There's a long list of confessional songwriters and the best of them have written about their time on the road. Think Bob Seger or John Denver.
So The Matinee has some mighty shoes to fill by writing a song called The Road about, well, being on the road. But this isn't the type of band to worry too much about revisiting tried and true country-rock themes, nor are they the type to meddle with literary devices. They're a roots-tinged six-piece that shoots from the heart and it's working just fine for them.
"The Road was written literally while we were all travelling on the road. I know every band has that song about paying your dues, but it's all based on things that we've done when we're sitting down as a group," says guitarist and vocalist Matt Rose.
For the last three years, the Vancouver-based band has worked tirelessly to refine and perfect a live set that critics have described as "dynamic" and "whimsical." They've established themselves as tireless live performers, playing anywhere and any time. They switch the song or the tempo up depending on the venue. They won't know how the set will sound until they're up on stage.
"We have this mindset that you earn your living by just being out on the road and working your asses off. I know a lot of bands that don't like touring, they don't like being in van. They'd rather just do the record, put it out to the world and see how that goes. Which is totally fine," Rose says.
"There's just something about playing live, and I'm sure that every musician you talk to says the same thing, but there's something about it especially since we're such good friends and we've been doing it for a while together."
All six band members - Rose, Matt Layzell, brothers Mike and Dave Young, Pete Lemmon and Geoff Petrie - grew up together in Coquitlam and after high school went their separate ways. In 2008, the six members reconnected and started writing music inspired by contemporary Americana artists like Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams. Rose says their musical approach is in no way influenced by their hometown but rather the music they grew up listening to.
"Something about the roots, I don't know, there's an honesty to it and that's very appealing to us," Rose says. "From a musical standpoint, we're not into synths or a lot effects or anything like that. It's pretty stripped down. From a lyrical standpoint it's just storytelling and honesty."
The band has been trying to record a follow-up to their self-titled EP, released in 2009, but life has kept getting in the way. First was all the touring in support of the EP. Then just as they were prepared to settle down and record, they were chosen to compete in the 2011 Peak Performance Project - essentially boot camp for up and coming Vancouver music acts, hosted by the Vancouver radio station. This has led to higher profile gigs and, Rose admits, less certainty on how to proceed with their news songs.
"It's getting frustrating because it's been so long, to be honest. But we keep getting these awesome show and tour opportunities that are just kind of hard to turn. This whole involvement with the Peak has caught us by surprise a little bit," he says.
But they'll get down to work on the new album in the fall. For now, fans will just have to deal with their live show.
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