I’ve always been the type of avid music listener looking for the next great artist before they make it big. I pride myself in knowing a band before their song gets on the radio and becomes a huge hit. Usually, I discover these musicians through streaming services or music blogs, but when it comes to Matt McAndrew I didn’t need to find out about his music because I’ve been around it since I was in grade school. Matt was always going to be a success. It wasn’t a matter of how, it was a matter of when. Thanks to hard work, determination, and a little television program called The Voice, it wouldn’t take long for
Matt McAndrew to become an overnight success story and one of the top new artists to look out for.
From his initial audition it was clear that McAndrew was going to make it far in NBC’s singing competition. His version of “1,000 Years” by Christina Perri made three out of the four judges turn and try to convince Matt to let them coach him. Matt would go on to work with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and each week the Jersey native would knock it out of the park with his covers of songs like “Take Me To Church” by Hozier or “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. He would even bump Taylor Swift off the top of the iTunes charts with his song “Wasted Love.” With his faithful “McFandrews” (the nickname given to his ever-growing fanbase) by his side, Matt would go on to take second place on The Voice. Although he didn’t win the competition he did end up fulfilling one of his life’s goals this past February when he signed to Republic Records and was finally able to “Check Matt.”
Now, Matt is currently recording his first major label release and getting ready to hit the road. I spoke with my old friend about his journey from singing in local Philly bars to playing on national television, his time on The Voice, and much more.
I’m going to make it quick it’s only a couple questions then you can go on and keep making amazing music and stuff.
I’m on my ride home now so you can ask me however many questions you want.
Alright so lets start from the beginning.
What first inspired you to start playing music?
I’ve always been interested in music. I guess since I was a little kid, when I was really little, I used to sing along to the Aladdin soundtrack in my car seat apparently.
[I was] Like one or something. Then my grandma had a keyboard at her house that I used to play around with. My mom got my sister one and I used to just pick out tunes on the keyboard and I think that’s how people in my family knew I was a little bit musical. I got my first guitar when I was 11 … and I don’t know! It was a lot of fun and then it wasn’t until I was in school that I really dug into music. The music, and kind of stuff that I was into at the time, and the couple people that I knew also played guitar were the driving forces behind me playing more.
Do you remember the first album you ever bought?
My sister and I don’t really agree on it. She seems to think that my mom bought me that; I don’t know what the band is called … Eiffel 65 or something like that. The “I’m Blue” song. I just remember really liking that song but I don’t think I had the CD. I think the first CD I ever bought was an AC/DC greatest hits or something that I bought at Wal-Mart. At the time that music video for “Blue” was super futuristic because it was all animated but it doesn’t look good at all now.
Yeah it hasn’t aged well.
Still just as cutting edge!
When you were getting ready to audition for the first time, were you stressed out on your song choice or were you always set on “1000 Years” by Christina Perri?
I think I wasn’t really sure what I was going to go with. I was going to sing one thing and then I changed it up a couple of days before the audition actually.
What were you going to sing?
I was going to do “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen.
That would’ve been a good pick too, but I really thought “1000 Years” really showed your range.
For sure, and to be perfectly honest with you, I was looking at it like maybe I wasn’t going to get a chair. So if I could only sing one song, I wanted to do something that was more a grand, emotional beautiful song. I don’t usually get to play with strings or big productions so I thought that was cool.
What was the best advice your coach, Adam Levine, gave you during the competition that has stuck with you since?
Well, before the battles he was just saying that we really just need to have fun and the person who has the most fun on stage is going to win. I really took that to heart and was really just stressing to not be nervous and not get in your head and just have fun. The people who have fun are the people who go really far on the show and end up winning. I can’t physically get a perfect vocal performance out of myself; there will always be something I think I could’ve done a little bit better, but the thing that I can have complete control over is my attitude and my nerves. It took me a couple of rounds but by going into the knockouts that was my goal to not be nervous at all and I think that was actually my best performance so just instilling in me that it’s important to not be nervous and to have fun.
I think it showed. You had the best stage performance. Your stage performance during that whole run, you were saying hi to people mid-song!
That’s just my personality. The singing, that’s kind of nerve-wracking. Initially it was kind of hard to get in front of people and perform but I’m really comfortable with people. During the meet and greets people are like – ‘Is this weird for you?’ I’m like no this is great! I’m not shy at all about that.
I always said when we were watching each week, Adam was your coach and he obviously cared about you and he wanted you to win and everything but Pharrell was constantly trying to come up with new ways to say that he likes you. My favorite moment of the season was when Pharrell asked where people can find your music and it ended up crashing your website. What was it like having so many people at once buy an album that you produced yourself?
It’s crazy man. Here’s the thing, when I first tried out for the show, my hope, my big goal was that I’d be able to get on a couple of episodes and shine a spotlight on my own personal music. I didn’t count on making it that far. I didn’t count on the fact that the show was going to be awesome so I totally got wrapped up in the actual competition and the process and the journey and then around December, when my personal record started, it was in the charts on iTunes the whole month of December pretty much. I forgot about that part, that that was a possibility, so it was totally cool.
Now, you mentioned the whole process, was there an aspect on being a contestant on The Voice that you didn’t expect? Especially towards the later rounds, was there something you were like oh we have to do this?
Good question. I figured we were going to be super busy. They were telling us since before blinds that if you make it to the end you were going to be super busy, and I was. It was definitely the busiest I’ve ever been in my life. I think it changed me a lot like I wasn’t really that comfortable taking selfies or something before the show but then they were like selfies are better if you smile! That’s the whole attitude so they get you to be a more outgoing person, for me anyways. I mean some people didn’t react like that but I didn’t think there’d be so much makeup I guess! You just sit down in a chair at the crack of dawn and you get covered in makeup, plastered onto your face, your arms, anything visible. I guess that’s something I wasn’t expecting.
Now let’s go back to your album, View of the Pines. You produced it; you did everything before The Voice and it blew up because of The Voice. Now when people hear View of the Pines, they hear the singer-songwriter version of you. When they saw you on the show they saw a little bit of everything from you. They saw “1000 Years” but then they saw “Take Me to Church.” Do you think for the next album you’re going to have more of what people saw on TV or do you think you’ll stick with more of what you started with View of the Pines?
I think it’ll be more of a logical next record, but honestly that’s one of the cool things of me doing the show. I was able to do a wide variety of different kinds of music and have that be okay. I could really showcase the kind of music I’m interested in and that I enjoy singing and can sing well which is also really broad. It’s cool but you can’t make a record that is that eclectic. I mean you could, but I don’t intend on doing so. You have to pick a focus and then make that record then go make a different record if you want.
Now I always feel like I’m always asking artists who are your biggest influences and I feel like that’s getting dated so who is on your iPod right now? Who are you listening to right now at this moment?
Right now I’ve been listening to “There She Goes” by The La’s on loop. Do you know that song?
That song’s great. It’s just simple and I think I can write a song like that. It doesn’t have to be crazy. It could be really simple and really good.
Like your performance of “God Only Knows.” It’s simple, but it’s a complex song and that’s the one of yours that I have on my iPod that I listen to everyday.
That’s awesome. I appreciate that.
It’s funny too because my friend and I used to drive to high school every day and I would burn him CDs of whatever I was listening to and he dug up those CDs and one of them had “From the Start” by Hollow Shoulder on it and you could even here it then, Matt’s going to be huge one day.
That’s awesome that I did it but it’s a little bit hard for me to listen to.
So I’m going to give you one more question, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Well I’m not sure how much I can talk about but I would like to go on tour this spring/summer, maybe put out another single in the spring and then honestly I would love to release the album end of summer, beginning of fall. I personally have 11 or 12 new jams ready to go and then I’m just looking to find more songs and to write with songwriters and stuff which is a new process for me but it’s fun.
DOWNLOAD MATT MCANDREW’S LATEST SINGLE, “COUNTING ON LOVE”
Al Mannarino is the managing editor for Pop-Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History and is currently a Promotions Assistant for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino