Interview: Matthew E. White
Published on September 3rd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Matthew E. White headlines the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire tomorrow night – so, since his Big Inner album is among the finest Rocksucker has heard this year, we thought it’d be a downright dereliction of duty not to collar him for an interview.
Speaking just after his performance at End of the Road festival, we asked Matthew about the LP – which by the way will be reissued on October 21st along with five new tracks, all under the title Big Inner: Outer Face Edition – and the Spacebomb Records label/collective he operates with the modern-day rarity that is a house band…
How was End of the Road festival? Which other festivals have you played this summer, and which were your favourites and/or personal highlights?
EOTR was amazing. It started raining before the set and I wasn’t sure anyone was going to be there. Then we walked out and it was packed! One of my favourite shows so far for sure, very special. Roskilde, that was another really killer one – Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Latitude, we’ve played a bunch, they’ve all been really great.
Why did you decide to impose restrictions on yourself (eg. no horns) for the five new songs?
Being clear about your goals is always helpful when you’re approaching a project, deciding not only what you want but what you don’t want. That’s nothing new, and not particular to this EP for sure. As there always are, there were some practical restrictions, in this case it was mainly time, so I limited the number of elements significantly to be able to spend time with each.
That’s probably what’s most unique to this project: the sheer lack of sound sources. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to really dig in to each element. They were each things that I’ve been thinking about a lot, so getting a chance to really lean on them was really nice. It helped open some doors.
Do you have material in mind for another solo album? If so, will that be your next project?
Absolutely. Big Inner was recorded very, very early in 2011 so I’ve been itching to get in the studio for quite some time. Spacebomb’s always busy working on things and since I’ve been gone so much there is some catching up to do, mixing and mastering Spacebomb projects, as well as getting some new ones on the calendar.
That said, outside of the regular Spacebomb schedule, the next record will be my next project for sure.
Do you think you will do a dub version of Big Inner, as mentioned?
Probably not, unfortunately. There are a couple tracks floating around that I did but I’m not sure they will see the light of day! I wanted to, but things kinda took off in a way that kept me away from my studio.
Next time, I’m going to push hard to do it – it’s important to me to work on that process, it’s a really deep thing that I really love.
How did Domino pick the album up?
You know, it’s funny, it was the friend of a friend. I took some photographs with a fellow whose wife worked there and the record kinda got passed up the ladder I suppose. It was very organic.
When you’re 18 a friend of a friend might be able to get you a gig at a bar down the street, if you stay in the game long enough a friend of a friend might pass on your record to Domino and you sign a record contract.
Will Spacebomb be limited to recording the songs of a select few musicians – say, those in the house band – or are you accepting business from external parties?
We are limited of course, there’s only so much time, but we are open to pretty much anything that fits with what we do in a special way. We’ve already recorded several more things and none of them are projects from within our community at all. Look out for a 7-inch this fall from a fellow I like to call Howard Ivans. It’s special, SPECIAL stuff.
How closely did you work alongside the Mountain Goats when arranging their Transcendental Youth album?
John was very cool in as such he left me to do all the arranging on my own. He basically sent the tracks over and told me to go to town. We all went to the studio in North Carolina where he recorded the record and did the session days together, that was a blast. But as far as the arrangements, I was free to go my own way.
Is it true you tracked down Randy Newman and handed him your music? How did he react, and did you get any feedback?
Ha, it’s true I went to his house, rang the doorbell and talked to somebody, but I did not meet him. So, unfortunately, I did not get any feedback.
Will Fight the Big Bull ever rear its head again?
Yea, of course!
Finally, if you’ve had the time to be listening, which have been your favourite albums from 2013?
When did Kendrick Lamar’s record come out? That’s my favourite. I think that was 2012, let’s pretend it was 2013.
Matthew E. White, thank you.
Matthew E. White will headline London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday September 4th – click here to buy tickets.
Big Inner: Outer Face Edition will be released on October 21st by Domino.