Matt Sucich has been playing music for years, finding open mic nights across the city of New York and opening his heart to strangers. He has done what many musicians aspire to do: record an album, release an album, play a major venue celebrating that album. And on top of everything, he’s done it all himself (mostly). The recording, the promoting, everything has been keeping Matt insanely busy.
Luckily though, we scored an interview with the singer/songwriter. Get ready for Matt’s record release celebration at Joe’s Pub this Saturday night.
As his producer, Devon C. Johnson puts it, “It comes down to this: everyone hears something special when Matt sings. Everyone hears a story. You don’t have to listen hard either; the room is always silent.”
You’ve been asked this a million times, so let me make it a million and one. Where did “Jubilation & Jealousy” come from?
It’s just that concept of loving something so much that you become envious of it. In my case this usually applies with other people’s songs…namely the artists I’m influenced by. The song itself came about when I was wandering lower Manhattan during Fashion Week in late 2010 and watching this sea of people looking to get noticed, each more so than the next…it was overwhelming. Mixed with what I was going through at the time, it turned out to be a decent recipe for a song about finding someone among the Jubilation & Jealousy of the city.
How long have you been playing music?
Not counting the childhood piano lessons…I’ve been playing guitar since I was 18, but it took me a long time to appreciate the great songwriters, and when that happened I started studying like never before.
As an aspiring professional musician, what’s a general week look like for you? How busy did you get during the recording of the album? How busy are you now promoting it?
This is a great question. These days I feel as though you’re as busy as you want to be. As an independent artist, there’s so much that goes into promotion and hustling and it’s very easy to get lazy, but at the same time it’s extremely addictive to go out there and meet new people, see whose music you dig, and who digs yours.
Sunday through Thursday for me is the main Open Mic schedule…Generally the same string of venues, but once in a while I’ll mix it up. The beautiful thing about New York City is for every constant group, you’ll also have an equal amount of new people being exposed to your songs, so it’s very much worth it to revisit these venues. There will certainly be slow nights when it’s just you and a few other people from the scene, but those nights aren’t any less fun. You still get to play in front of folks and that’s valuable experience.
When I was recording the album, I shut myself off from a lot of things because I needed to be isolated. I knew myself and how I would work best. When I was back in the real world, I still had a ton of work to do on the record, but I also had to get out and keep playing. One of the keys was to constantly tell people that I had a record in the works and it would be out soon. Forcing myself to make sure it happened. I’d say the hardest part of doing everything yourself is staying motivated. With a home studio, it’s very easy to pop open a bag of pita chips and stare at Facebook all day.
Promoting the album now can easily be a full time job. There isn’t a moment in the day where I don’t think of my next move or jot down a note on something to do the next chance I have. It’s very easy to lose sight of the art amidst the business. Clearly this is why management exists, but when you’re doing it alone, you’ve got to find a way to stay focused on what’s important.
What’s been your favorite venue to play in the city?
I’m pretty sure after Saturday night it’ll be Joe’s Pub. But from playing out night after night, I’d be crazy not to say Caffe Vivaldi on Jones Street (off Bleeker). It’s just a great group of people, an incredibly warm room and I owe a lot to their Monday night open mic. I definitely had a musical turning point there.
I’ve heard you explain it before, but tell me the story of your guitar.
My acoustic guitar was given to me by a close friend. It belonged to his neighbor’s tenant, and when the tenant passed away, it was left in the house. The guitar was in pretty rough shape, but I put a little money into it, and aside from some mild tuning issues, it’s a beautiful sound. Nothing pains me more than having to plug it in at most venues…it has such an amazing natural bottom.
Where do you find inspiration? Is it other artists? Personal experiences? Drugs, alcohol and sex?
My musical inspiration is absolutely from other artists. Lyrically, I’m inspired by love…always, mostly a personal experience and a healthy dose of exaggeration. I don’t necessarily have a hard time writing about other topics, its just when I do…I still manage to bring it back to love.
You’ve got a unique sound. I want to classify it as alternative country, but at times it sounds more like folk. Other times, it sounds like there’s a rocker hidden deep inside of you. If you had to put your music into a genre, what would it be?
I like to call it Reverb-a-Folk. Where I’m very comfortable on stage with my acoustic guitar, I also have a passion for tremolo/reverb drenched electric. I’m happy to show both sides of the coin with the record and my live set. Generally you’ll see me solo and hear the songs in their purest form, but I also want to make it clear that I’m heavily influenced by those classic sounds. Twangy electric guitar, heavy low end, bassy drums…these are all very important sounds to me.
Joe’s Pub. March 26th. Record release celebration. What can the audience expect?
Perfect follow up to the previous question…the audience is going to see a healthy middle ground between the solo live set, and what’s on the record. I’d be lying if I told you we were going to rock the place out, but you’ll definitely see some movement. I’ve got Brian Kesley playing upright bass and Matt Farina on drums for most of the night and there will certainly be an intimate moment or two. There will also be some special appearances from the folks I’ve met along the way these past few months. Even though it’s been available for almost a month via my Bandcamp site (www.music.EsMatteo.com)…I’m looking forward to giving the record a proper release, and I’m having a hard time trying to think of a better venue to do so than Joe’s Pub.