Thank you so much for talking with us Matt. For newer fans, how did your passion for music and career come about? I became passionate about music and writing at a very young age. I was taking guitar lessons as a young kid but the thing that stuck with me the most was songwriting. I remember driving with my dad when I was just six or seven years old and he’d turn on Springsteen or Cat Stevens or Jackson Browne – one of those great writers. And without fail, he’d always end up calling out a line and telling me to listen to how they said it, how they turned the phrase.
So I was effectively studying songwriting long before I ever wrote a song. Once I started writing in high school, I knew that’s what I wanted to pursue.
What song that you have recorded means the most to you and why? ‘Outskirts of Grace’ has been my answer to this question for a long time. That song means so much to me personally and it was just such a memorable moment writing it with Charlie Berry and Ryan Hedge. However, I just wrapped up one that will be coming out later this year that might take that spot… You recently released your new single, "American Girl," that you also co-wrote. Tell us about the writing process and where the idea came from. “American Girl” is my newest song and I wrote it six or seven years ago for my then-girlfriend, now-wife. We had gone out to a Writer’s Round in Nashville and had a date night out. Something that night prompted that idea for me that night and when I got home, I just started writing a bunch of things down that I loved about Jenna. I got about halfway through it and then stuck. I took what I had to my co-writer, Kenny Johnson a week or so later and he really helped me polish it off. He was instrumental in the second verse, bridge and the melody of the chorus. Couldn’t have done it without him.
Where did you grow up and how has that influenced your style of music? I grew up in Eureka, MO. I like to say it’s somewhere between the city and the sticks. Right on the edge of the suburbs – at least it was back then, it’s grown a bit since I moved away. Anyway, I spent a lot of time just driving around looking for things to do with my friends – there wasn’t a lot to do as a teenage kid. It’s not a town of 200 people or anything, but it feels so small – everyone seems to know everyone and you just kind of run in one circle your whole life (I mean that relationally and metaphorically.) There were a lot of times where I just couldn’t wait to get out and see what else the world had to offer. So I write from that place a lot – that place of restlessness, wonder and fear of complacency. When/where do you do your best writing? To answer your question as you asked it, I do my best writing when I get back to Nashville and get to write with my cowriters – although COVID has honestly made people more open to Zoom writes, so I have been getting to do that from home more lately. BUT, some of my favorite songs have come from my most frequented writing spot – my fire pit in my backyard. Almost every single night, I sit out by a fire and write. It’s just kind of a part of my day now
What is an example of a menu you would prepare if I came over? Lately, with all the staying at home, I’ve been doing more cooking – specifically more grilling. I don’t have a whole lot of variety, but the few things I make are pretty good if I do say so myself. Earlier this year, my brother, dad and I went in on a whole cow – so we have a lot of beef in my freezer in the garage. So if you were coming by for dinner, I’d make steak for sure – probably a T-Bone on the grill.
A new found love of mine is portabella mushrooms. I used to think they were gross, but I was wrong. So I’d grill some mushrooms with a little garlic salt and cracked pepper. Grilled asparagus with a bit of lemon pepper would finish it all off. And of course, an old fashioned. Can’t leave that out. Where is your favorite place to eat in your hometown? There’s a lot of good food in Saint Louis, but I was actually born a ways west of the city in a town called Eureka, so I’ll answer for there. Super Smokers BBQ is where it’s at. Pulled Pork Sandwich or the BBQ nachos are the best, but the whole menu is great. If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? I’ll combine the music and food categories here and say I’d want to share a meal with all my favorite musicians – Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and I’ll be more relevant for the last one and say Eric Church. What's your favorite family recipe? Pot Pie. But it’s not actually pot pie. My Great Grandma Edie Pearl used to make ‘pot pie’ which is essentially thick noodles in gravy. My Grandma Kay started making it when Edie passed away and my mom has, in the last few years, figured it out too. It’s so good – basically a heart attack in a bowl, but so good. I don’t know how it got called pot pie to start with – I know that’s not what everyone else calls pot pie. Edie Pearl was from a tiny little town in Northern Indiana, maybe she just didn’t know what pot pie really was? I don’t know. But we call it pot pie.
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? Nespresso. Kidding. I’m a huge patron of theirs but if drink brands count, I’d probably say High West Whiskey out of Utah.