Matt Nathanson Is Working on Being "Honest All the Time"
"For me, having a kid and taking stock of what was really important were the things that really came into focus with this record," he says. "That has nothing to do with success or fame or anything like that. It has to do with stretching creatively and being around a long time. I've always been lumped in with this certain niche of musician. I listen to all kinds of music, but the only kind of music I don't listen to was the kind I was being compared to. It made me take stock and think, 'Fuck, how did I end up in this room at this particular party.' So it began to be about pushing even harder and further, pushing myself to be less judgmental of my own music and be more in touch with what it is. Trying to remove the brain from the experience."
Nathanson also credits performing with gaining confidence too. "I think I took to playing live more than I took to making records," he says. "I was never one to ask advice, so the learning curve was very much me banging my head against the wall. I feel like I've gotten a bit better at making records in the studio, and I've gotten a lot better at knowing how records are supposed to work. It's about making the record a more enjoyable process, and consequently the record sounds more enjoyable when I hear it."
Nathanson, who's also set to perform in the first VH1 "You Oughta Know in Concert" event in New York City on November 21, says he feels for the first time that his career is on an even keel, a sentiment he also attributes to the mindset he adopted when making the new album.
"It kind of became my confidence level," Nathanson confides. "I switched management, which meant kind of an end of the previous record cycle, and I felt real confident -- not necessarily that I earned being here, but that it wasn't going to be taken away from me, and I wasn't going to slip back into being a non-music person. It became like, 'Oh, I get this. I'm safe here.' People are going to come to the shows to varying degrees, and people are going to buy the records to varying degrees. My job is to kind remain in this club. So that freed me up. People come to these shows and have a great time, and my job is to not have anxiety about whether they're going to come and if they're going to like it. It's the first time in my life I've felt that way, and consequently the tour and the making of the record weren't burdened down by this anxious shit that filled most of my life up until this point."
In the end, Nathanson's goal boils down to one thing: "I just want the songs to be true and as honest as they can be. That's really it, and as basic as it can be."
Matt Nathanson with special guest Joshua Radin performs on Friday, October 18, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are currently unavailable. Visit ticketmaster.com.