Recent visitors to Australian shores The Matches are only a few days away from unleashing their third and most experimental album yet.
Front man Shawn Harris talks about beers, girls and producers…
of The Matches (US)
By Cameron Chambers
Hey Shawn, how are you today?
Pretty good man, how are you?
Great man, where are you guys
at the moment?
Houston, Texas my friend.
The Matches just finished up
the Soundwave tour, how did you find the festival compared to your previous
shows here in Australia?
The festival was a carbon copy
of a tour we have in the US called Warped… you may have heard of it,
ha ha. It had all the same bands too, so it was kind of weird to see
all these bands that we’re friends with in America all the way over
here in Australia. It was like “what are you doing here”?!
I don’t even know if there were
any Australian bands on the show…
Carpathian did the national
and then there were a few locals in each city.
Ah cool. We had a lot of fun man
and at least we could spend the summer hanging out together with our
friends. We had some good sideshows as well. As far as sideshows go
we decided to book some of our friend’s bands from Australia rather
than the American bands… because we’ve already done that.
We thought we’d hook up some
friends we’d met down there previously!
You guys are starting to become
regulars down here, what is it that keeps bringing you back to Australia?
Um… girls, beer, chocolate and
oh yeah… the shows! They’ve just been going so well, ha ha. We’ve
been getting a lot of support from Australian radio and MTV and we keep
getting asked back… and it’s not the kind of place you want to decline.
We got asked to come and do the
Pyramid Festival for New Years Eve, so we flew over for just the one
show! We had a similar offer to do a New Years show in New York but
we didn’t take it… we’d rather go to Australia.
Who were some bands that
you enjoyed watching during the festival?
Motion City Soundtrack are old
friends of ours… um, we’re friends with The Plain White T’s. They
were actually one of the first bands that we played with eight years
It’s so funny, their new single
is this huge pop sensation… well, I don’t know if it’s like that
in Australia, but in the US and the UK it’s this radio Starbucks kind
of song, ha ha. But yeah, everybody thought they came out of nowhere
but they’ve been working their asses off for years, so it’s good
to see that they’re having some success.
Fall Of Troy were really, really
good and… yeah man, we already knew ninety five percent of the bands
from touring before, ha ha.
Did you get a chance to do
any of the cliché “we’re on tour in Australia” activities?
We’ve kind of already taken
care of the cliché ones, like kangaroos and all that shit, ha ha, and
you know, go to the beach and go swimming. We’ve done that but now
we’re at the point where I think we have more friends in Australia
than we do in America, so we like hanging out with them.
This question is actually from
one of the kids on our forum. Do you have any pre show rituals or habits
that you adhere to?
Weird shit, ha ha!
John our guitar player does all
kinds bizarre, kind of tantric exercises. He freaks the hell out of
me! He’ll do these one armed push ups and hold it and breathe funny,
so if you’re standing outside the dressing room it sounds like dudes
are getting it on behind the door, ha ha.
Justin does all these jumping
jacks and weird squats as well, but Matt and I just sit in the corner
with a beer, ha ha.
A band’s third record is
traditionally their “make or break” release, did you guys approach
“A Band In Hope” any differently compared to your previous albums?
Nah, not really. I guess we did
have one intention that was different, and that was to put out “A
Band In Hope” as close to “Decomposer” as possible. We’re gunning
for the one year turn around between albums… like Bob Dylan and The
Beatles. They don’t tour though, ha ha, so it’s harder for us, but
you know what I mean.
We’ve got to stay on the road
coz we make money nowadays, so we recorded the album with a lot of different
producers… we actually used nine producers again because it was practical.
Recording a song or two here, or two songs there between tours… I
don’t think one producer would have put up with that shit, ha ha.
Producers… your standard technical
producers, well, they want to do this whole project thing and have set
hours, so they say “let’s go from 10am – 8pm” or something like
that and I know that personally, I simply cannot think with a clock
in the room, ha ha. I like going from whenever we wake up, which could
be 8am or 4pm depending on what day you catch us, ha ha, until we can’t
keep our eyes open anymore… like 2 days later, ha ha!
Why do you think The Matches
sound benefits from having so many different producers on board?
I think overall the sound would
be the same. I wouldn’t say that having many producers attributes
to the different styles that are covered on the album, but… I would
say that we were really conscious of which songs went to which producers.
We could tell when a song was a John Feldman styled song, you know?
We’d be like “he would really fit our vision for that song”.
There is a danger of working with
a producer who colours the band’s songs nearly as much as the band
does. Sometimes you’ll hear a record and you can tell who produced
it, as opposed to who the band is, so working with different guys is
almost a failsafe to ensure we aren’t overtaken by a producer’s
style. Any continuity on the record, and I think there is, then that’s
our style and not the production.
Are you concerned that your
records may lose that cohesive feel
by having so many different people involved?
Not really, but in saying that,
there are definitely a handful of songs that we couldn’t put on the
record that are really good songs and I think our fans would really
like them. Hopefully we find a place to put them, like a B-sides record
or an EP or something.
I just hope we get it out there
because I think people will dig them… they simply didn’t fit the
track listing. I guess making it cohesive is half luck and the other
half is editing afterwards and making sure all the songs fit.
Was the inclusion of pianos
and violins something you guys had
been looking to incorporate for a while, or was this the first Matches
record that felt like it could utilize additional instrumentation?
On the last record we had a song
called “Salty Eyes”, and we had our friends Anton and his brother
Lewis play strings on that song. Strings are beautiful man… I’d
put them on every song if I could play them, ha ha. But we don’t want
a record that we can’t play live. It’s cool to have strings here
or there because live there are things you can do to replace them, you
know, using a guitar or synth or something.
When we have access to a piano
or a keyboard or something like that then we can definitely play it
live like the album. I guess by including all kinds of different instrumentation
you’ve got to be more creative and go with the flow as far as utilizing
That’s all we’ve got time
for Shawn, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Aside from the record coming out
very soon… no, ha ha!