Mat Kearney Compares Being the Opening Act to a First Date: "Your Goal Is to Get a Peck"
Slideshow from Train, Andy Grammer, and Mat Kearney at Mizner Park
Andy Grammer on His Career: "To Go From Playing on the Street to This Is Just Crazy"
Last night, pop "Ships in the Night" and "Hey Mama" singer Mat Kearney performed at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca alongside Andy Grammer and headliner Train. Kearney said that live, he wants to make his audience "laugh, cry, and dance, and sing along," much like one would at a Springsteen show. This sixth generation Oregonian now lives in Nashville and is adjusting to the Southern lifestyle as he pumps out radio-friendly hits.
We had the good fortune of chatting with the musician about such topics as hippy Jesus, feeling like you're on a first date as opening act, and being pregnant with music.
"I love opening for people," Kearney said. "It's like the first date. You're introduced to a new audience, and I love the challenge of winning them over, vying for their affections." When you start out, he noted, you hustle and don't know who you are yet. You stand in front of people with your guitar and attempt to "make people understand what you're trying to do." He lamented, though not in a #humblebrag manner, "that goes away as you establish your career, but every time you open for someone, you have to remember how to do that again.
"Your goal is like to get a peck at the end of the night, that's a win. With a headlining tour, it's like you're best friends, and you have a rapport."
His song "Down" takes a look at people dealing with difficult life circumstances. It did well on Christian radio stations and charts. "Sometimes it's surprising to me, because I don't really write for that world, but I love talking about my faith in a raw way," Kearney honestly admitted. He idolizes Johnny Cash and U2, both known for voicing their spiritual beliefs. To him, Cash and Bono are "real dudes who didn't shy away from talking about their faith and how they saw the world."
Kearney grew up with hippy parents in Oregon, who became Christians in the seventies. So though he considers himself a Christian, he's not aligned with the "angry religion that you could maybe associate with it." We joked that he was more into hippy Jesus than angry Jesus. He laughed then said, "I think Jesus' main message was redemption and grace, a concept that us flawed humans are loved. That resonates with me."
Kearney played soccer in college, grew up in a family of three boys, and his dad was a scratch golfer. So, needless to say, sports were a huge part of their lives. Sports players often show up at his concerts, and he ends up supporting them, "I don't know, you met 'em, you root for them," he said. Last week was his time at the US Open where he cheered for Novak Djokovic, with whom he shared the Tonight Show stage.
"The ultimate for me being a kid growing up in Eugene, Oregon, was the coach of the Oregon Ducks, Chip Kelly, came to a show. And he's like, where I come from, he's like God. He's like Obama of Eugene, Oregon." He admitted, "I don't fan out over musicians, but when he walked in, I was like kind of fanning out. I really didn't know what to say."
Pregnant with Music
As far as his next album, "there's something brewing." He joked, "I feel like I'm a month pregnant, you know, you shouldn't talk about it yet? But you can feel it happening." Something musical is growing inside of him, but he said it was like, "I don't know the sex yet."