There are some performers who always seem to be high energy, some who just take it over the top, and then there’s Matt and Kim. The wildly popular indie-pop duo embodies all of the high-energy, over-the-top-nature but to an extent that most bands only ever really sing about. For their latest tour, Matt and Kim decided to focus on their 2009 sophomore album “Grand” to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. The record will be played in its entirety while also including a few more of the duo’s incredibly dynamic repertoire. Matt Johnson sat down with Metro to chat about the tour, the meaning behind celebrating “Grand,” and why overall being on stage brings out the most colorful part of their personalities.
Matt Johnson on Matt and Kim’s sophomore serenade with their latest tour
This tour is quite unique, you are playing your sophomore album “Grand” in its entirety to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, what was so special to you about this particular album?
Some people say bands hit a sophomore slump with their second album, where with our first album there was no fanfare. So we strategically put out a mediocre first album and an amazing second album, it was all planned. But no, all jokes aside our first album was just rushed, we only had about a week in the studio for that. But with”Grand,” we just wanted to spend as much time as we could on it. We had decided to record it ourselves in the bedroom in my parent’s house, and I had no idea what I was doing. I mean we were Googling “How to record music.” We had no expectations that it was going to be anything larger than what we had done in the past, I mean enough so that we didn’t hire a professional to make it. But I think in that whole thing, it gave us a ton of freedom to spend the time and figure out what we want to sound like and what we should sound like. When you’re not trying to make a single and you’re just trying to make songs that make you really happy, I think special things come out of that. It was the right place and the right time, and it completely changed our lives. So we had to honor it— other than Kim it has been the biggest influence in my life.
What does this particular nostalgic sort of set up bring for fans who are coming out to see the show?
I remember we went into the studio with Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, right after they had done a “Pinkerton” reunion show. He had even had mixed feelings on that album when it came out, but he said it was so awesome to just have everyone there knowing what they’re gonna get— just audiences wanting this one thing and giving it to them. To me, the most enjoyment we get out of playing is an excited audience. I sometimes hear about these bands that won’t play a big single of theirs, and I just think that’s insane. If my audience wanted to hear “Daylight” fifteen times in a row, I would enjoy giving that to them if it made them happy. Does that say anything about how I have sex too? Who knows. But also that album is only 28 minutes, so we have a whole other hour to play anything else across the entire board. I take a lot of pride in ourselves as performers and songwriters, and Kim is the most amazing drummer, especially to watch. It’s just all about making people excited.
Is “Grand” an ideal album for new fans to dive into to get to know you guys?
Absolutely. I mean, but the thing we still always do is amp everything up a bit. We are part of this world where we are lucky enough to be involved in festivals or any of these DJ electronic events, and I think we handle our set more like a DJ would than an Indie band. Even if you don’t know any of these songs, I think we try to open a lot of windows for you to come in and it all feels familiar. That’s been part of us being a festival band for all of these years. It’s just how we like to orchestrate it. The “Grand” album is also still quintessentially us. There are some bands that evolve or mature or whatever—- for us, our sound will change from album to album, but then we go back. I think it’s certainly not for just Matt and Kim fans. I take pride in all of the things we’ve done, I really want anybody to be able to enjoy it. I know I have a, what you would call, polarizing voice almost in a Modest Mouse kind of way. Some people really connect to it, it’s distinctly us. But when people come to the show, they learn to love us in a whole other way.
You had taken a year off from touring due to Kim’s injury, was that a time to reflect? Did that maybe play a part in framing the tour this way as well?
There was certainly some reflection over that year. I’ve been touring my entire adult life, and it really made me think about a time where I don’t get to do this anymore because I never really had that perspective. It just made me think how I don’t want that time to come. But we were on the fence, we knew the 10 year anniversary was coming up, but we didn’t know if it would make everyone feel old remembering that they loved it back when they were 23 and now they’re in their 30s or whatever. But we realized two things: This 10-year mark only comes up once, and probably by the 20-year mark we’re all going to be dead anyway with how things are going so we have to get it in now. But in all seriousness, it became clear that if we don’t do this now, we’ll probably never get to do it again. This album just meant too much to us, as far as definitive albums that changed our career, that was the one.
Since you guys do always jam out every single show, what do you like the most about getting to perform live in front of audiences?
When an audience is going wild, jumping up and down, singing along— I think it’s the same type of energy when a comedian really makes an audience laugh. There are some bands who are very thoughtful, very Radiohead types, which is great, but people are probably just bobbing their heads and are mainly feeling the music internally—- I could never do that. It would be like a comedian having no one laugh. So when we get that energy, it’s totally the reason why we do it. It comes over us you know. Like why do we end up taking our shirts off on stage? Especially at a show in the middle of the Winter? But I get so wrapped up in it, and it really is a high that I’m so thankful to get. So whenever we’re on the road, it’s just getting that juice from the energized audience, which I think is what brings us back.
To learn more about Matt and Kim’s tour dates visit mattandkimmusic.com