My ears are still ringing from the fireworks that were going off all weekend for 4th of July here in the USA. Its all good though as my guest today will replace that ringing with the smooth & melodic sound of Matthew Meadows on the guitar. Matthew Meadows is a programmer, musician, and retired classical dancer living outside of Seattle, WA. I caught on to Matt after hearing his album Etherati which he impressively does all the vocals & instrumentals. With songs like “The Turk” and “The Mistress” I had to have him on Skope. Join us as Matthew Meadows speaks on everything from his album, the troops, playing guitar, and much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and what does Memorial Day mean to you?
Matthew Meadows: I’m here at Etherati Command & Control, Lynwood Station, more commonly known as my basement in suburban Seattle.
Regarding Memorial Day, as much as I enjoy spending time with my family, I can’t imagine a more sobering occasion to do so. But I think it’s important that we stop and reflect on the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, not just for the sanctity of the memories of the people who made them, but also to have empathy for their families. Because when they all sit down for dinner to celebrate at least one person will be notably absent.
I’ve never served in the military and I’ve never lost anybody close to me in a war, but I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like for those who have. 10 years ago after 9/11 I found myself wishing that I was a younger man so that I could respond to the attacks in a meaningful way. At that time I wrote a song from that vantage, American Style, that narrates the things I would have said to my parents and the things I would have hoped to accomplish, which included going to Afghanistan, training as a sniper, heading off to Pakistan and finishing the war with a single shot. I’m not interested in promoting that song because the only recordings I have of it are marginal live takes and I’ve promised some folks that are serving right now that I’ll do a studio version of it. They deserve as much. However, the old recordings are posted on ReverbNation for those very same people so it shouldn’t take anybody long to find them if they’re interested.
Stoli: Who in your life had the most impact on you to pursue music like you do?
Matthew Meadows: Around the time I started playing guitar I was training every day as a classical dancer. My instructors at that time were two dancers from Joffrey Ballet, Bob Estner and Charthel Arthur, and they were artists in the true sense of the word. They made a point of stressing discipline to develop technique, but also made sure that we understood the importance of being mindful and deliberate in everything we did. That’s the difference between doing something impressive, like a gymnast, versus doing something meaningful, like a dancer. I’ve tried to carry that forward in my music, but it’s an elusive goal and I’m not the kind of guitarist that can pull it off easily. You’d need a combination of Mark Knopfler and Yngwie Malmsteem to do that and such a creature does not exist. But it’s what I’m listening for as I comb through the hours of psycho-acoustic sewage and mindless drivel that comprises the vast majority of takes I lay down.
Stoli: Your new album ‘Etherati’ is getting great reviews. How long were you writing & recording that album?
Matthew Meadows: Those recordings were pretty much the soundtrack of my life for the better part of 18 months, from around the time I met my girlfriend Kim to the time I decided I wanted to marry her. I intended to include at least one more acoustic song in the interest of symmetry but it never happened. I lost somebody very close to me, somebody who was part of the process and knew intimately the details of every track on the album. So I parked it for a few months, and then in December of 2010 I decided to release what I had.[youtube keQbJepSj7M nolink]
Stoli: How did living outside Seattle, WA help shape the sound of your music if at all?
Matthew Meadows: That’s a great question, and honestly I’m not really sure. Certainly the impact of moving here from Austin is reflected in the music. But I had one reviewer claim that my music had too much of the Seattle sound in it which I found to be disingenuous. I don’t even know what the Seattle sound is these days. Is it still Nirvana and Pearl Jam? I doubt it but I don’t know for a fact because I’ve only gone out and listened to music a few times in the 5 years since I moved here. I’m a Microsoft programmer (the hours are legendary) and a father and a musician. It doesn’t leave much time for fun, unfortunately, so those criticisms are still floating around out there unchallenged. I’ll leave it to the listener to decide for themselves.
Stoli: At what age did you fall in love and learn to play the guitar?
Matthew Meadows: I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 15. My sister had an old Yamaha classical guitar buried in a closet. I distinctly remember the first day I played it, a hot summer day, sitting on my front porch in Michigan. I must have fallen in love with it right away because I’ve been playing ever since despite the fact that it seemed impossibly difficult at the time. Still does sometimes. I wrote my first song a few weeks later.
Stoli: I love your song “The Mistress.” What is that song about & when was it written?
Matthew Meadows: Thank you, I’m really glad you enjoyed it. The Mistress is a character from the rogue’s gallery of my mind, one member of a cast that includes The Turk and The Ringmaster. She’s as seductive as she is cruel. Of course character studies through music can be taken to any depth, and I would encourage the reader to attend an evening at the ballet to hear it done well, but this one is deliberately sparse. Given the sensual nature of her character I think it’s better left to the listener to fill out the details of her personality.
Having said that, it’s no secret that Kim is my muse and the inspiration for much of the album. She helped develop the imagery and the concept and her likeness is actually hidden in some of the cover art. I should also point out that she’s incredibly sexy and I am the luckiest man alive :-D.
Stoli: Do you make music for fortune and fame or is it a lifelong passion?
Matthew Meadows: Given that I’m still working on the fortune and fame part and that I’ve spent countless thousands of dollars on gear and promotions, I think I need to redirect that question to my therapist. I’m not really sure why I’m doing but I’d rather fail spectacularly than stop so I’m just going with it for now.
Stoli: What brand guitar do you pefer to play and how do you keep your skills sharp?
Matthew Meadows: My favorite guitar is typically the one on my lap at the time of the question. At this moment it’s my black Les Paul Custom. Can’t get enough of that ebony fretboard.
Stoli: Do you feel the Internet has been good or bad for the independent artist?
Matthew Meadows: As a programmer and a musician I view it as nothing short of amazing. Using a computer and some guitars from my basement in Seattle I have already reached millions of people and it’s only been a few months. And I’m just getting started. The potential is hard to comprehend.
Stoli: You do all the vocals and instrumentals. What is the advantage to that and does it get lonely?
Matthew Meadows: I’m not sure there’s any advantage, that remains to be seen. If there is one it probably has to do with the fact that I never need to compromise in the interest of someone else’s feelings. If record something that I don’t like, which happens more often than not, I have no reservations about deleting it and trying again, all night long, for days on end. Lather, rinse, repeat. As for being lonely, never. Kim and I have a beautiful family with 4 children between the two of us. Between that, my job as a programmer, and my network of friends, my cup runneth over and over and over, 24/7. The greatest challenged I’ve faced has in fact been finding enough time to myself to record.
Stoli: Living in Seattle, WA are you at all concerned about the situation in Japan’s Fukushima plant?
Matthew Meadows: No, but I’m terribly concerned about the people that live there. I watched the situation unfold with a detached sense of horror until the moment I realized that I had a lot of new friends for whom it was very real. That story is still being written, and the magnitude of the disaster will not be fully understood for generations to come.
Stoli: What is coming up for Matthew Meadows and where you at online?
Matthew Meadows: The future for me is circling around under the dusty spotlight of The Middle Ring, my next recording project. I’ve spent the last two months working on the lead song and developing the album concept and now I’m looking to secure some 3rd party financing so I can execute on my vision. I’m talking to some of the best producers in the world, guys whose ears are so finely tuned they turn everything they touch into gold, in order to help me make it happen. I may just be dreaming, but ultimately I’d like to bring the entire thing to life as a stage show, pulling together my experience as a ballet dancer, musician, and computer programmer. I was recently asked where I saw myself in two years, to which I responded “in London at the world premiere of my next album, sharing the stage with a team of outstanding musicians”. Of course I was (mostly) joking, but I did make a mental note to myself that I need to get a passport just in case my wish was granted. In fact, I’m hopelessly optimistic, so let’s just plan on seeing each other there. Sick, huh? Until then you can catch me Facebook, buy my music on iTunes, and occasionally catch me in the chat room over at Reputation Media during their weekly radio shows. Hope to see you there!