Originally published on Toronto Social Review
Matt Pond PA and the Emblems Anniversary Tour is hitting up Toronto’s Virgin Mobile Mod Club on Thursday, May 8th. We sat down with Matt to figure out what this tour means, how he’s able to write such earthy, poetic pieces, and how you can start a conversation based on our Matt Facts below!
Congrats on reaching your funding goal for States of Gold! You mention in the video that making music isn’t a magic trick like people might think. How has making music changed for you since you started releasing stuff over 15 years ago, since it’s such a different industry?
In the beginning, people bought music. They didn’t just download it. They actually bought compact discs or singles, whatever we sold. And then there’s that whole internet thing.
That definitely happened.
Everything has changed about the process but it’s something that requires flexibility. Opening up to doing the pledge method wouldn’t have have been something I would have thought of even a couple years ago.
I like how the internet connects us with people and I like how it connects people to us. The better parts of the internet allow people to communicate. The worst parts allow people to be trolls… or worse. I appreciate the better side of the internet and I’m trying to work within in.
What can we expect from the new album?
We’re halfway there. I still have a few songs to write. What I like is that the whole process made me write like crazy. Instead of finishing songs, we just kept moving on to the next song. That’s exciting because for a few months I kind of had nothing to say in music. That’s scary when you love writing music and nothing’s coming to mind.
It was like musical writer’s block?
Yes. I’ve had it a few times and it’s the worst. That’s my favourite part of the whole process – writing the songs.
But we still have all this work of collaboration and some production and mixing. We have some deciding because we have about 25 songs to choose from.
Wow, that’s great! Do you have a big band on this tour or is it fairly low key?
It’s mostly me and Chris and other people will add in various places and various states. Another thing that’s changed about music is that you can do it on a computer. There’s a band called The Postal Service who mailed their music to each other and now it seems like there should be a band called The Internet… and that’s every band. Everybody does write remotely, and it’s pretty amazing.
It goes back to that ability to connect people. What’s it like in Bearsville New York where you recorded? It seems pretty remote. The opposite of connection.
We were in Bearsville until hat cabin got sold. Then we’re at a house in Kingston, New York. And now we’re practicing in Cleveland, Ohio. The cabin was remote and I don’t know if you experienced this winter but it was a heavy beast.
And it’s still seemingly ongoing!
We’re in the rain in Cleveland right now and I still have yet to feel that quintessential spring day which is always what I wait for. But there’s lots of green on the trees, so that’s good.
Well, when you get to Toronto, there’s no green on the trees… Sadly…
There better be. You have a week to get it together!
I will do my best! It seems like you moved around a lot during this next album. How does the change in atmosphere affect your music?
As long as I’m slightly isolated and able to put out all the outside noise of the outside world… The funny thing is that we were doing the pledge thing in the cabin in an isolated place but we were still so connected to people. It was a new experience. Usually I just shut everything out, but I had to let things in. And I like it to a degree, I just think that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world.
How Salinger of you.
He wrote some better book than my songs so…
It’s all relative, isn’t it?
I don’t know. When you talk about J.D. Salinger, he kind of hit the nail on the head a couple times.
Yes, I agree. I can’t not agree. On that note, let’s talk about what inspires you these days.
I think the fact that I still want to do this… It’s almost self-perpetuating. Chris and I both had our reservations about moving forward after last year. It was kind of a tough year. It felt good to take things into our own hands with the album and this tour to be slightly self-sufficient.
Not that you have to answer this, but was it tough because of where you were musically?
Personally, life wasn’t great. Music wasn’t great. Not that I didn’t like our last album but there were outside forces that weren’t so outside that were guiding us in the wrong direction.
In terms of the pledge thing and the tour we’re doing right now we have a lot more control and if we screw everything up then we’re the ones to blame.
Let’s talk about touring. Where’s the craziest or most interesting place you’ve ever played a show?
We’ve been all over. All shows by their nature are slightly crazy to me. You’re throwing yourself into an uncontrolled environment and you’re performing songs to the people there. Some people think I should be used to it at this point but it’s always new to me.
We’ve played so many crazy shows on top of all the craziest shows. I can’t tell the craziest stories, though, because those are the stories that stay inside the car.
Aw, I get it. It seems like your music comes from an organic and whimsical place. Does it?
I’m always thinking about how things aren’t perfect but that’s why they’re good and you juxtapose that with nature which doesn’t sit around and think about itself all the time. Our consciousness helps us progress, but to what end?
I want to communicate with people. I want to look for the commonalties. Not just plainness or boring things. I want to relate.
I admire that. That’s a good motivation.
With this tour marking the 10th anniversary of emblems, what does that mean to you?
It feels strange to mark time. In some ways it seems just yesterday and in some ways I have no recollection of writing that album or how it happened. I remember though. It was a part of moving to New York and in some way it was a part of taking myself seriously. Emblems is a big deal for me. It’s a little nerve wracking to try to play the whole thing as one piece. I’ve never played some of the songs in front of people.
I don’t ever play full albums. You play most of the album and then old songs. I’ve written almost a few hundred songs so I get a little lost with all of it.
A few hundred gems. And now for a little activity:
Or things you can ask Matt Pond about if you happen to run into him and require a conversation starter:
Favourite colour? Blue
Month? April and May
Drink? I don’t discriminate
Movie? The 400 Blows
Instrument? French horn
Time of day? Dusk
Pizza topping? Broccoli
Method of communication? Nothing at all
Silence is way underrated… When we drive I like absolute quiet.
Book? The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Plant? Birch tree
Person? Chris Anthony
Midnight snack? Doritos
Piece of clothing? Blue jeans
Poet? The Wild Iris by Louis Gluck
Website? The Gaurdian
City? If I say Toronto, do I win anything?
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Andrea Wrobel, Senior Staff Writer