• By: Owen Maxwell

Matthew Good powers on

Life changes, and for Matthew Good that meant making his new record Moving Walls in his parents' garage. Good stripped much of the roar of his last record away to produce an intimate listen that shows a Good maturing more than ever. We caught up with Good ahead of his two night run that was supposed to take place March 18 and 19 at Bronson Centre. The performances are now postponed but check out what he says about working with friends and how life shaped his record.  

Ottawa Life: How have you found your creative relationship has evolved with Warne Livesey across your numerous records and what did he add this time?

Matthew Good: In a lot of cases working with producers can be a relationship pretty limited to the studio. Warne's really like family. I've lived with him and his wife, his son has done sound for me. Him and his wife are friends with my parents, they were close with my dad before he died, so I'm close with them. So when I work with Warne, it's working with one of my best friends of 20 years. When we make albums it's telepathic. I write demos with full instrumentation on them, and then we'll tweak strings parts from there. Warne will arrange my strings and add bits and pieces. He's great at adding organ parts and good flourish. The great part is that he doesn't run it by me, he'll do it and then look for my opinion. Working with him isn't really work, because it feels like we're just capturing moments.

Ottawa Life: I was also interested to hear you say that in the past the song ideas were there but you rarely had the technology to always record it, do you find this ease has stopped you from exploring other ideas more?

Matthew Good: Technology is so brilliant for capturing music. I was a test subject for GarageBand. It used to be a different platform, closer to what Logic is now. We would talk about what plug-ins and effects I was using, and then see what was good or not with it. I became the George Martin of GarageBand in a way. In my records from Vancouver onwards, there's elements from that program. And there's not a single real string on Hospital Music, not a single real stringed instrument. It's GarageBand elements with effects, and then into a console. It doesn't limit me, I experiment way more because it gives me the ability to do so. Hospital Music was made in three weeks with me playing almost everything but the drums. There's some guests on a couple songs but that's mostly me. It's not representative of everything I do, because I'll get real horns and strings in other cases. The real thing can sound better than anything else too.

Ottawa Life: How did you find crafting so many of these songs in a garage shaped the record, especially as you've self-described it as a much more acoustic record?

Matthew Good: Going acoustic was something I meant to do. I'd started on material and shelved it. I'd put a mic on the table my computer was on, and I really compressed it and added reverb. I sat back a few feet with my guitar and started finger-picking, and that's how I wrote "Selling You My Heart." Warne brought up that on the demo you can actually hear my block heater too. If you go to the top of "Fingernails" you can hear rain, that was just actual rain on the garage door from the demo.

Ottawa Life: With that in mind how did "Selling You My Heart" help you find a direction for the album that wasn't there yet?

Matthew Good: I did and I didn't have direction. I went directly from that to demo "Parts" and I thought "This is great, I'm really onto something." I'd originally written "Boobytrapped" as this New Order thing that was pretty weird. Then I transposed it to what it is now, soon I wrote "Beauty" and the rest just came. I was listening to a lot of Arthur H in my downtime, who is this French, middle-aged Tom Waits. And that led me to "Lumiere Noire."

Ottawa Life: I thought it was interesting that you wanted to try writing "Lumiere Noire" in French to challenge yourself into a new rhyming scheme, but did you find like with many languages that it shaped the way you thought too? 

Matthew Good: It didn't really affect the thinking too much. If you translate the lyrics it becomes pretty close to something you'd hear me writing in English. I really enjoyed it though. I guess I didn't think about it too much in a linguistics way.

Ottawa Life: I was interested to hear where the hotel-room concept for the "Selling You My Heart" video came from between you and Stefan Berrill, especially following the over-the-top look of your video for "Sicily"?

Matthew Good: That hotel room was an interesting part of why we did it. I was living with my mom and dad ever since my divorce. My dad had really bad dementia before getting cancer, and he passed. So every once in a while to get my sanity I'd go downtown to a hotel. Stef just said "Let's just do it in the room." There was no costume design, I didn't even have a guitar on me. We just grabbed a guitar from the shop down the street, and away we went.

Photo: Matt Barnes