his new album, which features the single “She Walks the Night.
After going unappreciated for much of the 80’s, Matthew Sweet was catapulted to fame in the early 90’s with his album Girlfriend. Singles like “Divine Intervention” and “Girlfriend” (the title track) were huge on rock radio and the supporting tour established Sweet and his backing band as an exciting live act. Hailed as one of the great pop-rock albums of the decade, Girlfriend finally gave Sweet the recognition he deserved.
Since then, Matthew Sweet has continued recording albums. His new album, Modern Art sees him further refining his craft, creating perfect three and a half minute pop gems. “She Walks the Night” sounds like classic Matthew Sweet, with its jangling guitars and catchy chorus.
Matthew Sweet also took the time to do a quick interview with MP3.com to talk about his album, so without further ado, here’s a bit about Modern Art from the man himself:
MP3: You recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of your album Girlfriend with a series of concerts where you played the album straight through. What was it like revisiting those songs?
MS: I think I kind of expected it to be weirder than it actually was. In a way, I don’t feel that I’m so different now. Doing all the songs, which we never did in the past, is a little daunting but we’ve been pulling it off.
MP3: Girlfriend is considered to be one of the great pop albums of the 90’s. Having just played it during your anniversary shows, how do you think the songs have aged? Where do they fit in today’s musical landscape?
MS: I think the songs have aged well. Where they fit in today’s landscape is hard to say, but I think at least some of them have a timeless feel. I guess someone from any timeframe could relate to the emotions and enjoy it.
MP3: You’re about to release you new album, Modern Art. How have your songwriting and recording processes changed over the past 20 years?
MS: I would say my process hasn’t changed that much over the years. If anything it’s a lot freer now,as I’m able to make records at home with little oversight! Really, I’ll try almost anything, in a song or in recording, so I am always changing things up a little.
MP3: In interviews you’ve said that the songs you wrote for Girlfriend were a result of your then recent divorce, and that the sense of depression you felt helped inspire your songwriting. What was the inspiration behind Modern Art?
MS: I would say general life anxiety, somewhere to put my feelings. Sometimes it is just for fun too.
MP3: I was just reading about how Kurt Cobain wrote many of the songs for Nevermind, which is also having its 20th anniversary this year, after breaking up with his girlfriend. You, Kurt Cobain and many others have written great songs as a means of coping with depression; do you think that the opposite is just as true – that great songs can be written from happiness?
MS: I think depression is a great place to start for songwriting, but yes I do believe there can be great songs written from happiness. A favorite song of mine that came from happiness is “I’ve been waiting” from girlfriend. So it CAN happen. But darkness is a strong force…
MP3: You’ve been recording music for a long time now, over 25 years, and things in the music industry have changed a great deal since you began. What aspects of being a musician in the 80s do you prefer over being a musician today?
MS: Well, there was a lot more vibrant music business back then, with room for lots of kinds of stuff. Tons of records sold. Bands and records were mysterious, as there was no internet, so it was hard to get info on things unless you knew someone or saw it in a magazine. We had to get by with a few fanzines.
MP3: Do you have any advice for kids these days who are trying to make it as musicians?
MS: Do it because you love music. Everything else may come and go. But if you really love doing music, you’ll stick with it.