Matthew & Me head for Exeter Phoenix date
Matthew & Me interview
By Sophia Sheridan
Have you heard of Matthew & Me? If you follow the local music scene then chances are high that you have, but for those not in the know they are a five piece band from Totnes, who share the same management as Arcade Fire and Lykki Li. The line-up comprises of front man Matthew Board, pianist and singer Grace Billings, guitarist Andy Hopper, bassist Sam Craigan and drummer Lucy Fawcett. It's hard to define their sound or pigeon hole them to a genre, something even the band are happy to admit, Grace explains "alternative, indie, folk, it's hard to describe, it's all sorts but I suppose to explain to someone we could say we sound like Arcade Fire or Bon Iver" drummer Lucy adds "the thing I like about this band is you can't really say it sounds like any other band".
Like their fellow Devon musicians Muse and Ben Howard, this band is destined to achieve a huge national and global following. They were recently the staff pick on Vimeo for their tilt-shift style video, Old Flame Alight which to date has had 67,000 views. Bassist Sam Craigan says "Yeah Old Flame Alight was a real hit on Vimeo and we weren't really expecting it to do that, it definitely helped that it was the staff pick, it's really got our name out there and because of the style of video and the success on Vimeo we got an article in the Huffington Post and exposure in America".
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The band are experienced performers having played festivals, gig venues and even organised and produced their own 'bespoke' performance series, where they played non-traditional venues such as a garden nursery, a vineyard and a medieval hall to name a few. It was an experience that front man Matt says gave them "creative control" and "allowed us to create an experience for the audience". The band are keen to take their shows to larger venues over the coming months, Matt states "we want to take forward what we have learnt from the bespoke gig series and take it to bigger, traditional music venues, so more people can see us."
Going to a Matthew and Me concert is always an experience not just for the beautiful sounds of Matthew's falsetto voice, harmonising with Grace's ethereal vocals or allowing the catchy, beautiful, anthemic, rocky sounds to wash over you, it is also worth going for the lights and the visuals. Matt says "we want more visuals, we want to develop this idea, it is the next step for our live shows". Andy adds "the visuals are a way for us to keep creating. Our audience get drawn into the visualisations and then that way we make sure we never put on a throw away gig, they are always memorable."
Talking with the band you get a real sense of their confidence and trust within each other, which is no surprise as they have known each other as friends and band mates for years. The five first met whilst studying at the now closed Dartington College of Arts, a time which Matt describes 'the band developed from.' Since then they have constantly been gigging, recording and touring, a process which has united them as a group and allowed them to develop into a polished band who give consistently great shows.
All of the lyrics for Matthew & Me are written by front man Matt who says "our lyrics are a social commentary, they are our personal experiences and our combined experiences. The band is an entity and the lyrics are a commentary on our experiences as a whole." Grace continues "There are no throw away lyrics with what Matt writes. I like the fact that Matt is not too literal within the lyrics, there is a lot open to interpretation and ambiguity which is good."
The band have recently spent time laying down their new single 'Alright' at the Rockfield studios in Wales, where other well-known acts such as Paolo Nutini and The Manic Street Preachers have also recorded. Working with producer and sound engineer Bruno Ellingham at Rockfields "was an amazing experience" according to Lucy and has left them feeling more confident both as a band and as players, Matt says it "took them to a different level to what they had experienced before" which is great news for their fans.
This bands star is clearly on the rise with a new EP being released on the 17th June and an album following hot on its heels in 2014. However if you cannot wait until then to hear their new material then why not catch them live as they will be playing Exeter Phoenix on the 13th March before touring across Devon and London.