I had a chance to talk to Matt Johnson from Matt and Kim before they played at Webster Hall on Tuesday. I learned his inspiration behind the band is to do “rad shit.” He also thinks Kim is cute and that, from time to time, it’s okay to be naked in front of minors.
I’ve heard you say in an interview that the line from “Cameras“, “There’s no time for cameras we’ll use our eyes instead,” is a very Matt and Kim kind of message. What constitutes a Matt and Kim message?
On “Sidewalks,” there’s a lot about living your life. Like, life is a right-now-kind of thing, and I think that a lot of that spawned from Kim and I. We’ve had a really busy past year and a half. So at one point you just have to recognize that you have to fit your life in every single fucking day and a lot of this album relates to that. The “no time for cameras” line is just, like, live your life today. Get it in. Work it out.
I’ve heard Kim say you guys get pegged as cute and you don’t necessarily like it. What would you rather have your audience see you as?
I think fun. I think fun and cute get confused a lot in the sense that we have a good time and we show it. Kim’s pretty cute though so I understand why people get it all twisted up, but we try to counteract it with music videos like our first one which had a bunch of fake blood, even though our “Daylight” video ended up being pretty cute. It never occurred to us that it was going to be cute, we’re just ourselves and are smiley and it comes across as cute. Whenever we can, we try to counteract it with stripping.
Were you full-blown naked in the “Lessons Learned” video?
Oh yeah we took it off. You know, February is a cold month to be naked. We definitely felt it.
I assume there was probably children around. Doesn’t being naked in front of children technically make you a sex offender?
I mean, I have a firm belief, and this came also from the backlash when Erykah Badu did a video that was inspired by our video, that if you’re not doing something sexual there shouldn’t be any shame in just being naked. Everyone’s naked underneath their clothes.
“Sidewalks” is your third album was there anything different you did in the processes of writing or recording than in your previous two albums?
The recording process has been different each time. First album we recorded in a studio in L.A., but we didn’t have any money nor had we ever recorded an album hence we had no idea how long that would take. There wasn’t much money in the record label so that got us nine days in the recording studio, which just meant we had to rush it as fast as we could. So when we went into our second album, “Grand,” we again didn’t have a lot of money to make the recording so we were just like, We’re going to just take this money and we’re going to buy stuff and make this recording ourselves, and we recorded in my childhood home where my parents lived in Vermont. So we had as much time as we wanted to try anything we wanted and it was really sort of stressful, but also we got to make the album we wanted to make so that was awesome.
Now going into “Sidewalks” there was enough money to where we could work in studios with people who knew what the hell they were doing as far as recording an album goes and we still spent as much time as we wanted on it. So it was nice to be able to focus a little more on the music and a little less on how the hell you record music.
“Daylight” was and still is an extremely successful song for you guys. It’s been used for the show “Community,” the Bacardi commercial, “Entourage,” NBA Live. Did you ever expect it to blow up like that?
We never expected anything like that. I never expected “Daylight”, a song that had been recorded in a bedroom, to be a gold single that sold half a million copies. I don’t have any expectations for what “Cameras” or any song will do, I mean all we’ve ever done is just wrote music we like and that we want to hear. And I think a lot that helped “Daylight” and “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” was getting lucky with things like that Bacardi commercial.
When we accepted it, it didn’t even occur to us that people were going to figure out about our band. We liked the commercial, but then millions of people found out about our band. We never made any expectations and we don’t plan on making expectations. We’re super psyched about this album. We made exactly what we wanted to make.
If you could collaborate with any other band or artist who would it be? I suggest Kid Cudi or M.I.A.
I’m sure we would all be a fan of doing that. We’ve talked about what collaborations we’d be interested in doing. Indie bands and rock bands don’t end up doing it that much, but I think we’re in a position where I’d love to collaborate with people. Not long ago we had dinner with Pharrell and we talked about doing a song together so hopefully our schedules line up at some point, but we’ve both been quite busy.
What is your biggest musical inspiration?
It’s weird because it’s not even musical, but the people that are around us or are associated with us that are doing rad shit. Whether it’s photography, or art or writing I’m just like, If they’re doing rad shit, then damn I have to do rad shit too! It just pushes us to work harder and keep us at the top of our game.