Fabulous Flip Sides interview with Matt Layzell of The Matinee

Singer Matt Layzell discusses “both sides” of the new single “Trouble Is” and “Ain’t No One Like You” by Canadian roots-rock band The Matinee.
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The Matinee, photo by Laura Harvey, courtesy of Sideways Media

The Matinee, photo by Laura Harvey, courtesy of Sideways Media

Vinyl 78 and 45 RPMs came with flip sides on the back of the A side of singles. When the first vinyl era ended at the end of the 1980s, cassette singles throughout the 1990s had either a flip side or both sides of the cassette with two songs. When CD singles briefly followed, a second song or more would appear on the CD. Now, when digital singles are released, generally it is just one song, but from time to time the release will be a pair of songs, with a featured song plus one more, the digital equivalent of a flip side, which is the case with The Matinee.

GOLDMINE: When I listen to your prior music, like “Temper Temper” from your 2017 album Dancing on Your Grave and “Blood Alley” from your 2015 EP Broken Arrows, I hear a bit of The Shins and a band that my wife Donna and I both enjoy, Neon Trees. When I listen to the two new songs, they both have a country sound, a shift in style which is fine as well, and I love them both.

MATT LAYZELL: Thank you. That is a tremendous way to start. It is funny that you say that. Goldmine is our first external feedback, apart from our inner circle of a few close friends, so it is interesting to hear. I’ll gladly take that. When we started we were more in a traditional rootsy genre and we got accepted into the country scene here in Canada and then we turned our backs on it because we didn’t feel comfortable. None of us really have a country music influence. None of us grew up with that. We are open to listening to all genres but but we’ve never been influenced by country music. We’re more influenced by rock and roll bands. We all grew up with parents who loved The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Those were the bands we were listening to at a young age and as we got older, as 1990s kids, we had the grunge era and then started to find our way into an Americana sound. Our first album in 2013, We Thought We’d See the Sunrise, was more in that mold, definitely country enough that it got us into playing country music festivals but country radio would never accept us. Those you mentioned, from our second and third records, were definite attempts to get us to step away from what might feel like country music, deliberately trying to be more rock and roll. Then, with this new batch of music, we decided to write what comes naturally. If we are leaning that way, I guess that is naturally what we do.

GM: You mentioned The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, what about Canadian bands as influences?

ML: The band The Tragically Hip, which is one of these iconic Canadian bands that just never broke in the U.S., one in Canada that we grew up on and loved. My parents personally played all of their records, took us to the shows and then I started following the band. We have played at festivals with them too. That is a band that really ingrained in me the idea of storytelling and bridging together the places you go and the people you meet across your own personal travels into a story.

GM: The Tragically Hip is also the favorite band of one of my Canadian friends Stewart. I have their 1992 album Fully Completely on cassette.

ML: They have a deep catalog and when we worked on our first record we chose as our producer the person who worked on our favorite record of theirs, Phantom Power, Steve Berlin, who also plays in Los Lobos.

GM: You mentioned festivals. Here in Daytona Beach, Florida, we had a country music festival where the Daytona 500 is held called the Country 500 which lasted three years from 2016 through 2018. I went all three years and saw a couple of acts that remind me of both sides of your single. I would not have known some of these acts had it not been for the festival. There are big names, but in terms of not so big names, I saw a group called A Thousand Horses that I met and heard for two of the years. When I listen to your new single “Trouble Is,” there is a song called “Preachin’ to the Choir” by A Thousand Horses from their 2017 EP Bridges that I am reminded of. But talking about rock earlier, the first thing I hear in your vocal delivery is a bit early Journey with keyboardist and singer Gregg Rolie before Steve Perry became their exclusive singer.

ML: That is interesting. Journey is still making their career last and I’ll take that as you are talking about a heavy hitter. Thank you. What other acts were at the festival?

EP photo artwork making the cover look like an old worn album

EP photo artwork making the cover look like an old worn album

GM: Several, but one act at the festival that I am reminded of when I listen to your “Ain’t No One Like You” is Keith Urban with a song of his called “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

ML: Our guitarist Matt Rose, with our one true country connection, played with a Canadian artist named Dallas Smith and they did a tour opening up for Keith Urban. I have heard some pretty wonderful stories about the back stage treatment of kindness from those tours. Keith is as big as it gets and he is so generous. He is a professional and a showman.

Matinee 500

GM: Thank you for doing this double digital release, creating the equivalent of a digital flip side. I have only had this happen once before, two years ago with Louise Goffin with her pair of releases “Let Me In” / “A Fine Surprise.” I am pleased when we can feature two new songs in our Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides series. On your new songs I hear female background vocals.

ML: Yes. Our guitarist Matt Rose and his wife had a couple of kids in the past few years, so we weren’t able to sit down and work on a record for too long. We played shows when we could. I needed to get away from the city. Vancouver is a small enough city but I had too many distractions to really focus on writing so I headed up the coast to Desolation Sound, a place where my folks live. You can only get there by plane or by boat, as the name would suggest. I spent a few weeks there just writing parts of songs. The idea for “Trouble Is” came about due to my distain for how social media has become so pervasive. We started the band in 2007 before social media really took off so we know what it was like to put together a tour, promote a record, and solicit the songs before social media boomed. While it may have been tougher, you relied on personal connections, conversations, friendships and those interactions with people to further the project. Now it has become almost faceless. It has been troubling. We wanted a song that had a cause. We rented a cabin in a place called Rock Creek, which is a dot on a map that you have to go out of your way to find, and as a group worked to finish this song. Then, as the song built up in the recording studio, we realized that it could benefit by another voice other than mine and the background vocals we could achieve. Our producer knew this girl Colleen Rennison and we knew her for a long time, too. She was from a pretty heavy hitting blues rock band called No Sinner, so she sang on both songs. You mentioned “Preachin’ to the Choir” and we wanted more of a feel like that with “Trouble Is” so our friend Dawn Pemberton, who is a soul singer here in Vancouver, came in with very little direction and did her thing on the song. With “Ain’t No One Like You” after a year of devestation and personal conflict, including a death in the family, I was doing some soul searching. I have fallen in love with so many places that we have traveled to. You are there for just a day or two and just get a little snapshot of what life there is like. A few places have called to me with a magnetic pull. At one of those places I met this girl who pulled me out of my funk with an open heart and got me back in touch with myself. I would hang out with her and the coffee would smell better. I was laughing more freely and was excited about that new connection. I started making weekend trips to visit her. On those long road trips out into the wild I would just listen to music, my thoughts and the wind with the windows down. Here I am this jaded city boy and there she is this wild mountain girl, and I started humming this song on one of those drives, and it came naturally. The lyrics spilled out easily. As soon as I came back from one of those trips, Matt Rose knew what chords to play right away, like the song had always been there. It just came to life right in that moment. After having Colleen singing on “Trouble Is” we decided to ask her to sing on this song too.

The Matinee

Flip side: Ain’t No One Like You

A side: Trouble Is

Debut: March 6, 2020

The Matinee Music – independent release

GM: The Matinee has toured with someone we have featured in Goldmine, Randy Bachman.

ML: Yeah, we went almost coast to coast, from Vancouver to Montreal with Randy. We have learned so much being able to open up for some pretty cool acts and every time you open you are like a kid at a candy shop trying to see what you can learn and what tricks can be picked up from these guys who have been doing it forever. Randy is such a storyteller with every song he plays from The Guess Who, BTO, and songs that he has written for other artists. It was pretty cool hearing him tell the stories and then play the songs on stage. Playing the theaters he gets to play was pretty special and his crowd was gracious to us.

GM: The photos of The Matinee has four of you, yet there are six of you.

ML: That’s right. The four you see in the photos are the four original members, me, Matt Rose and Geoff Petrie on guitar and Pete Lemon on drums. We all have been playing music together since high school. The four of us started the band in 2007. We have had a few bass players and keyboardists come and go over the years. We are in need of a new photo shoot because the other two guys have been with us long enough to deserve it, as a nod to both Georges Couling, our keyboardist, and Marcus Abramzik, our bassist. They do a heck of a job. They have earned their place in the band. On tour last summer we had a ceremony on stage during one of the sets and presented them with certificates of appreciation, their five year service awards. Speaking of appreciation, I appreciate what you and Goldmine are doing for Canadian acts. I was just reading your article on The Poppy Family. Jonathan from the label we were on was a huge Poppy Family fan. I didn’t know too much about them but there is a big street festival here where we play every summer and there was a tribute band called The Poppy Family Experience. I watched them and it was a real treat. I didn’t know about Susan Jacks’ kidney transplant until I read your article. She and The Poppy Family are Vancouver icons.

Photo courtesy of Susan Jacks

Photo courtesy of Susan Jacks

GM: Now I get to share the latest music from Vancouver with these two new songs that I enjoy so much from The Matinee.

ML: Thank you. Thank you taking this time. I appreciate it along with the rest of the guys in the band.

Related links:

Listen to the new single "Trouble Is" by The Matinee

Listen to the new flip side "Ain't No One Like You" by The Matinee

For more info go to thematineemusic.com

RELATED LINKS:

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides Interview with Susan Jacks of The Poppy Family

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides Interview with Louise Goffin