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In the Green Room with Matt Hires

Matt Hires’ Take Us To The Start is available now!

Matt HiresAs I arrived at the Schubas Tavern on a particularly mild February day, I immediately noticed how busy the the West Lakeview venue was. Young and old crowded the Harmony Grill in anticipation for a singer/songwriter who’s been making waves from his sunny Florida hometown. Enter Matt Hires. The 22-year old singer met up with us in between sound checks and some live recordings. Disappearing behind the bar front, Matt took us down to the Tavern’s make-shift green room for a pre-show interview. The walls are littered with colorful vintage posters from many previous Scubas events. This room has seen Kings of Leon, Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens before Matt Hires first show at Schubas Tavern. However, this twentysomething is no stranger to the Midwest. He even has a few surprises in store for his fans…

The interview with Matt Hires after the jump…

DH: Do people treat you like a celebrity when you’re back home? Oh my God, it’s Matt Hires! Aah!
MH: No, no. Not really. There’s some areas where the music clubs are.
DH: Where the hipsters are?
MH: (laughter) Yeah. People know who I am down there. Not normally everywhere else.

DH: How often do you get to play around your hometown?
MH: Whenever I’m home I try to play a show. It usually do a one night in Tampa, one night in Orlando type of thing.

DH: Can you tell me about the tour a bit?
MH: We have a couple more weeks left, done at the end of February. We started in Jacksonville, Florida… We’re kind of making a big loop around the country.

DH: So what keeps you focused on the road?
MH: I guess being able to do what I love every night. Sometimes playing the same songs every night idea can get a little old, but I try to keep it fresh in my mind, you know? Everytime I sing a song, I try to sing it like I just wrote it. So, I can really mean what I’m singing.

Me: You mentioned that you have played in Chicago before?
MH: I’m not just saying this because of the interview, but Chicago is actually my favorite city to come back to. I would want to live here if it wasn’t for the winter! But, the first time was the first tour opening up for this girl from New Zealand, Brooke Fraser. We played at the House of Blues. I’ve been to a few, but Chicago’s House of Blues is pretty awesome. Besides that, I played at the Lakeshore Theatre in October. The Vic Theatre opening up for Paolo Nutini.

DH: AND you’re doing a live recording tonight!
MH: Well, if everything works well then we want to release a live album sometime this year.

DH: Are you recording the whole tour or just a few spots?
MH: I’m not sure yet. It might just be everything from here. We’ll see. Actually, the first thing I put out before Take Us To The Start was Live From the Hotel Café which was 4 or 5 acoustic songs recorded when I was in L.A.. So, we did the full length, and now we want to put out a live EP with the full band. It’ll be a little different than the first EP.

Luckily, Matt Hires had some extra time to talk about his music roots and what he’s been working on with F-Stop Records. Also, Tom Petty!

DH: Here’s the most popular question: how did you get into music and songwriting?
MH: My dad was a musician- a drummer. He did a lot of touring when he was my age. I’ve always grown up around music. My parents encouraged my brother and I to start playing insturments when we were younger. They tried to get to take piano lessons when we were really young and I never really got into that.

I wish I had now. And they told me that! They told me, “You’re gonna wish you did when you get older!” It’s hard to write songs on bass!

DH: You said you said you started with the bass and learned six string. So, how many instruments do you know now?
MH: Bass, six string, and banjo. I have a melodica I like to mess around. Harmonica, too. Tambourine!

DH: You know you’re in the big leagues when you master tambourine! What other big successes have you had so far?
MH: Putting out an album I’m proud of. It was even on the iTunes Top 10 which was pretty sweet.

DH: You co-wrote one of the songs (“You In the End”) with label-mate Sara Bareilles. Was that your first time co-writing?
MH: Eric Rosse produced her album and also produced mine. I got to write with some great artists… and it kind of scared me. I’m used to, you know, writing a song alone in my room. It’s kind of weird to have to open up that part of yourself to someone and share that to write a song. [Sara Bareilles] actually sings some vocals on the record.

DH: Are you planning on collaborating with anyone else?
MH: I wouldn’t mind working with someone else, but there’s nothing going on right now.

DH: Any you would like to work with?
MH: Ben Gibbard would be cool. Jeff Tweedy is my favorite. Jakob Dylan! That would be awesome.

DH: Have you gotten the chance to meet any of them?
MH: No, no! Really the past year, 75% of what I listen to has been Tom Petty. I’ve been on a big Tom Petty kick.

DH: Working on any new songs for the tour? Any covers or B-sides we can hear?
MH: Yeah! We actually have a new song we’ve been playing called “A to B”. It’s a little different than some of my other stuff, it’s more folk-y.

DH: So what can we hope to see from you in 2010?
MH: Hoping to put out this live record this year. I’m just gonna keep touring a lot, getting around. It’s a big year!

Photos by: Kate Williams
Written by: Blake Russell

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