Right now, life is sweet for Matthew Sweet.
As he tells it, things are going great: he's working on an episode of The Simpsons to be aired this winter; his summer tour is going well; and his Kickstarter to start a new solo album was fully funded just hours before our conversation. He'll use that money to record in Omaha with bandmates and special guests, and plans to release an album next spring. It will be his 16th studio album, when you include the three-volume run of '60s, '70s and '80s covers he's released with Bangles' singer Susanna Hoff and the debut album from supergroup The Thorns (Sweet, Shawn Mullins, Pete Droge). Of course, most know him from '91's Girlfriend, which he remounted in a full-album tour in 2011, but he's spent the 20-some years since expanding his sound, sending tendrils into the worlds of alternative and psychedelic rock. His yet-untitled new album promises to do that again.
He'll play at Radio Radio on Thursday.
NUVO: Your Kickstarter just funded!
Matthew Sweet: It funded like 15 percent in six hours last night. Somehow it got on something, and then it was just flooding. Every couple minutes there were a couple people. It's mind-blowing. Now it makes me think, how do you get to that patch of people where suddenly it just works?
NUVO: How do you unlock the Internet?
Sweet: Yeah. Before that, it's been incredible because just the average backing [donation] has been really high, so I think it's been very die-hard people. [Last night] I saw more of just getting the CDs and downloads and not so much of the other things. There's just a heavy amount of them.
NUVO: Do you know any details of the house party that you're going to play?
Sweet: I do, actually. I emailed with the guy. It's a fan in Atlanta, and we've met him before. He's a super huge power pop fan and he has house parties any way. So there's at least one, and I think there's another one that's supposed to be kind of brewing in Nebraska, but I don't know where it's at. I hope people just don't stop [donating] because it funded. Because the more we get, we can publicize the record, make better objects for everybody, high quality materials. Now I'm thinking double gate-fold on the vinyl, you know. It's just fun because the people that are doing it, they know what it is. It's not a shot in the dark, it's the people that really care.
NUVO: Something that stood out to me in your description of this new project is that you called it "a serious new solo album."
Sweet: I've been thinking about doing the Kickstarter for a while. I just want to make sure it's a very whole effort. I didn't want it to be just a bunch of songs that I wrote over the last year. So instead, I've waited and I'm going to write all the songs at once before I make the album. I thought, "It'd be really cool to just make demos again." I used to make demos always, and then pick from those demos what to record. Now, everything's a recording because we have such high-quality recording at home, we can have studios there.
So I thought, I'll make demos. I'll make sure it's really strong songs and I won't write songs while they're being recorded, is I guess how I meant that to be different. I'll write all the songs, I'll make the demos, I'll make the album, everybody will get their rewards in the spring and we'll actually be able to go out, tour for the album, get more people to know about it once it's finished. It just feels like it will be a whole campaign where it's more about the new record than we've done in a long time. I usually do at least a couple songs from a new record, but I don't expect everybody to come and do a long, completely unfamiliar thing. So I feel like this will be something that maybe we can focus more on the new thing, instead of just the touring.NUVO: I just listened to the Motel Beds' cover of “I've Been Waiting,” this morning that was released on Flavorwire.
Sweet: What is this? [Editor's note: We explain Motel Beds, read a segment of the post aloud] … Awesome! I've had very few covers in my times.
NUVO: In the interview, the singer says that he's been a fan forever and ever and that his parents were so happy when he started to play that song over and over instead of Nirvana.
Sweet: That puts it in perspective! “My mom and dad really wanted me to do it!” I get that quite a bit, actually. Parents desperately trying to pass on the music to the next generation. I don't mean that to be sarcastic, because it's awesome when they come and they're together.
NUVO: Any particular memories of your last show in Indianapolis?
Sweet: I've always really liked Indianapolis. I've played there quite a bit. My Long Time Back shows, I'm trying to think, what is the place that we played so much there?
NUVO: The Vogue?
Sweet: The Vogue we played a lot, way back. I remember the Vogue very well. We've always had good shows there. Even if it's not a giant turn out, the people are always great. I was glad we were going. I couldn't remember if we got there on the all-Girlfriend tour.
NUVO: Now, you're reissuing Girlfriend on Plain Recordings on 180 gram vinyl this fall.
Sweet: I don't know anything about that!
NUVO: Slicing Up Eyeballs says, "classic third album will be reissued on 180 gram vinyl sometime this fall by Plain Recordings in what's being billed as the record's first time on 12-inch since its initial release."
Sweet: Hmm, not exactly right. We didn't do vinyl of Girlfriend, at least, I don't think, until they did this deal with a vinyl company at the time whose name is escaping me at the moment. They did up through 100% Fun. They did Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun, so it probably was around 1996 when the first vinyl came out. And that was kind of the only vinyl until the more modern era, where we started making it more with my last couple records. That's interesting. I wonder if they just licensed it from Sony, maybe that's why I don't know about it. But I'll check that out .
NUVO: I've never informed someone of their reissue before.
Sweet: Well, if the money is going to Sony, then I'll never see a dime. But you know what? How big of [a draw] is the Girlfriend vinyl anyway? I'm more happy that people can just get it, actually. I should probably start making all of them on vinyl. But for now, I'm going to do my Kickstarter album!
[Music] Roots, Rock