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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A few words with Matthew Good

By MIKE ROSS -- Edmonton Sun

I like Matthew Good - probably more for who he is than for his music, which is starting to grow on me in any case.


Anyway, he's smart - maybe too smart for his own good, so to speak. He reads books that don't make the Oprah list and has written one himself. He has - or had - a devastating sense of humour. He's not afraid to speak his mind, which we don't get enough of in the safe, cosy, "let's-all-play-nice" Canadian music scene. While he dropped his regular band, his continuing popularity isn't in doubt. Good plays the Joint Thursday. A Friday show was added after the first show sold out. That, too, is almost sold out.


And he's always been a great interview.


So I was genuinely disappointed that he hung up on me about 10 seconds into a recent chat. After opening pleasantries, the conversation went like this:


ME: So, anybody you want to diss before we begin?


MATT: No, man ...


ME: OK ... done with that? No one?


MATT: (Very quietly) no, man ...




I don't think he took the teasing in the spirit it was intended.


I was hoping for one of his typically arch responses. Or he could've called me a jerk for asking such a dumb question and moved on to meatier topics. He's only interested in talking about his new solo album, Avalanche, I was told by the concerned record company rep who called back to get my "side of the story."


Dumb questions can lead to smart answers. Back in June 2001, I asked Good what his first official act would be if he were crowned "king of all media" - a pretty dumb question, to be sure. He replied, "I'd probably start a war. I would create an imaginary enemy in some country no one has ever heard of and I would con the entire continent of North America into hating them. It would be funny."




Or maybe Good had someone he wanted to diss. I was just trying to help. Those keeping score may recall that he's lambasted Our Lady Peace, flipped off Nickelback, cross-checked the Tragically Hip, ripped Radiohead, stirred up Sugar Jones and blasted stupid boy bands in general. Easy targets, but hey, there's nothing I like better than a good slag-fest. He also suggested rude things be done with the Juno Awards he's won. For his brave dissing efforts, Good has been vilified, branded a twerp, a twit and worse. He was even challenged to fisticuffs.


Good can be even harder on himself. He once called his own debut album "the biggest piece of @#$!! known to mankind." That in itself is a bit egotistical. There are far larger pieces of @#$!! in the world. Like his second album. Kidding! It was a joke, OK?


Moving on to serious, meaty matters, Avalanche seems a portrait of a deeply bummed-out individual fighting demons both without and within, though there are flashes of brilliance that sparkle through the darkness. I particularly like 21st Century Living, where he poses scenarios on the merits of "supersizing" various things. It's the only discernible comedy on the record. Other lyrics kind of jump out at you: "You know it's a damn shame the sun don't shine underground. Maybe that's where it's been. Maybe that's where I've been ... "


Frankly, I'm worried about him. Good admits he suffers from anxiety attacks. It was such an attack that started Good on his road to rock. He used to be a folkie, believe it or not, and suddenly fired his entire band after a 1995 show at Edmonton's own Sidetrack Cafe. Similarly, the Matthew Good Band is no more. The disintegration started two summers ago when guitarist Dave Genn stormed out of the studio where they were working on The Audio of Being, another hard-rocking but cheerless affair. (Sample lyric: "If I roast marshmallows over their bodies do you think God will still find their souls?") Genn came back but left again a couple of months later. Then drummer Ian Browne split. After fleeting notions of a new lineup, Good struck out on his own. Only bassist Rich Priske remains.


Good concluded an interview we did in 1999 with the tongue-in-cheek plea: "Don't make me look too psychotic." The thesis of the ensuing article was the importance of finding humour in the face of all the woes in the world. That was four years ago. Much woe has transpired since. If he's trying to carry it all on his shoulders - or put it all in his music - no wonder he's been edgy.


I have just one concluding thought for this talented, temperamental, troubled man: Try to relax, dude. Being the most ornery rock musician in Canada isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it's something to be proud of.


Go me.

Edited by Devil On Rollerskates
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is the calgary sun like the toronto sun?


if so, we've got another paper barely rising above tabloid level here, folks...


and i only recall one single by that lameass band, the music. which doesn't even hold up to anything at all.


anyone read matt's take on music critics? ;) you all should.


this guy seems like your standard sensationalistic bastard.

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