Matt Nathanson | Mad Hope Realized

prof_nathanson_sm.jpg"It’s like showing up a friend’s house with your Lego building set and creating something."








In the music business, Matt Nathanson’s seen it all. He began as a solo performer, releasing four albums independently before being snatched up by Universal Records. His major-label debut, Beneath These Fireworks, was a slickly produced yet endearing disc of pop songs about love gone wrong. Problem was, Universal never got behind the record; as a result it went nowhere.

An amicable parting led to Nathanson self-releasing another album, the live solo masterpiece Live at the Point. Live was unique in that it captured his endearing live show, including his between-songs irreverent sense of humor. After that continued the three-year process of creating Some Mad Hope, the album that eventually went on to finally break him. Written and recorded independently, the record was shopped, garnering attention from majors and indies alike. Nathanson eventually signed with Vanguard Records…according to him, absolutely the best move he could have made.

"Being on a major was just not my scene at all," he said by phone from his current tour. "That’s why I got out of there. You kind of want a little bit of intimacy; you need all the nooks and crannies covered, and that’s just not their scene. So then I made Some Mad Hope over two years; I set out to make the record I wanted to make. A bunch of people poked their noses in; there were majors and indie. Vanguard just felt like the best situation.

"It’s such a small label," he continues. "There’s only like six people I deal with. It’s kind of like Cheers, where everybody knows your name."

Released in August 2007, Some Mad Hope has sold over 93,000 copies to date; track downloads have exceeded 415,000. He’s also appeared on Good Morning America, Late Night With David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

"We’ve been touring Some Mad Hope for 14 months," he says. "We’re gonna work this record into the new year. Then in about February, we’ll go into the studio and start messing around, see what happens."

Writing-wise, Nathanson has a good friend with whom he co-writes everything. "My friend Mark [Weinberg] who co-produced the last record, he and I write all the songs. We wrote every song on the last record, and pretty much the record before. We make each other laugh; that’s something we do when we write songs. We wrote one that sounds like ‘Photograph’ by Def Leppard. We were like, Why don’t we write something that we dig. It makes us laugh; we sit around like idiots. We start with chord changes and then melodies. We start with ideas and then we just dump them out on the floor. We go on tangents, write whole new songs based on bits. It’s like showing up a friend’s house with your Lego building set and creating something.

"There’s about 15 songs that are in various stages of undress. A bunch that we worked on over the summer just to sort of get skeletons, tinker and dedicate some time to making an album. I’m really looking forward to that, actually. That’s my favorite part of this whole project, being able to create something out of nothing." | Laura Hamlett

Nathanson’s tour hits St. Louis November 13; he’ll appear at Pop’s with The Break and Repair Method and Jessie Baylen ("she’s amazing," he says). Tickets are $15; the show is all ages.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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