MR: Have you heard that [laughs] Adam Sandler skit where the teenager calls the girl to ask her to go to the spring fling dance. And she's all like, "Oh, my dad is coming." And then she hangs up.
MR: You got to hear it. That's what your voice sounds like.
PM: [laughs] Oh, I'm going to check that out. So what kind of holiday have you been having?
MR: Oh, it's been all right. It's been quiet. It's been nice and quiet, actually.
PM: You got family at home, or are you living alone, or what are you doing?
MR: Oh, I got family.
PM: We're double covering you in this issue, aside from this interview, your new CD is also getting reviewed by Michael Ross in New York City.
MR: Oh, great, man.
PM: Yeah, he liked it a lot. Me too, I thought it was a fantastic record.
MR: Oh, great. Thank you.
PM: You and me were both Philly guys that ended up in Nashville. We've got so many friends in common it's odd that it's taken us so long to meet.
MR: I don't get out much, man. It sounds like you get around.
MR: When I'm working I'm working, and when I get home, I just don't get out much. But oddly enough, some woman from California wrote me and mentioned you as well.
MR: Yeah, she's a painter. I think her name might be Catherine or something.
MR: I don't know.
PM: Yeah, if you chase that down, yeah, I'm interested in who that is. My mind is not working on that at the moment, but yeah, I'd like to know who our friend in common is there.
PM: How long have you been in Nashville, and what brought you, Matthew?
MR: Man, I can't believe it--I frankly can't believe the speed of things--I moved here thirteen years ago.
MR: Yeah, yeah.
PM: And what brought you?
MR: Honestly, I had started in college writing a little bit. I was curious about that. And I think for white kids rock 'n' roll is what sports is for black kids. You know?
MR: And I don't mean that in a racist way at all. I just mean that being from where I was from--my dad wanted me to go to school and to do better and all that. And that was relative, you know, better than what...
PM: "Better than you did, or better than my brother, or what?" Right, right.
MR: Right. And so I had come down here. It's a long story. But my dad--well, I was raised by my stepfather, and my dad was a songwriter, and I wanted to get to know him. And so he lives down here. So it occurred to me to come down here and see what that was all about, because I had kind of started naturally gravitating towards writing later in high school.
PM: Wow. So your dad, was he a Nashville--like a country songwriter?
MR: Yeah. He's kind of--he's written stuff for George Jones and stuff like that. Some people know him, some people don't.
PM: Right. Not a super heavy, but he hit a few licks.
MR: Yeah, yeah. And it was good getting to know him. And then I met a girl, and ended up staying.
PM: Wow. So tell me--you started to, there--tell us a little, please, about the home and the family you grew up in, what kind of a kid you were in school, and like that.
MR: Oh man, it was a good family. I mean, we were a good family in a bad place. You know what I mean? It was Chester, Pennsylvania--not Westchester. A lot of times when you say "Chester" people think Westchester, which was very nice.
PM: They ain't the same thing, yeah.
MR: No, they're not. [laughs] And my family had actually ended up in Philly from Ireland, and then ended up in Chester.
PM: Now, how far back did your family come from Ireland? Like your grandparents were from Ireland?
MR: Yeah, yeah.
PM: Yeah, me too. How much of your family came from Ireland?
MR: Well, my mom's side. And that's what I was raised around, for the most part, until I got a little older. And I don't mean that dismissively, you know how families are.
MR: They're liable to read this and wonder what the--"why didn't he talk nice about us?" Or something.
MR: No, I'm kidding. But yeah, so we ended up in Chester I think when Chester was decent. And then unfortunately politics and some extortional events kind of turned Chester into a pretty rough, sad place. My memory of Chester isn't one of a particularly promising place. My mom would say there was a time when it was beautiful and all that. So my folks worked really hard. My mom works, actually, in City Hall in Chester. And we saved a bunch of money, and we moved to wonderful Delaware, where there was less crime. [laughs]
MR: And that's when I got the bug, I think I first heard The Clash, oddly enough, in Delaware, because I was working in a screenprinting shop, and WMMR was actually playing "Train in Vain."
PM: Right. And WMMR, of course, got into Delaware, yeah.
MR: Oh, totally, yeah. Oh, yeah. It seemed like a world away, but it was forty-five minutes.
MR: But up until fifteen, I'd never traveled outside of there other than maybe to Lancaster to go look at some Amish folks.
MR: You know what I mean?
MR: But they're good people, man. They're hardworking people. And they did the best they could.
PM: And what were you like in school? Were you quiet, or rambunctious?
MR: It's so funny because in my career right now, it's kind of where I'm at. I'd like to change it, I guess, but I was a fringe person. I had friends, all kinds of friends. I'm horribly distracted. I wanted to be a good student, but I couldn't keep my head in it. I just wasn't interested in so much of it.
MR: But I was a horribly distracted student. I don't know what it was, maybe watching my dad and what he was doing. He was working at Scott Paper, and I was thinking, well, if this is what this gets you, then I don't want it. With all respect, because I've got nothing but respect for my father, for what my dad did. I'm talking about the fellow that raised me.
PM: Right, your stepdad, yeah.
MR: And so it was that sort of thing, I just didn't see what that track was really offering. And not that I really thought about it, I just saw no promise in it for me.