Written By Laura Curry
When you walk through the doors of The House of Independents on Valentine’s Day, you’ll be enveloped in a “sultry” ambience, courtesy of The Matt Wade Band’s intoxicating blend of soul, jazz and R&B sounds. The 9-piece band will be playing a combination of your favorite love songs, along with Wade’s original tunes, which have been rearranged to give listeners an entirely new experience. The music will keep you fired up and full of passion while you enjoy complimentary chocolate and whiskey tastings.
Pop-Break had the chance to interview the Asbury Park based singer/songwriter, Matt Wade, in anticipation of his Valentine’s Day Special next Tuesday. Along with sharing the details of the evening in depth, he gave us a closer look at his career in music, discussed his upcoming third album, and explained the intricacies of staying inspired and writing songs.
While Wade isn’t from Asbury Park, the town still acts as home base, since nearly half of his band mates live there. It’s also where he formed most of his music connections and made a name for himself.
Wade won Top Keyboard Player for 5 years in a row (2011-2015) at the Asbury Park Music Awards, and he has two albums that were released prior to and during that time period. His self-titled debut album, released in 2009, and D-Sides and Demo Tapes, released in 2011, both showcase his heartfelt lyrics and pop, jazz and soul-tinged sound. Additionally, he has shared the stage with talented musicians, such as Dave Mason from the band Traffic, and the jazz organist, Joey DeFrancesco.
Wade’s most recent achievement is something that most musicians only dream of—he played the organ in Matt O’Ree’s song “Black Boots,” off the new record Brotherhood, which features Bruce Springsteen on vocals and guitar. Along with recording a song with a rock legend, Wade plays the organ on the rest of the blues rock album.
Jumping back to the excitement of the Valentine’s Day Show, Wade reveals that next Tuesday will be his first time performing with his complete lineup. All nine musicians and singers play music together in other projects and bands, like Gedeon Luke and The People, and he’s thrilled to have all of them together in this capacity.
The full lineup for the Matt Wade Band includes Wade on piano and vocals, Brian Gearty on bass, Andrew Davis on drums, Erik Rudic on guitar, Roshane Karunaratne on keyboard/synth, Kindra Brown and Khadijah Mohammed on vocals, Tyler Kaneshiro on trumpet and Daniel Dickinson on saxophone. As an “exclusive sneak peak,” all of these band members will be featured on Wade’s upcoming third album, along with plenty of other talented musicians.
Originally, The Matt Wade Band’s lineup consisted of 3 horns, bass, drums, keys and Wade’s vocals. The new additions provide an entire layer of elements that build up the sound and give it more strength, Wade explained.
“When I’m adding guitar, two backup singers and a second keyboard player, it’s definitely more powerful,” Wade said. “It will drive the point home a little harder, and it’s going to have a fuller sound.”
For those of you who were curious, Wade is a multi-instrumentalist, yet he primarily plays the piano. He explains that this was never decided, it just happened that way. He started on the piano as a 4-year-old and picked up guitar, drums, bass and other instruments along the way.
“I always felt the most at home on piano because I had been doing it longer,” Wade explained.
Adding an introspective theory to the mix, Wade said, “Anytime I’ve been in bands as far as I can remember, I’ve always been either a drummer or a keyboard player, and I don’t know if it’s just because I like hiding, but it makes me more comfortable to be behind something.”
Also, Wade realizes that in terms of singing while playing an instrument, he’s much better at doing two things at once on the piano.
While Wade is gifted at multi-tasking on the piano, it’s clear that he’s also very talented at juggling all facets of his career. Wade’s “day job” involves operating his own recording studio, TYTE Sound Studios in Brick, NJ, where he also teaches music and produces. If there are any spare moments left in the day, he works on his own music until his brain is too fried to even look at another instrument, he admits.
Wade took a break from his band a couple years back because he needed a change of scenery from performing at the same places and playing the same songs. Seeking inspiration, he decided to tour with bands on the road, and he’s been a “musician-for-hire” ever since. He has performed with bands such as Gedeon Luke and The People, Nicole Atkins, and Matt O’Ree.
“Doing the whole ‘playing-in-a-whole-bunch-of-different-bands’ thing keeps you inspired, because there’s always something else going on,” he said. “Things don’t get stale.”
Although he is busy most of the time, and it may be exhausting some days, Wade stays motivated to forge ahead with music.
“When I started touring … the constant changing of things definitely helped,” Wade said. “Even when that’s not enough to inspire you, the whole production side of things – working in the studio with other people, and being forced to come up with things and bounce ideas off of each other out of necessity – is also something that keeps me going.”
It’s no surprise that his full schedule makes it difficult to write and record music. Wade explains that the third album has been a work-in-progress for the past few years.
“It’s something that I started and had a lot of momentum with, and then I moved,” Wade said. “I was building my studio and spending a lot of time on the road. Between all of those things, and teaching and producing for other people, it’s not something that I had a lot of time to do.”
Now that winter is here, things have slowed down and Wade has thrown himself into working on the album. The ultimate goal is to finish the record by the summer, which will be a huge accomplishment since he hasn’t put out a record in nearly 6 years.
Slowly but surely, Wade is fortifying the core of the album, all on his own. From determining the arrangements of songs, to recording the drums, bass, piano and guitar parts, Wade is making progress. He even records a demo of these arrangements so that the musicians can simply go into the studio, listen to it and start playing. It makes the process much easier, since it’s all mapped out in the demo. Although he is fully aware that doing everything on his own makes the process much longer, it also ensures that the final product will be exactly as he envisions it.
Another obstacle that Wade faces with the third album is his abundance of new material. He has notebooks filled with nearly 35 songs, and it will be a major undertaking to sift through all of them to choose just 8 to 12 tracks for the album. As much as Wade is excited about the new songs, he’s still attached to the older ones, and it makes the decision that much harder.
“You don’t want to pick favorites, because you worked so hard on all of them—it’s almost like choosing a favorite kid,” Wade joked. “You can’t really pick your favorite. There have been so many, and the older ones have changed a lot.”
Overall, Wade is looking forward to releasing his third album, and he’s optimistic about its reception in the music community.
“Once this record is done, I’m going to be really happy and proud of it, because it’s been so long,” Wade said. “I’ve really changed as a writer and player. To have this come out after all this time, it’s going to surprise some people.”
While Wade has evolved as a writer and musician over the past couple years, he explains that the songwriting process is consistent when it comes to the subject of lyrics.
“Everything I’ve written has always been about me or somebody close to me,” Wade said. “If I were to write about something that wasn’t, it would mean I have to try ten times harder and it might come across as forced.”
As far as interpretations of Wade’s music, he leaves it open for listeners to define their own meanings.
“That’s another reason why I write about personal experiences,” Wade said. “Everybody – even people you don’t know – we all share so many similar life experiences. If it speaks to them in any way, and they haven’t left the room, then it’s a job well done. Even if they can’t relate it to something in their own story, if they’re taking the time to hear mine, that’s just as valuable to me.”