Boston-based artist Matt York recently released his new album, Between the Bars, which The Patriot Ledger named one of their local Albums of the Year. Stylistically the album is a varied, yet cohesive, collection - touches of rock, pop, the blues, and Americana can be heard throughout - that is anchored by honest songwriting. Here, York answers his Essential 8 and talks about the album, songwriting, dream venues, and more!
What’s the story behind your album’s title? Between the Bars is about people who are at the mercy of alcohol. I don’t drink but I’m around it a lot. When you’re a musician, your one of the first ones at the bar (for soundcheck) and last to leave, so you see a lot both good and bad that can occur due to drinking.
Do you write about personal experience, the experience of others, observations, made-up stories, something else or a combination?
A combination. I joke that my wife was the worst thing that ever happened to my songwriting because we get along and all my songs are break-up songs. When I was younger, the songs were more personal experiences. However, over time, I’ve been able to channel what I imagine certain people are going through and write through them.
What’s your favorite food on the road?
I’m borderline embarrassed to say this but I love going to Popeye’s because we really don’t have them in Massachusetts. However, it seems like every other city I visit does have them and I, invariably, gorge until the self-loathing kicks in and then I go play a show.
What’s your favorite venue and why?
When I was young kid, I got to play at CBGB in New York a few times. I grew up loving NYC bands like The Talking Heads and Lou Reed, so to play that room with all the history there was a really cool experience. In Massachusetts, T.T. the Bears was my favorite venue to play before it closed. It was a room where virtually every night, you could count on a great band playing, the staff there was great and very supportive of the bands.
What’s your dream venue and why?
Probably The Ryman. When I played down in Nashville last year, I went and visited the Ryman and it just has such a “Field of Dreams” type vibe when you are in there. I love the history of music and to play in a room like that, where virtually all of my country music heroes have played at one time or another would be insane.
Favorite (or first) concert you have ever attended?
My dad has always been the person who turned me on to great music. When I was nine years old, he took me to see David Bowie at Foxborough Stadium. It was at that moment that I pretty much knew what I’d be spending the rest of life doing.
Have you met any of your heroes? If so, how did it go?
I got to meet Steve Earle last summer. He was very kind to me and my wife and kids. It just at a meet and greet and was brief. However, I was able to prevent myself from acting all Wayne and Garth and yelling “I’m not worthy!!!!” which I was kinda proud myself for.
Is there a recent release you cannot stop listening to?
I really, really love the new Colter Wall album. The fact that he’s only 22 years old and writing the songs he’s writing is amazing. It’s also amazing because all the songs are three chords, he has a great voice but also seems to have a fairly limited range vocally. Nonetheless, he’s able to produce these beautiful melodies song after song. He’s going to be a star for a long time. My other favorite albums in 2017 were the debut album by the Texas Gentlemen and Tyler Childers’ new album.
The new album is now available on iTunes