|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Good, the Band and the Matthew
By Dave McPherson
The Matthew Good Band began in Vancouver several years ago and lately has seen its stock steadily rise in the musical waters. In an industry where it is often sink or swim financially and those left treading water do not last long, the MGB is causing major waves across the country. In 1996, Billboard magazine's Canadian editor, Larry Leblanc, named Matthew Good the "Canadian to watch."
The band released Last of the Ghetto Astronauts independently in 1995 an album which has sold over 20,000 copies to date. This album is in-your-face pop rock featuring driving guitars. Good's vocals emote a sense of urgency in the band's delivery. He says the album was written just after the end of the Cold War and dealt with "the ghost and the machine."
"A lot of that record was written about the end of the world and my state of mind from '89-'91," he says. "I am a big history buff and that album reflected my feelings regarding how life on earth is mapped."
Good was surprised at the success of the album and hopes that following one bad, short-lived record deal, the band will continue its successful musical ride.
"The last year has been a roller-coaster ride," he explains. "We signed with Private [a BMG subsidiary label in the United States] and they were amalgamated and suddenly we were on an easy listening label."
Following this setback, the band decided to go ahead and record its next album independently setting out to produce what Good describes as "the most expensive indie record ever made." Fortunately for the band, A&M Records approached them regarding a record deal. The group was impressed with the tight-knit make-up of this label and the musical freedom it gave them.
There comes a time in the career of most young successful bands when it has to decide whether to remain independent or to seek the financial backing a major record deal provides. Sometimes this venture is risky, as a band could find itself just another flavour of the month. Other times, however, this natural progression is beneficial for both parties.
"The only difference between being independent and being signed to a major label is in terms of promotion," he says. "We roll into a town and there are record executives that take care of things like our press schedules."
As a songwriter, Good describes himself as an "observationalist." He feels in today's complex world, it is hard not to be moved. "You could call me a voyeur of the world's ridiculousness," he says. "Everything is inspiration for my muse the commercialization of things and the overwhelming stupidity of things breeding distress, hope and despair all wrapped into some package."
Good is careful, however, to ensure he does not preach in his songs; he tries to make his lyrics universal so every listener can relate. "I think it is important to mask the message," he says. "So listeners can take it and apply it to themselves that ultimately is the goal."
The first single and video from the band's major label debut, underdogs, epitomizes this sense of bewilderment and confusion that today's fast-paced environment breeds. On the track "Automatic," Good asks the listener, "Do you miss your lazy boy/ do you miss your TV/ do you miss yourself/ everybody's all right/ everything is automatic." Good reveals this song is basically about, "things being hurled at you a million times a second and the idea that if you want to lose weight you can go out and get it sucked out of you."
Another standout track from underdogs is the opening song called "Deep Six." The inspiration for this song came one day when Good was flipping channels and happened to catch an interview with the pompous leader of Oasis, Noel Gallagher. Gallagher was espousing his profound musical philosophy that all rock 'n' roll is about is partying and getting drunk. Good responded to this attitude by wondering, "Does this guy live on the same planet as I do?"
Whatever planet he lives on, Good knows that as a musician he can make a small difference. He feels kids today take a 'laissez-faire' approach to life and do not really care. The new album is called underdogs for this reason.
"It just seems that lately kids in their 20's have taken a really lackadaisical approach to their lives, as if what they do won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things."
What does matter is Good's music. It is honest, pure and unfiltered songwriting that should be taken seriously. And, when the day is done, while Good is quick to criticize the attitudes of many Generation Xer's, it is his own satisfaction that really matters.