Matthew Good knows what he wants and he isn’t about to compromise.
For Arrows of Desire, the Vancouver-based Canrock mainstay not only looked to the musical influences that resonated strongest with him when it came to writing the 10-track effort, his sixth solo release and 13th release total, but he maintained control over the entire process. The result is a no-frills effort that is as sonically straightforward as anything Good has ever released. And that’s just the way Good wanted it.
“When I demo everything, I write all the parts myself,” says the 42-year old of Arrows of Desire and how prevalent Good’s vocals are on this record compared to previous releases. “My engineer, Zach Blackstone, is someone I’ve worked with for 17 years. And I knew Zach was going to work with Randy Staub, who I knew was going to mix. So, I went about the whole process in a very specific way knowing that Zach was going to work with Randy and knowing how he works. From recording to mixing, I had to have everything lined up.
“Throughout my solo career, I’ve always had final say, but at the same time it can be difficult,” he continues, reached on the phone from Vancouver. “When I set out to write this record, I knew I had to be very direct.”
Being direct has never been an issue for Good. Never short on words, he speaks at length throughout our half-hour interview on issues such as the nature of celebrity, his political leanings and how the Canadian musical landscape has changed throughout his career. And he doesn’t shy away from telling his side of the story, if at times his persistent approach borders on uncomfortable.
“There’s intent there,” he says of the simplicity of Arrows of Desire. “And it’s void of bullshit.”
Good begins listing how important his influences were in making the record. And, even while he hauled on a seemingly endless cigarette (or so it sounded), Good was relentless in detailed the importance of these influences.
“I grew up in a town where the Dead Kennedys did residencies, for Christ sakes,” he says pointedly. “I grew up in a town that had NoMeansNo and D.O.A. doing what they did and then you had bands like Spirit of the West doing what they did, politically. That’s where I come from. Ultimately you’re drawn to bands like The Replacements, The Clash and especially for me, Billy Bragg. And that’s where you go. I’m 42, those are my influences and I wouldn’t run away from them.”
It’s put to Good that with the strong presence of his influences and the straightforward trajectory of Arrows of Desire, he’s come full circle. He agrees, but only to an extent. After a lengthy diatribe on the importance of artist Francis Bacon’s process while creating, Good opens up about his own process.
“Artistically, I’m very solitary. I always have been. You can put me in a five-foot by five-foot room with a coffee maker, a pack of smokes, an ashtray and something to record with and I’ll sit there and do it. It’s all in my mind, I can go anywhere in my mind. And even at my best, my absolute best, I’ve only captured 60 per cent of it.”
Regardless, that 60 per cent has been turned into some of the more unmistakable voices in recent Canrock memory. And Good knows it.
“You listen to one of my records,” he says, “and you know it’s a Matt Good record.”
Matt Good hits up the Burton Cummings Theatre (Winnipeg) on November 7, the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Edmonton) on November 14, the Jack Singer Hall (Calgary) on November 15 and 16, the Royal Theatre (Victoria) on November 26 and, for the final night of his tour, the Orpheum Theatre (Vancouver) on November 28.
By Joshua Kloke