Take 5 with singer/songwriter Matt the Electrician

13 Jun

Matt “the Electrician” Sever is perhaps one of the most interesting singer/songwriters I’ve had yet to encounter.  Hailing from the bustling metropolis of Austin, TX, Matt began work as a “journeyman electrician” during the day and while playing shows at night until eventually pursuing music full-time.  However, the name “Matt the Electrician” stuck.  (To fully appreciate the story, read it yourself on the “Story” page of Matt’s website.) Apparently the full-time musician thing worked for Matt because he has just released his seventh studio album, Accidental Thief, which is a fantastic blend of sounds, instruments, and lyrical prowess.  I’ve been enjoying Matt’s fine melodies day in and day out since receiving his album, and I love it!  So, naturally, I was excited when Matt took time out of his day to Take 5 with Backseat Writer answering his question IN ALL CAPS.  I think it adds a certain effect to this interview.

 Accidental Thief is your seventh studio album. How has your music changed since that debut album?

I THINK THE BIGGEST CHANGE OVER THE YEARS HAS HAD TO DO WITH MY ABILITY TO EXPRESS MYSELF IN WORDS THE WAY THAT I WANT TO.  I’M CONSTANTLY BEING INSPIRED BY THE WRITERS AND MUSICIANS AROUND ME, AND THAT GROUP OF PEOPLE HAS EXPANDED MORE AND MORE OVER THE YEARS, AND I THINK THE BENEFIT OF THAT IS ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS.

My absolute favorite song on your album is “I Will Do The Breathing.” The whole concept of the song, the lyrics, the melody—it’s remarkable. What inspired you to write this song?

MY WIFE’S FATHER PASSED AWAY A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, AFTER BEING SICK FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS, AND IT WAS REALLY HARD ON HER AND HER FAMILY, AND A VERY COMPLICATED SITUATION ON TOP OF THAT.  MY WIFE IS A VISUAL ARTIST, AND SHE BEGAN CREATING A SERIES OF DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS THAT WERE BASED AROUND IMAGES OF A DEEP SEA DIVER MASK AND FEATHERS, AMONG OTHER THINGS.  THROUGHOUT THAT PROCESS, AND IT’S STILL FAIRLY FRESH EVEN NOW, I’VE JUST BEEN TRYING TO BE THERE FOR HER, IN WHATEVER WAY I CAN.

THE VERSES ARE ABOUT WATCHING HER DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS, AND IN THE CHORUS, I BORROWED SOME OF THE IMAGERY FROM HER ARTWORK, TO LET HER KNOW THAT I WAS THERE.  BUT WHEN I FINISHED THE CHORUS, I FELT THAT IT SOUNDED A LITTLE ARROGANT, LIKE I COULD SOMEHOW SAVE HER, AND MAKE EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT.  AND THE MORE I THOUGHT ABOUT THAT, THE MORE I REALIZED THAT IT WASN’T JUST ME, BUT A WHOLE COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT WERE THERE FOR HER.  AND EVEN WITHIN ME, IT’S REALLY ONLY BECAUSE I HAVE SUCH A GREAT SUPPORT GROUP AND NETWORK OF FRIENDS THAT I’M ABLE TO BE STEADY FOR HER.  SO I HAD AS MANY OF MY FRIENDS COME AND SING ON THE LAST CHORUS.  IT WAS MY WAY OF SAYING THAT IT’S NOT JUST ME, IT’S ALL OF HER FRIENDS AND FAMILY, BUT ALSO, ALL OF MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

“All I Know” is the first music video from Accidental Thief.  Isn’t it great?
 
 

Another one of my faves on Accidental Thief is the title track. Tell me about it.

I CO-WROTE THAT SONG WITH JOHN ELLIOTT, A FANTASTIC SONGWRITER FROM LOS ANGELES.  IT STARTED MORE LITERALLY.  JOHN HAD ACTUALLY, ACCIDENTALLY STOLEN SOME SUNGLASSES–PICKED THEM UP IN A STORE, SHOPPED AROUND, AND THEN WALKED OUT WITHOUT THINKING.  HE SAID HE HAD WANTED TO WRITE A SONG ABOUT AN ACCIDENTAL THIEF.  ONCE WE STARTED WRITING, IT QUICKLY TURNED MORE METAPHORICAL, AND BECAME MORE ABOUT A GUY (SOMEONE WHO JOHN AND I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN IN OUR YOUNGER YEARS)…AND THIS GUY, WELL, HE’S KIND OF A JERK.  BUT HE DOESN’T MEAN TO BE.  AND HE SEEMS TO BE PRETTY SELF-CENTERED.  BUT HE’S NOT SORRY.  BUT I DON’T THINK HE HONESTLY KNOWS, IN THE MOMENT, WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE HE’S DOING. I THINK WE JUST WANTED THERE TO BE SOME SORT OF EMPATHY FOR HIM, ALTHOUGH MAYBE HE DOESN’T DESERVE IT.  BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, OR A RELATIONSHIP, IT IS WHAT IT IS.  IS THAT VAGUE ENOUGH?

You personally play a lot of instruments on this album, including banjo, trumpet, alto horn, banjo, Wurlitzer (fun to say), air organ, guitars, piano, toy piano (what?!), and glockenspiel (also fun to say.) While this makes for an assortment of fun musical sounds, what was it like learning all these instruments? (And how long have you been playing the glockenspiel?)

SADLY, I HAVE NOT “LEARNED” ALMOST ANY OF THEM, BUT I CERTAINLY HAVE FUN EXPERIMENTING IN THE STUDIO.  I DO PLAY SEVERAL BRASS INSTRUMENTS, AND HAVE BEEN PLAYING THE TRUMPET SINCE I WAS 5 YEARS OLD, SO I WILL TAKE CREDIT FOR KNOWING WHAT I’M DOING IN THOSE PARTS.  HOWEVER, I’M A HORRIBLE PIANO PLAYER.  AS A MUSIC MAJOR IN COLLEGE, I FAILED MY PIANO COMPETENCY TEST 6 SEMESTERS IN A ROW.

Now, onto our final question…what’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

MY CHILDREN, ON A DAILY BASIS.

For more information on Matt the Electrician, visit his online hub at MattTheElectrician.com, where you can connect with him on all your favorite social networking sites.  And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Accidental Thief and a couple of Matt’s other albums while you’re there.

{With thanks to Matt Sever and  Tim Broun at The Musebox for my review copy of Accidental Thief and making this Take 5 possible!}

Readers, what do you think of Matt the Electrician?  Do you love his as much as me?  What did you think of the “All I Know” video?  Guys, are you going to grow a beard like Matt’s?  Can you play the glockenspiel?  Chime in, folks, that’s what the comments section is for!

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2 Responses to “Take 5 with singer/songwriter Matt the Electrician”

  1. Jen June 13, 2011 at 10:22 AM #

    Hmm… Never heard of him, but this sounds like something I’d dig. (toy pianos and glockenspiels!) I’ll have to give him a listen. Yay new discoveries!

  2. John Mayer June 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

    Great read! I’ve been a long-time lover of Matt’s music (as one who actually does play the glockenspiel) and can’t wait to hear the new record.

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