Going to the concert of a band you don’t know can be a real harrowing experience. If you haven’t heard them before, you’re trying to digest something that might normally take three to four listens to fully appreciate. If you’ve heard of the band, but only know a couple songs, you’re in for a night where you can confidently nod your head to about 10% of what’s played. During the other 90%, you’re hoping no one calls you out for the fraud you are. All kidding aside, at most shows there’s a definite divide between those who want to be there, and those who just as well could’ve stayed home.
One of the few exceptions to this rule - shows put on by Brooklyn-based duo Matt and Kim. Their patented form of infectious, dance-inducing pop gets everyone within striking distance involved - whether they know every word or barely know a note. They’ve put out five albums of concert fodder filled with soaring melodies and high-powered percussion. Songs designed with the sole intention of keeping their concert-goer’s calf muscles in a constant state of contraction. Matt’s keys get their heels off the ground, while Kim’s drums send them crashing back down to earth – over, and over, and over again. It’s a self-inflicted workout their fans can’t seem to get enough of, and Matt and Kim are more than happy to oblige.
We were able to get a few minutes of Matt’s time earlier this month. He and Kim will be playing Bunbury in June, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the crazy things he sees while on stage, getting naked with Kim in a freezing cold Times Square, and where he slept when they recorded an album at his childhood home.
How’s the tour going so far?
It’s good, I mean, let’s reset that – it’s fucking great. It’s crazy, we’re on our fifth album, we’ve been traveling for a while, and just more and more people keep coming, you know? Almost every show’s sold out so far. I don’t know, it’s pretty rad. I can’t really believe it.
Well, that’s great news. You guys are in Denver tonight?
Are you there right now, or are you en route?
Nope, we’re here. Bus is parked outside. Little cold, little bit rainy. I’m eating some dry cereal under the covers.
Seeing as you’ll be taking the stage later tonight, do you and Kim have any pre-show rituals you go through?
For me, my stuffs pretty standard. I have to do a little vocal warm-up so I don’t lose my voice singing night after night. Kim, though, she certainly has rituals the most of which involve … most drummers warm up, and they have a practice pad and they warm up their wrists and all that. But Kim doesn’t do anything like that. She just puts on music and dances like she’s going to fight somebody. It’s crazy. I would think she’s preparing for an ultimate fighting match. I think she could’ve taken both Mayweather and Pacquiao combined in a dance-off at least.
Sure it would’ve been much better than the actual fight. Along the lines of high energy, your shows are pretty intense – both you and the crowd get really into it typically. What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen an audience member do while you were on stage?
I mean, there’s been a number of odd things. But I think one thing I always tend to bring up because it’s just common. I’ll just see crowd surfers as we’re playing just fall through the audience – no one catches them. I think if people looked at my face every time … it’s like, “Ooh! Can I keep playing? Are they ok?” Then I’ll see them just pop back up with a smile and a fist in the air. But sometimes when it really gets out of hand and a sort of pit area might open up in the middle, and it’s just eating people like some sort of black hole. Like some sort of quick sand, people are just sinking into it. But people seem to pop back out as excited as ever. Sometimes I’m like, “Can I keep playing? I don’t know?”
Sticking with the concert theme, who’s your favorite band to go see live?
I’m not sure consistently. I can almost pinpoint one of my favorite shows though, it was the Watch the Throne Tour with Kanye and Jay-Z. I mean, that one still sticks out to me. But I’m such a huge fan of both of them, and having them together playing all of their songs and the Watch the Throne album was insane. It’ll definitely stick with me.
Has your lyric writing process changed at all since the beginning? Is it still a collaborative effort where Kim writes random sentences, then you kind of piece it together from there?
We were a lot more stream of thought. This album actually was the first time where we, like, rather than that, we had a cohesive idea for basically each song going into it. Which was us just trying something new out, rather than that stream of thought, letting the song kind of tell us what it’s about. And it was fun and it was interesting, and it’s probably how most all songwriters write. “Oh, you have an idea, and then you write a song about it.” But for us, it was breaking new ground. So yeah, I guess maybe it has changed a little bit. I don’t know if we’ll go back and forth, but yeah.
You recorded your second album Grand in your childhood bedroom back in Vermont. The whole concept fits your sound perfectly. Where’d that idea come from?
Well we had done our first album in a studio in LA. And we had a very small amount of time to make it because as you know, there was no money to make it – especially back in those days. So all we knew going into our second album was that we didn’t want to be restricted. We wanted to be able to try whatever the hell we wanted to try. If we wanted to try a kazoo part, we were going to try a kazoo part. We weren’t going to worry that it was going to take up a couple hours and that it was going to cost however much money, etc. in the studio. So, I just thought, well where is the chillest place we can just figure this out ourselves, and take our time, and I thought going back to Vermont. It’s a chill place there.
Did you end up sleeping in your old bed at any point?
Oh yeah, I think I still had whatever cartoon was popular – I think maybe it was a ThunderCats pillow case – still on the pillow.
The video for your song “Lessons Learned”, that’s a pretty amazing video … how were you two feeling before you jumped out of that van and started stripping in Times Square? Had to have been nerve-wracking.
Yeah, I mean, Kim likes to say it was like that feeling of being black-out drunk but without drinking. She swears she doesn’t remember really doing it. But, I don’t know, I thought it was kind of liberating in the end. So maybe I wasn’t too freaked out. I do have … I gotta find a video I took of Kim while we were walking to take the subway to Times Square, before meeting up with our friend’s van, and her just saying, “Let’s not do this, Let’s not.” Her just telling me that.
Along the lines of music videos, read that you majored in film at Pratt Institute – it’s obviously helped in the music video creation process, but what did you see yourself eventually doing with that degree had you not focused on music?
I mean, I like short stuff. Short form stuff. Trying to make a movie, and doing it for like three years or whatever you might work on a movie … it’s too much. I love coming up with ideas and then seeing them come to life. So I think music videos was great for … something that I’m still able to stay involved with. Probably would’ve been the dream if someone could make a living off it, but you can’t really in music videos. So maybe yeah some television commercials, I might have tried to make them kind of funny. Yeah, maybe that’s where I’d be.
You’re playing Bunbury in Cincinnati this year – which begs the question, which type of venue do you guys prefer? The open-air, high-attendance festivals or the local, smaller capacity, concert halls or the DIY venues you guys started out playing?
Well I think, you know, there’s a certain beauty to all of those things. But when I think of the festivals and the sort-of club/theater type places we’ll play … festivals are great because there’s typically a really big audience, and sometimes people who haven’t even heard you yet are mixed with people who really love your band, and I take pride in the fact that we put on a show that you will have a great time at even if you’ve never heard of Matt and Kim.
Could see you guys drawing a lot of people out of the crowd who weren’t specifically there to see you. They might hear you, then see the crowd going crazy then come over.
Yeah, and I love the challenge of that and the energy of those sort of sized crowds. But there’s also something about, like right now on this tour, playing shows that are your shows. Where you’re in a room full of maybe a couple thousand people that all know all the words to your songs. There’s definitely an energy about that, too. Clearly, I’m just psyched I get to do both.
Where’s the first place you go once you get home to Brooklyn after being away for a while – outside of your home of course?
Oh, well, I think there typically may be … ok, sorry resetting my answer about three of four times thinking about … there’s a park in Williamsburg called McCarren Park and right near it there’s a place called Urban Rustic that we go and we get sandwiches, and then we go and we chill outside at this dog park that’s right there, and we sort of lurk on dogs, and we just eat a sandwich outside and then maybe meet up with some friends and loiter in the park for a while. And that’s gonna be a typical summer coming back.
Anything new you’re listening to that others might not be (but should)?
There’s this dude Kevin Morby who - and it’s funny because I’m talking about my favorite show being that of Watch the Throne, and we’re huge hip-hop fans - but this guy Kevin Morby he plays a sort-of rock music that feels a little throw-backy to the 70s or something like that, but it’s low-key and super-chill. And I’ve been really into, when I’m just in like a chill mode, putting on his album. He was also in a band called The Babies that put out a couple great albums, too. These albums are all on Spotify or whatever, but I remember seeing him around Brooklyn when he was super young making music, and he’s become quite the song-writer I think. But Kevin Morby, yeah, that’s the name.
Matt and Kim play Bunbury Music Festival on Friday June 5th at 6:45p on the Sawyer Point Stage!
Go enter to win a pair of 3 day passes to Bunbury Music Festival HERE!