We sat down with incredible solo alternative artist Matt Maeson ahead of his performance at Firefly 2022 to talk about his most recent release Never Had to Leave, touring, mental health & living the dream.
Soundigest: Who are you excited to see today?
Matt Maeson: I didn’t get to see the lineup for yesterday and tomorrow because we’re gonna leave late tonight, but today I’m gonna stick around and see Wolf Alice, I’m gonna see Isaiah Rashad, I wanted to see Benny The Butcher, but he’s going on at the same time, and then we’ll probably stick around for Green Day.
SD: With your upbringing it’s clear music is in your blood, was it always a dream career for you?
MM: Yeah, when I was a kid I wanted to either be like a rockstar or a professional skateboarder. And you get hurt doing one more than the other…eh kinda…but I started playing guitar when I was like 15 and I started writing. I started on drums when I was really young, but I didn’t pick up a guitar and start writing songs until about 15, and once I started doing it I was like “this is what I’m meant to do and what I wanna do.”
SD: Never Had to Leave came out last month and it has some incredibly personal songs, what does your writing process look like to get to that space?
MM: So that’s kind of the thing with that record; it’s no specific headspace because it took so long to write and it was so many periods of recording because of COVID. It was like, we would go a few months without getting in the studio, and I’d be writing in that time, but there were so many different kinds of periods through those three years of different emotions. Periods of depression, periods where I was really happy, periods where I was really lonely, things like that so because of that I think that’s what made this record so eclectic and manic in a way. Every song on it that you hear was written in that space and that’s how I was feeling in life so it kind of bounces all over the place. And I really love that because it kind of puts those three years into one thing for me and I’m able to look at it and it’s very cathartic and therapeutic to have discussed these things with myself through music.
SD: The video for “Blood Runs Red” has some really dark moments and some really joyful moments, how involved in the creative process of that video were you?
MM: So I cowrote the treatment for that with my buddy Jesse Deflorio; the idea was to kind of express what it felt like being on tour on the inside and doing it with an outward thing hence the mask, because we toured for about 3 years off and on and you develop all of these creature comforts and vices and you kind of turn into a different person if you’re not cautious about how you’re living your life. Keeping yourself grounded, keeping people around you that are keeping you humbled too because you know, you have thousands of people singing your praises every night so it’s really easy to get lost in that. I wanted to try and exemplify what I felt like after that 3 years which is pretty trashed and done for. And then you have to go to your wife’s dad’s birthday party and it’s just like nobody really cares what you do there so it’s a weird dynamic and I wanted to try and express that in a visual way. I really like what we came up with.
SD: Also have to ask, because one of the clips features everyone jamming out to Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” are you team Noel or team Liam?
MM: I think I’m Liam, he’s the less pushy one, right?
SD: I think so, I know it’s a divisive question.
MM: Haha, I know, right?
SD: Throwing it back to Bank on the Funeral, what was it like having Lana Del Rey hop on “Hallucinogenics”?
MM: That was so cool, she just cold messaged me when I was on tour and said that she loved “Cringe,” and she wanted me to fly out to one of her shows and sing that with her at the show and I was like “yes of course that’s crazy.” So we found a day off in my tour where I flew out to Oklahoma to do that with her and then when I got there we had like 30 minutes to soundcheck and I’m playing the song with her band who’s never played it before and then all of a sudden she’s like “Actually, I wanna do ‘Hallucinogenics’ with you and then you can do ‘Cringe’ just by yourself with my band” and I was like alright! And her band learned it like that. And then we did “Hallucinogenics” and then throughout a period of 6 months we hit her team up like 3 times asking if she would want to be on a remix of it because it was doing really well at radio and we wanted to do another version of it and finally one day they hit us back and were like “yeah she’s in the studio right now send it over”, she tracked it that day.
SD: You titled your EP Who Killed Matt Maeson and in the past you’ve talked about how parts of yourself had to die to get through that, so who or what would you say saved Matt Maeson?
MM: My wife and my son are definitely the most grounding things in my life right now, but also me! I think I learned a lot in these last few years. I reacted in some really negative ways, but also some really good ways and starting to go to therapy really helped me get my head on straight, start caring about my body more, what I’m eating, or how much I’m sleeping or consuming media wise. I think a lot of things helped get me to the place that I am now which is kind of the best I’ve ever felt.
SD: If you could build yourself a stage band with whoever you wanted, dead or alive, who would be up there with you?
MM: Jeez, man I would say Jeff Buckley playing guitar and doing some vocals, I would say, honestly, the drummer I have right now is like my favorite, he’s one of my favorite people, but he’s such a sick drummer that I don’t want to replace him with anybody. His name’s Tyler Johnson, by the way. You know who would be crazy on drums though? Anderson .Paak, he is ridiculous, also Brittany Howard’s whole band is next level.
SD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MM: We’re on tour, we’ve got another month and a half of tour going. Some of the dates are sold out, some have tickets. We’re two dates in, and then we’re doing today, and it’s going really well. It’s really fun and we’ll be doing some more stuff next year!
Grab tickets to catch Matt Maeson on the Never Had to Leave tour and check out Never Had to Leave on all streaming platforms now!