I first fell in love with Matthew Sweet‘s brilliant album “Girlfriend” in the early 90′s. It became a standing favorite in my CD collection. There’s brilliant songwriting (“I’ve been waiting”, “Girlfriend”, “Winona”, “Evangeline”), great pop feel, beautiful harmony vocals mixed with wacky and noisy guitar work by Richard Lloyd (Television). Sour and sweet at the same time. The guitar playing inspired me a great deal to try to find a kind of “crazy” take on every solo instead of a slick, melodic, or a standard blues-based approach. Like for instance my solo on the Merrymakers since long forgotten Dreamgirl #9. My personal theory is that everything began with Paul McCartney’s legendary guitar solo on Taxman which definitely opened a lot of doors for how a guitar solo can sound.
This year Matthew Sweet is celebrating the 20th year anniversary of this great album and you can watch himself in an interview discussing my (and many other people’s) favorite song from the album “I’ve been waiting”.
Even though I haven’t followed Matthew’s work intensely since the 90′s his influence apparently still is present in the back of my head. For instance it was the intro riff of his hit song “Sick of myself” that inspired me to the guitar riff of my own “Got you where he wanted”. It’s something with the raw energy and simplicity that always strike me when listening to it. I turned up the volume on my VOX AC-30, took my guitar, came to think if this song, and somehow I just switched the order of the chords and there was the embryo of a new song. In the end if you listen to the songs they don’t have much to do with each other – but this is a good example of a spark that ignited the writing of a song. Re-cycling is a big part of what great pop-writing always has been about! Just ask Per Gessle of Roxette or Noel Gallagher of Oasis…
So, why all this talk about this old hero of mine you might ask. Yes, because the other day (in the midst of my promotional tour of Japan) I was fortunate enough to be invited by Sony Music Publishing Japan to attend a concert at the Billboard Live in Tokyo to see Matthew Sweet and his band (consisting of among others two members of Velvet Crush) perform the entire album live! Such a great – and almost surreal – experience to sit there and watching your favorite album LIVE with the Tokyo skyline as a backdrop.
The show was great and it was very interesting to see the well behaved Japanese crowd sitting quiet at their tables watching the concert. It was very far from the typical crowded, sweaty, basement kind of rock-club. And I must admit I was worryingly comfortable there at the table with my pasta and a glass of red wine. Must be an sign of age! The only downside was that the lead vocals were a bit too low volume-vise. But who was I to complain? I was very fortunate to be there in the first place and the icing on the cake was of course to see Matthew, Paul Chastain, and Rick Menck backstage aftewards and give them my praise. Here’s a couple pictures from the meet & greet – one with Matthew Sweet and me – the other with Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) and me:
All in all – a Friday evening in my taste!!!