2003-06-24 - 10:15 a.m.
From time to time I come across a piece of music that I really identify with. Sometimes it is a single song - sometimes an album; and when I find it, I tend to listen to it over and over until I have subconsciously associated how I am feeling at that exact time in my life with the music. After listening to this music repeatedly for a while, I put it away, sometimes for months.
Last August my last grandfather died of heart failure up in Portland Oregon. The whole family went up for the funereal. I flew up with one of my elderly relatives and found myself in one of those situations where all those minor physical ailments that occasionally settle on me settled right on top of each other. I was in such bad shape that I couldn't walk, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep - I was a mess, stoic, but a mess.
That is when I picked up my Stuart Mathis album. It only has five songs on it, but I listened to it non stop while I was in Oregon, and when I got home, I listened to it for about two weeks before I put it away. I was never sick of it, exactly, I just felt like I had gotten what I needed to get out - transferring my problems into the music and then putting it all away, enclosed cleanly in a slightly scratched jewel case.
Sunday I got out the Stuart Mathis album for the first time in many months. I was feeling a little sad, a little lonely, and I wanted some music that could absorb that. I had no idea that it would impact me so profoundly. The music took me right back to those nights up in Portland that I spent driving around in my deceased grandfather's car, just moving, no destination, trying to get all my thoughts and feelings and physical sensations to align. Listening to the album now has put me in a very introspective mood, and it has given a shape - dimensions of scent and texture - to my present state of mind. I was ready to just dismiss myself as being whiney, sad without reason, but really, I know how privileged I am to be able to feel these subtleties. It is good to be sad every now and then. It can remind you of the important things, the things that matter most.
The things that can never be lost.
From The Rock Interview Index
The Exclusive Interview with Stuart Mathis!
If my hunch is correct, you are going to be hearing a lot in the near future about a super talented singer/songwriter/guitarist named Stuart Mathis, an Alaskan native whom has found his voice...and made it clearly heard...with his band Lifehouse, and playing guitar in support with fellow Alaskan Jewel. I was fortunate enough to see Stuart perform live here in Louisville, and I was very, very impressed as Stuart (with only his guitar accompanying him on stage) ripped through a great set of original songs as well as a superb cover of Led Zeppelin's Dancing Days. It was great stuff. I immediately bought his CD minutes after his set. I hope this interview, as well as Stuart's association with Jewel's Soul City Cafe program, will help to spread the joy of Stuart's talents to many more people around the world. Guess you could tell that I am really sold on this guy? It's true (and very rare for me). I hope you will enjoy this interview.
Q: Stuart, thank you so much for joining me here for this interview! I wanted to start here by telling you that I first became familiar with you when you opened for Jewel here in Louisville back in November, and I was blown away by your set! My Wife and I were so impressed, we rushed down to buy your CD during the intermission and I noticed hundreds of other people doing the same. You made a fast impression on everybody there that night. How did you enjoy this last run of gigs with Jewel?
A: All of the gigs were great, just to get the chance to play my stuff for people I didn't know were cool. It's a little scary at first, the whole "fear of rejection" thing. It might sound stupid for how long I've been doing it, but you've got to be ready to change on a dime if something's not working. Thats what makes it fun though, trying to win people over is your only goal when your the opening guy or girl at someone else's show. But Jewel has some great fans and I never felt unappreciated.
Q: Your new CD is entitled Pathetic Love Songs, and the songs are overflowing with energy and honesty, and it is just a wonderful listen, no matter what kind of mood you are in. There is a little bit there for everybody! Were you satisfied with the results of the album?
A: For the most part I was satisfied but, I don't think any artist is ever really totally satisfied with their work. At least I haven't been. I always think I could have done something better.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the song Louis Armstrong?
A: Louis Armstrong was conceived in New York. I had a couple days off, of course I was trippin' around the city (not on drugs unless you think coffee is a drug). I was sitting down in a coffee shop with all the people walking by and Louis Armstrong was playing in the background, and I thought this is exactly perfect. When you're a songwriter, you end up spending all your time trying to come up with ideas and titles for songs and this one seemed as good as any.
Q: Were you able to sell a lot of copies of Pathetic Love Songs during your run with Jewel?
A: Yeah, I actually pressed a thousand and sold them all. I could have used some more but I was pretty happy just to get rid of those. When Jewel asked if I might want to open for her, I had to rush to finish the Pathetic Love Songs c.d. because I was already in the middle of a full length one, but I knew I would never get it all done by the time I had to leave, so I named it Pathetic Love Songs and just finished the five songs. But now I've had the time to finish the full c.d. and its called Garden Party. It has some of the same songs on it with a few little changes plus other songs. It's kind of weird I had to do it that way, but what the fuck, ya gotta go with the flow! Also if any one wants to check out the Garden Party c.d., go to stuartmathis.com. It will be pressed and ready by the end of April 2003.
Q: You were actually one of a handful of artists that got to rotate in the opening slot for Jewel on her fall/winter tour last year as part of her Soul City Café program, in which unsigned and relatively unknown talent is being discovered and given a chance to shine and get a little more publicity. Give us your thoughts on SSC and how it has helped yourself and other artists looking for a chance to get their songs listened to.
A: Well, let me think, do any other huge pop stars let unsigned people on a regular basis open for them? NO, I can't think of any. I guess Jewel's the only one. That really says it all. Soul City is unique. I've always thought how cool it would be to find a band or songwriter you dig and let them open for you, but for me its still a dream. I'm flying under the radar and can hardly travel with my own band. But this year has been great, and I'm very thankful.
Q: I was surprised to find out that you were from Alaska! How long did you live there, and where are you located now?
A: I moved to Alaska in 6th grade from Colorado and finished high school there before moving to L.A., where I still live now.
Q: Can you remember your very first live gig?
A: My first real gig was at a teen center in Alaska. I had a guitar teacher from the local music store named Pete, and he asked me if I would fill in for him. He was in a bind and couldn't make it for a couple of hours and just needed me for the first part of the gig. It went well and they paid me fifty bucks. After that, they started calling me whenever Pete couldn't make it so I learned their whole set.
Q: What do you feel has been the most significant moment of your musical career to this point?
A: I don't think there is one big significant moment up to this point. There have been a lot of steps along the way and some great moments, but my main goal is to have a hit song and keep making a living playing and writing music.
Q: What is next on the agenda for you, Stuart?
A: It looks like I'll be playing with Jewel again this year and that should keep me out of trouble or in trouble. And also I want to get my music out to as many people as possible, so basically the same shit I always do. Maybe I should modify my plan! If any one can help me let me know. Also if any one Knows Dan Bern, I want to open for him.
Q: Stuart, I want to thank you so much again for taking the time to join us here, and I wanted to finish up by asking you what your idea of the perfect musical enviroment is for you?
A: Well, I've got a couple of visions Billy. The first one would be in a cabin at a ski resort with four beautiful girls feeding me grapes and telling me how great I am so I start believing the hype, and I've got an array of the world's finest vintage guitars, and the creativity is flowing, and now all I've got to do is write the worlds greatest song! My second vision of the perfect musical environment would be travelling around the world with my 25 dollar cassette recorder and my beat up Martin acoustic in a hotel room with a cup of coffee trying to write a song that means something to me. Maybe it's a hit, or maybe it's not, but I like it. Thanks for having me Billy.