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INTERVIEW: Matthew Sweet On His Kickstarter Project, New Album And Future Plans

Lindsay Andarakis

Fans looking forward to Matthew Sweet's upcoming studio album can expect a "whole focused effort on songwriting. (Courtesy Photo)

"It's a little more like you took driftwood, and made an album out of it, if that makes any sense," said Matthew Sweet, who is performing this Saturday at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC), about his album, "Modern Art," that was finished in 2011. "The sound is more fractured than "Girlfriend," but that is purposely the way I created it. Some of it came from really basic ideas and I was kind of wandering and recording those ideas, and I saved some of the weird structures of things when I was first having ideas for songs."

Matthew Sweet, a Nebraska native, rose to stardom in the rock music scene with the success of his third studio album, "Girlfriend" in 1991, and stated in a recent interview that he and his manager, Russell Carter, have managed to keep his career going long past the normal life of rock, making him sort of an elder statesman on the rock scene.

The WHBPAC describes Sweet as a, "power pop pioneer." He chuckled at the title, and said that he would probably not describe himself as a pioneer. The singer noted when you make music, it is really up to other people to decide what category you fit into. Being a big fan of power pop, Sweet is happy with where he has been categorized.

He is thrilled to embark on a new journey of creating a Kickstarter project with a new studio album in conjunction with a 3D art project. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, and said I was going to do for the past year and a half, and then finally got it together to run it," said Sweet. The new project is the first time he has ever done crowd funding for a record, which is exciting, but also risky, because it is the fans that are making the project financially possible. His goal for the project is $32,000 and the fundraising ends on Saturday, July 26, at 8:25 p.m. Fans can contribute to the project here: www.kickstarter.com.

There are a slew of rewards that come along with pledging a donation for the Kickstarter project. Sweet is experimenting with 3-dimensional art projects that are coming from scans of pottery he has made in the past, and there are also bronze-casted cats being offered, as well as some original pieces of pottery. "I'm going to make demos of the whole album, which I haven't done in a long time, so those will also be available, and I'm trying to make packages of different things such as colored 180 gram vinyls and all kinds of cool things," Sweet remarked. There are different levels of reward depending on how much money you choose to donate toward the cause.

On the website for Kickstarter, Sweet promises, "a strong, clear delivery, energetic and heartfelt from rock to melancholy and back again." The new album is sure to be something to look forward to on the power pop music scene.

The performance this weekend is going to be an exciting, collaborative "greatest hits style" show, that features many crowd-favorites from the famous "Girlfriend," album, as well as a much more varied set than has been played for the 20th anniversary tour, which Sweet and his band played "Girlfriend," in its entirety at every show.

The album, "Modern Art," was deeply personal, which Sweet attempted to emanate after some of his musical inspirations, Brian Wilson and John Lennon. "I think Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys is probably the greatest musical genius of our time," said Sweet when asked about his biggest musical inspiration. Both Lennon and Wilson created songs that were very personal and melodic, the type of music that particularly appeals to and continues to inspire him in his career. He noted that this album feels more like him that anything he has done in the past, despite its unorthodox style.

Taylor Swift recently wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how many people predict that the future of the music industry is bleak, but she disagrees and thinks the value of an album is "based on the amount of heart and soul and artist has bled into a body of work," which is not to different than Matthew Sweet's own opinion. He thinks that at the end of the day, "If you're going to be a musician, you have to care about the music the most, and get through those difficult times. It comes along with being a musician." While Swift feels that music is a rare form of art that should be paid for, Sweet added that it is a tricky situation, and that he can see both sides of the matter. Back in the nineties, he said he used to tell his manager he wished music could be free, but it is hard for an artist to survive if they aren't getting paid. The idea of it is nice, but the reality is just not so agreeable. He wanted it to be free, just so he could disconnect the commerce side of the music business from how he really felt about the music. Your production of music should not be solely based on how much money you will make from releasing an album or how many fans you gain, but how the album makes you and your fans feel.

Fans looking forward to Sweet's upcoming studio album can expect a "whole focused effort on songwriting." Rather than writing on the run, Sweet said he would strive to write the songs first, make demos and then record in the proper order, which should make for a really strong and electrifying album. Fans can expect this album release, hopefully in the spring of 2015.

Some friendly advice for aspiring musicians, "Well I always say, you have to really love doing music and not just do it because you want to be a star or something, because even if you succeed at that, most of the time won't be a giant success, so you really have to have that drive to keep doing music because if you don't have it yourself, the business will surely burn you out," advised Sweet.

You can see Matthew Sweet at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55, $65, and $75.

WHBPAC is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For tickets, call 631-288-1500 or visit www.whbpac.org.

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