Written by Samantha Evans
Mat Kearney grew up in the town of Eugene, Oregon and never in his wildest dreams would have thought he would make it as far as he has and played the places he has played. Being the genuine, down to earth person he is, Mat has tendencies like the rest of us. Whether it is doing the running man before shows (you will find out more about that later) or spending time with his family, Mat lives his lifedoing what he loves.
Mat is currently on break from his Just Kids tour that will be back up and running in May. So far he has played in countless places across the country including the Ryman in Nashville, the Tabernacle in Atlanta and the Best Buy Theatre in New York City. During this tour he has played to sold out crowds night after night captivating fans new and old.
Recently I got the chance to sit down with Mat to talk about the tour, music and where he finds inspiration for some of his songs. I got to see that genuine, down to earth person that he has become and there were a few jokes that were cracked along the way. Check him out on the second round of the Just Kids tour. You don’t want to miss him or what he has to say.
Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview. It really means a lot to us here at Pop-Break. So I know that you’ve been on tour for a bit now. You don’t have a show tonight right?
No I actually have a little break. I just finished up the first part of my tour and we’re doing a few little things and then I start up another round in May.
Awesome! So, how’s it going? How has tour been so far?
Unbelievable! Me and my managers sat down with a calendar and all the big rooms we dreamed of playing and we said, ‘Lets go for it’ and I think like 90% of the shows sold out and it’s just a really special I know you’re not at a show tonight but are there any pre-show rituals that you do? Any out of the ordinary ones?
I do my vocal warm ups with a little speaker and everyone laughs at me because I make strange noises. Usually I have a Redbull which I know isn’t good for me but still do. Then usually right before I go on I try to get a short dance party going to lighten the mood and get the blood flowing. My go-to move is doing the running man. *laughs*
Nice! When you are out there every night singing and performing, what do you hope your audience gets out of it?
I think I really enjoy keeping people on their toes. I want the show to be encouraging, real but also a lot of fun and somewhere between like a spiritual moment and a total party. That is the goal.This may seem like the typical question, but did you ever think that you would be this successful?
*laughs* No never! I knew that I loved making music and I knew that my friends really liked the stuff I was making but when I started it was just literally to make music that I loved playing for my buddies in my car. That was the goal. Moments like this tour are very “pinch yourself” because I never dreamed I would be playing the Ryman in Nashville or The Warfield in San Francisco or The Wiltern in LA. Some of those rooms you’ve dreamed of playing and your heroes have played.
That’s amazing I don’t know how you do it. If you could start all over again, would you do anything differently?
Sure, I mean I think I would be less worried about what people think and more free to take risks. The best stuff I’ve done has been when I just did stuff I loved and the worst stuff I’ve done is when I tried to chase the other things trying to impress other people.
Being that Just Kids was a very inspirational album that people could relate to, what was the hardest song to write? The most fun?
Probably “Moving on” was really hard just because it took a lot to find verses that I really believed in. That one took 20 different versions of verses to get the one that I really loved. And the most fun? Probably a tie between “Heartbeat” and “Billion.” I knew I wanted to write something fun and like “dance party of the night” and literally they just fell out of the sky. Both those songs I wrote in five minutes.
Are there any other projects that you are working on now?
Just the live show and releasing the wine. That has been totally fun. You feel like you have a lot of swagger when you show up to a party carrying your own bottle of wine.
Is there anything in the future that you are working on that you know about?
For me it’s just getting the next tour going and music. You know, I am always writing. Just trying to make records and put on a lot of shows.
Well we look forward to it we definitely do! This is an interesting one, where is the weirdest place you have ever gotten the inspiration to write a song? The most common?
The weirdest is like driving home from the supermarket. I think I came up with the chorus for “Hang on” while driving home from there. Also, “Ships of the night” I had the chorus to that song and I knew it was really special but I was looking for the verses to tell the story. Me and my wife had gotten into a fight and she was driving me to the airport and I remember I was waiting at the gate and all of a sudden I wrote all the verses for “Ships of the Night.” I feel like the most common is sitting in my living room, with my guitar and a lot of space in my schedule.
Unfortunately I am a relatively new fan of yours (I’m sorry) So far, I am very impressed with what I have heard. What would you like to say to other new fans out there? Your older fans?
I feel like the new fans it’s fun to get to know them and for people to discover what I’m doing. They look back at my catalogue and they’re like, “Wow! You’ve been doing this for a while.” To the new fans it’s like the water is warm come on in this is a happy family. There’s a really cool community around my music. And the old fans, I just really appreciate that they stuck with me through all the different kind of styles and things that I’ve tried. I feel like they have come to my music like when you go to a restaurant and tell the chef, ‘Hey, prepare something for me, I know I’ll like it.’ I feel like that is our relationship because there is this trust with all the different styles and genres that I’ve been playing with that they have put up with.
DOWNLOAD MAT KEARNEY’S NEW ALBUM, JUST KIDS HERE.