Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Rising from indie fame

After playing a few years on the indie circuit and winning over American suburbanites with his easily accessible melodies and introspective lyrics, Matt Nathanson has recently signed a major record deal and is currently on tour with Gavin DeGraw. Upon arriving at his show at the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, I was ushered upstairs to the backstage rooms, where Nathanson sat sporting a faux hawk and eating a green apple. An IPod sitting beside him caught my eye.

Hatchet: So what’s on the IPod?

Matt Nathanson: Uh, let me see. (Nathanson begins listing various artists including Al Green, Ani DiFranco, the Bee Gees, Bright Eyes, the Darkness and Elvis Costello. I stop him at the Jackson 5.)

H: Ha, you don’t have to go through the whole litany. Let me rephrase: Who have you been listening to the most recently?

MN: Patti Griffin. I’ve been having a Patti Griffin week. Do you know her?

H: I’ve heard of her, but I haven’t heard much of her stuff.

MN: Dave Matthews puts out her records now, but before she was on A&M.

H: I must say, I’m more than a little scared about doing this interview. I heard a story through the grapevine about some other poor young journalist in Philadelphia and how you exercised some trickery with him.

MN: Well, that kid didn’t know shit about the band he was interviewing, and that’s just really obnoxious. So he came in to interview OAR (and I), and we thought it’d be funny to fuck with him … He was just unprepared. He was asking questions like, “Do you guys just tour on the East Coast, or do you tour nationally?” (On his online journal, Nathanson details the encounter, in which he decided to pose as Marc Roberge, the lead singer of OAR.)

H: I hope I don’t say anything quite that stupid.

MN: Nah, dude. That’s pretty outrageous. You’re in. You’re good.

H: Well, thank you very much. I suppose I’m slightly less scared now. I also found it very, very cool that you like “Mr. Show” (the HBO comedy series starring David Cross and Bob Odenkirk). I think you should use your status to get the word out about that.

MN: That show’s the best, but it’s our little secret, man. We don’t want it to get too widespread.

H: Actually, my next question has something to do with becoming more popular. It’s been four months since Beneath These Fireworks was released on Universal, and over the summer, your cover of the song “Laid” appeared on the “American Wedding” soundtrack. I know it’s a clich? question, but how has the transition from indie songwriter to a major-label recording artist affected you?

MN: It hasn’t made any difference so far. I mean, the touring base was building as we were going before we signed the deal, so Universal has very little to do with the touring. The difference is, we get distribution in stores, which is something that’s essential. Even indie record shops are really hard to get into, so it’s nice to be able to have distribution to get records into stores. What Universal does is like gravy. It’s like frosting on the cake. It’s fantastic and is all an extra bonus to what we were doing before.

H: There are planned food drives for your shows in Vermont, St. Louis and Boston. How did that come about?

MN: It’s great to get to this stage where people are coming to your shows. When people come to the shows, there’s a good opportunity to spread the word about stuff. Someone e-mailed a fan and said, “Can you do food drives at these markets?” The word got to me and I said, “Well, fuck yeah.” I would love to be able to sustain an entire table of cool shit, like pro-choice stands, at my shows, but I’ve never had that kind of pull. So this is sort of the first step in a couple markets where we know we do well. It’s nice to have this much status to be able to do that.

H: So what are your plans for the future?

MN: I’m gonna try and be happy. I just want to be satisfied. I want to get up in the morning and be excited. That’s a great feeling. It’s really hard for people to appreciate where they’re at; it’s almost a flaw in the human condition. So I’d love to be satisfied. It’s all moving in a good direction, and it’s moving at a good pace. I would love to be able to have faith in a career, to have faith that I’ll be able to keep doing this just on the merit of the songs.

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