Popa: I'm a romantic at heart, and I've read your interviews and love the story of youse meeting, but could you tell it again? You can humor me and start it with Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess if you'd like.
Matthew: Once upon a time there was a beauuuuuutiful Princess with the magic power to slay at the drum kit! Like a siren’s song my gaze was fixed upon her playing one fair evening at a showcase I use to arrange in Brooklyn. Unlike those seafarers of old however, I managed to survive the treacherous obstacles between my quarry and I, and now, we live happily ever after. How’s that for heart string strumming? In all honesty though, I don’t think it would have mattered how we actually met, because regardless I think the outcome would have been the same. We are just a match for one and other and I think it was really only a matter of time and chance that it would end up this way, no matter how you sliced it.
Popa: And busy you’ve been since, two full albums and a lot of touring, the latest album Play With Your Toys was met with quite a bit of critical acclaim from both sides of the pond, how does that feel?
Matthew: Yeah, it is strange that the album is nearly a year old now. Seems like we toiled on it for so long and now it is nearly ancient history in this modern landscape. It was fantastic to see the response to the album. We really approached it as one complete experience for the listener, you know, get cozy, throw it on and enjoy the ride, and many people have done just that. It’s also nice there were a few stand out tunes that we were able to have flow as singles for a while, and sort of keep things interesting thru the year. But like all art, we’re done with that piece, it’s for all of you now. We are on to the next, actually the next after the next! Hahaha.
Livia: It feels like we need to oil the machine back up and pop the new album that’s on the oven right now! We have received some interesting reviews of the album, a couple of which came from Italy. One of them brought up an interesting point - it read something like: these guys are promising, but their sound still needs lots of work. I personally agree with that. There's a long way ahead of us, and the only way to pave it is learning from what you have put out, and use the experience for what yet has to come.
Popa: I’ve wondered about the single and video release, ‘Work’ it’s quite a timely subject and makes quite a statement (and Livia is quite the Femme Fatale) how did that come about, it was immediately after the album was it an extra song?
Matthew: Yeah, timely hahaha about that… I think those ideas are really timeless, and the song came out of a couple of different places inspiration wise. We just got lucky that as we were putting things together for it to come out you had the Occupy upswing and a lot of political stuff that brought the subject really to the forefront. I think everyone was just feeling that way, or has been feeling that way for a while, overworked, under-appreciated, all of that. But I had a friend point out that he thought we got the video wrong. Instead of lampooning the one percent, he thought it should be motivational for DIY artists, like, work is what we all do and so we got to get back in there, make more art.
Livia: If you knew how much in pain I was in wearing those shoes, you’d look at the video under a whole new light. Haha! But I agree with Matt – the subject is pretty timeless. Most of us are just getting by, and making somebody else lazier and richer. We wanted to impersonate the greedy and the evil. The song was actually never intended to be in Play With Your Toys, but who knows… you might find a little surprise in our next one!
Popa: You’ve also recently become spokespeoples for Howling Monkey Hand Made Guitar Picks and Livia for Dream Cymbals anyone else knocking on the door?
Matthew: Well I rep Howling Monkey after talking with Brian Staebell and sampling a couple different picks he makes. I’m all in on that deal. It seems like such a weird thing for me to be particular about something like a guitar pick, but because of a funny situation, I was stuck looking for something that felt right. The pick I use to use went out of production. So at the right time, he put this pick in my hands and now having used it exclusively for like a year now, I’m completely addicted. It’s a great pick, a great business, a great story behind it. We are working on the “Hendershot” signature model pick now which should be coming soon. I also endorse Malekko Heavy Industries effects pedals. I have a dozen of their pedals, a couple of which appear on the Work single b-side Ratking. Live, my tone is defined by their work. They make some nasty stuff that is just so complex and versatile that you can have like three pedals and make just about any sound you want. My connection Jimmy Archey takes good care of me on that front and I’m sure you’ll see more The End Men / Malekko cross over stuff coming down the road this year. This year for CXCW I partnered up with Commonwealth Amplification for a special guitar amp appearance in the video. I don’t want to give too much away until you can all see it in our submission and in context. The amp worked out perfectly for the shoot, and played it’s part flawlessly in the video. I’m also still working with Michael Himes on guitar stuff. He built my Tele and is about to do some work for me on my Godin arch top. I’m also about to strike up a conversation with Burn Method for some guitar customization. They do this sick wood burning / engraving and painting custom work that I have a Les Paul that is just dying for. So we’ll see.
Livia: Not at the moment. I found Dream Cymbals through my friend Ryan Barclay and immediately fell with their unique sound. I really like their green mentality and they are amazing people to collaborate with. I actually would like to knock at the door of a toy manufacturer and tell him, Hey, why don’t you pass me some noisy toys that I can bang on? I think sometimes real instruments are taken too seriously, and produce sounds that are not unknown yet.
Popa: All things being equal you’re two time couch by couchwest participants, is there a metric that can measure the effect that has had on your fan reach? (plug plug)
Matthew: The 2012 video for Run Away is still one of the most referenced thing that people in the real world throw at us. We use it in booking emails to show venues what we are like full on and live. Fans at shows are always bringing that one up to us saying how much fun it looks like, all of that. Couple thousand views across all the videos we’ve submitted, which isn’t small potatoes. The only metric that really mattered was the owner of the venue in Leipzig Germany, our friend Derek Hedges, pulling in two women off the street to show them exactly that video to try and draw them into the show. That is the kind of response you really want to get.
Livia: Derek and Stoned rock. Seriously, you need to go there if you are in Leipzig. I think the CXCW video from 2012 is still people’s favorite. 2013 was really fun, but a different experience - people in the audience, the outdoors, its length. We like variety, so we will try to always come up with some new ideas.
Popa: The first year Run Away did make quite a splash and last year you set quite a high bar for yourselves with the rooftop concert, are you feeling any pressure to top that, can you even?
Matthew: HA! Well I guess after 2012 they retired our “Most Rocking” award because our showcase didn’t double down on that. Talk about an exercise in over doing it! We had to carry all that gear up there to the 7th floor by hand, no elevator in the building. All the power was coming from the 5th floor via extension cable… it was a day to remember for sure. I think at this point we are just in the habit of going as big as we can come up with. I keep justifying it by how much fun it is after the fact to be able to say you did all this just to make a YouTube video. This year we scaled back the number of songs to just one from The End Men (spoiler alert?) but we are hitting you all up with a brand new unreleased tune and a killer version of it as well, in what we think is a great location… again, I want to give them so much love for letting us shoot there, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise until the video is out!
Livia: you should always feel the pressure! We definitely enjoy that fire, it keeps us on the move. Personally, I am very happy with what we are preparing for you this year.
Popa: What’s next, I know you’ve got some secrets in the works, any you’d care to share at this date?
Matthew: Well I guess we can take this opportunity to announce for the first time anywhere that we are going to tour Europe again from May 5th thru June 2nd, and with that will come the release of a new album! Hopefully! We are working round the clock right now to get that ready for everyone in time to take it with us on tour, so keep your eyes and ears open on that front. Liv and I are also happy to say that starting later this month we will be touring in support of and as part of the backing band for Matt King! Matt is an amazing talent from Nashville who has had songs appear in Sons of Anarchy, Eastbound and Down, tons of other film and TV stuff, and has 4 or 5 of his own records out. It is a reboot of sorts since The End Men have teamed up with Jon Lane and Andrew “Ginger” Archey from the band Godmaker to form his backing band.
Livia: Second that!! And hey, did you see how cool our saxophone player Matt Elia is!?
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