Matt Pond: You Can't Depend on People to Seek Out Your Music -- You Have to Go to Them
Matt Pond spent years leading Matt Pond PA. Now a proper solo artist, he's coming to town in support of his lush new record, The Lives Inside The Line In Your Hand. We caught up with Matt about how he got into music and whether or not people still remember when his music was used in The O.C.
You're the son of a minister, correct?
Yes, I am.
Was the music in church the first music you heard a lot of?
I think what I heard a lot of was both my mother and father's music. It was classical, show tunes. Church music never really had that impact on me. I'm not good at singing in a group on a song I've never sung before.
Was there a band or record that you obsessed about?
I found a copy of Sgt. Pepper's in this place we rented in Maine during a summer, and that basically was it for me. Then I had to get more and more Beatles. I moved onto Crosby, Stills & Nash, and then further outwards. When you start to become obsessed with music, you can't stop yourself. Or you shouldn't stop yourself. [laughs]
Any song in particular on Sgt. Pepper that speaks to you or is it just the whole thing?
Weirdly, "Within You Without You," the George Harrison song. First song, second side. I like the rock and roll. Up until that point, I hadn't had much exposure to rock and roll, it seemed so amazing that it could be so meditative and surreal.
Did you play in the school band?
I played trumpet and French horn, but music performance-wise, I didn't ever, ever imagine that I would want to play music in front of people. It had crossed my mind like I had the same possibility for me as being a millionaire playboy.
Can you remember the first time you played in front of people?
I played in bands and musicals, unfortunately. I mean, some people love musicals. I can appreciate the music, but I never felt comfortable in my own skin singing other people's songs. I went to college. I didn't think about this. I would play a little guitar, but not more than your basic chords. And then it kind of fell on me. I just started writing songs as a means of coping and then putting out records.
Do you feel a sense of freedom that The Lives is the first proper record without the PA in your title?
It was really hard to explain. [laughs] People would ask me what that meant. People would tell me I would be really bad at promoting my band. Now it's the opposite. "Why isn't there [the PA]?" It's kind of funny. I guess when I broke my leg on tour about a year and a half ago, it was kind of cathartic. It was one of the best things that's ever happened to me. I realized that I want to do this even if it kills, not literally. You know, if I'm in total pain, this is one of the one things I can rely on, that I know is real, that I can do as well as I can. Yeah, there is a certain amount of splitting in two. Changing something small like that is insignificant to other people, but it's significant to me.
Even though it's been a few years, do people tell you these days about they first heard you through The O.C. or that Starbucks commercial?
Sure! I mean, there's a camp in the world that would begrudge those things. I don't officially endorse those programs or products, but it's been really good for us. It's good for music. It's good that people be exposed to those things. I don't mind at all, because it's great. It's still a funny story. I mean, someone just wrote to me and heard "Champagne Supernova" on the show. I like that. It's an interesting way to connect with people.
I have to tell myself that not everybody had the same experience that I did with your music. I was working at a college radio station and "Measure 3" was frequently in rotation. I really got into that and in the process of getting to know Matt Lunsford and all the other stuff that Polyvinyl has put out, it was very natural to find some of the records before than and after that. A lot of people do not have that same experience.
You're right. There's a niche of people that are music seekers. They're like you. And there are people who didn't work at a college radio station, they don't work in a record store or don't obsess about these things. Going around or outside of this is pretty much all we have. I mean, there's so much music and cacophony that alternative avenues of getting music to people's ears are good things.
Can you remember the first show that paid your own money to see?
Yeah. You don't like Squeeze?
No, no, no! I'm trying to think of which era of the band to ask you about.
They were on a reunion thing. It was a college show in northern Vermont. I didn't know about independent music until I went to Philadelphia. I still love Squeeze. I would do the same thing if they were around today.