August 18, 2007
By Eric Pettersson
Eric Pettersson, IVM: Can you start with your name and what you do in the band?
Matt Baird, Spoken: My name is Matt from the band Spoken, Matt Baird, I sing.
E: Your band’s been around for ten years?
M: Eleven years. February was eleven years. Started in 1996.
E: What keeps you going?
M: the desire to play music and to feel like I’m being obedient to God. We love music. We love it, and until I have that overwhelming feeling in my heart and soul that I’m done, I can’t stop. I would go nuts. I really would. When music is in your blood, you have to do it.
E: It’s been two years since your last release. How have you grown since then?
M: Well, we’ve toured a lot since then, which we always tour, it’s just… when you tour on a new record and it has new topics or maybe certain songs that people relate to maybe a little differently than before, there’s all these different conversations about those songs and stuff that you grow by hearing people’s stories or their translations of the songs, you know, how it affected them, so it’s extremely encouraging, so I feel like I’ve been encouraged a lot in this past year. My wife and I had a child, so it’s our first child. We bought a house, you know what I mean? All this stuff, so, I’ve kind of grown up a lot this year. I think I’m finally starting to realize what wisdom is, and that’s just everything as a whole. Not about music, not about being a dad, not about being a husband. Everything. I feel like God is in the refining process, like “Hey, seriously, here’s what matters.” And priorities change. And I think it’s great that as long as you’re trying to be obedient to God that He’s gonna move you. And I just wanna grow. The desire is to completely grow closer to God, to be a better husband, to be a better father. You know? But, we’ll see. We’ll see what God does.
E: You said about new topics. I noticed with the last CD, it started out with a bunch of love songs and then towards the end moved into a bunch of worship songs, I guess…
M: Yeah, yeah, I guess you could say that. We didn’t really set it up that way as far as song arrangement. It just happened, like the songs flowed good that way. And I love singing songs about my wife, and just always trying to write… my thing before we write each record is like God, you write it, because I will only screw it up if I try to put it in my own words, or like oh I wanna write about this or that, let God guide the steps, and hopefully it turns out okay. On the new record, there’s a song about my wife and my son, in the same song, so it’s like that’s a whole other swing for me. But there’s just a lot of topics on the record. I’m excited about it. I’m excited about people hearing it.
E: What have you been writing about on the new one?
M: There’s a song about redemption. It’s a song called “History Erased.” It’s one we have on myspace right now. Our history can’t be undone, cause what is done is done, but it can be erased, with the whole clean slate mindset. When you come to know Jesus, you get a clean slate. Or when you repent, you get a clean slate, so it’s a song about redemption that way, starting over, moving on from your mistakes. Of course try not to make those again, but at the same time, there’s always someone watching, always, who’s standing there watching for you to fall, so try to ignore those people and move on. That’s one. There’s a song about this kid I talked to a while back who was way down in the dumps. He had gotten arrested for some stuff. He’s like “I wanna be in a band, but I could never do that. I’m not good enough. I’m just not good enough.” And I got to thinking like, who told him that? Like, who told him you cannot do this? I’m not saying that his musical ability was where it might have needed to have been to be in a band, but it’s like, somewhere along the line, all of us hear, oh you can’t do that, or you’ll never do that, and so it’s like not listening to those people and just, once again, moving forward with your life. And just songs about love, songs about repentance.
E: There was also a big variety of music on Last Chance to Breathe. Like “Love in Return” was kind of slow, and “Bitter Taste” was pretty crazy. What made you branch out like that?
M: You know, we’ve always had an edge to the band, but at the same time, we’ve always, on each record, we’ve had at least one song that was kind of slow, kind of, you know, not as heavy. And last year we toured with a lot of metal bands. We really did, and it was amazing, so on this new record there’s some heavier songs. I mean, there’s three really heavy songs on the record, but yet there’s the softest song we’ve ever done. It’s a mostly piano driven song with some drum loops and stuff. And it’s cohesive, you know? It works. It’s not something where it’s like oh where’d that song come from? When you listen to the record as a whole, it fits. We have a song on the record about hope, it’s actually the radio single right now. There’s just a lot of different things. But also getting new members, each person brings a new idea, like how about we do this, or could we try this, or why not this, and all this stuff, and you’ve got five opinions, and you take those five opinions, and you mix ‘em all up and you throw them into a song and see if they work. And if it doesn’t work, you don’t play the song, you don’t write the song, you don’t record the song.
E: This is your sixth album coming out, right?
M: Yeah, sixth album.
E: So why is this one self-titled?
M: Cause we always wanted one. I know that I’ve always wanted a self-titled record, but we’re always like oh let’s do this, let’s do this, and a lot of times, the artwork is built around the title of the album. And this time, we kind of didn’t decide on like hey, what title are we gonna have? We just all couldn’t come up with the same one, like oh I like this, or I like this, or like I’m not sure about that, but we’re all like why couldn’t it just be a self-titled? Everyone agreed on that. It was like yeah, why couldn’t it be? And that’s what we wanted, and with the artwork that Invisible Creature came up with, it didn’t need a title. So it totally fell together really good, and plus we’ve always wanted a self-titled album.
E: Could you tell me a little more about The Syndicate?
M: Yeah, street team! We started trying to figure out stuff with a street team years ago, and it just didn’t come to fruition. It didn’t come to that point where like okay, street team is ligit, it’s ready to go, whatever. So recently we’ve been working with a guy who’s really helped us to get things together and we’re serious about it, we wanna make it work and a better way to connect with our fans, and just get to know them better as people, the same way they can get to know us as people. Instead of just oh it’s Matt from Spoken, you know it’s like Matt: he’s the singer from Spoken, it’s like, here’s who he is. It’s not just… too often, people only know the name of the person. They don’t know anything about them. So this is a good way to just tie into that.
E: This is your third CD with Tooth & Nail. How are things going with them?
M: Amazing. We love it. We absolutely love it. Great label. Great bands on the label. We’re totally stoked. No complaints whatsoever.
E: Will any of you older, pre-Tooth & Nail stuff ever resurface somehow in like a rarities or greatest hits?
M: You know, it is out of print. It’s been a year and a half/two years since we’ve gotten any of those, cause we just can’t get a hold of those anymore. But they sell really quick, so it’s kind of hard to keep a hold of them. But you know, we are trying to figure that out. That’s all I can say. We’re having conversations with people about that, to see about being able to get it going again. Just for those that may not have gotten it, we’re working on it.
E: Listening to your last CD, there are a lot of different sounds that go into that. Who are your major influences?
M: There are so many. We all listen to so many different styles of music, all of us. Whatever. I love everything except Southern Gospel, like really, it drives me crazy. I wish it didn’t, but it does. I’m fine with jazz, I love country music, Keith Urban is my favorite artist. I’m wearing a Keith Urban shirt [points down to his shirt]. We love classic rock, we love metal. We love R&B, some hip-hop. You know, anything, really. Each person has a favorite band and it kind of comes out in their writing style. Brandon, our bass player’s favorite band is Smashing Pumpkins. Aaron, our guitar player, his favorite band is Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oliver’s favorite band is probably Blindside, that’s our drummer. Jeff, our guitar player’s favorite band is Metallica. And that’s before The Black Album, okay? My favorite artist, is Keith Urban, but forever it was Bon Jovi. So, it’s really crazy, but I really love country music, and it doesn’t really come across in our music. But, who knows? Maybe someday it will.
E: With going on tour so much and being away from your home, how do you remain spiritually alive?
M: Music plays a great part in that as well. We all try to read. Before we took the last break, we’re like “Alright, on this break, everyone read Romans!” You just try to stick with that and just read whatever, certain books, anything, seeking books on how to grow deeper with God. Music… just listening to praise and worship, listening to some band that has something to say that you’re like, “Man. Yes. I relate to that.” Small groups at home. With me, it’s my wife and I. My wife is the most godly person I know. So that’s that. On the road, it’s phone conversations home, really. Phone calls home. We know some amazing people on the road, fans pour into our lives, as far as spiritual things. Certain promoters at shows. If we play churches, you’ve got the pastors that are there. You have people that prepare our food, this lady that cooked our food that night and just talking to them. We have a lot of accountability. A lot. And I think that’s how we kind of keep it intact. And the fact that we have hours upon hour a day driving, you have plenty of time just to pray, the whole time. And plus, as much as you travel, you see all of God’s creation, thanking Him for it. And just questioning, “What is this? Why did You invent mosquitoes? What the heck?” It’s a combination of a lot of things.
E: Cool. What’s something that God’s been teaching you lately?
M: I feel like God’s always teaching me patience, like always. Something recently is “I’m in control no matter what.” That’s what God is saying. God is in control, no matter what. Upon anything, whether it be financial, loneliness, just missing my wife and child on the road, dealing with promoters that maybe didn’t treat you right at a show, people that were rude for no reason whatsoever and you’re puzzled by it. All this stuff is just like… take a deep breath, swallow… I’m going to do the best I can in this situation. Try my best to show people Jesus, show them grace. And God has taught me that hope in Him is all that we have. That’s it.
E: Two part question: Christian band or Christians in a band? And what’s your take on that whole debate?
M: Spoken is a Christian band. There’s no way around it. We talk about Jesus every show, whether we play at a bar, a church, a school auditorium, outside at a park, someone’s basement. Jesus is mentioned because we believe that all that has to be done is to mention the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will work. Therefore, I can’t make someone come to know Jesus, only the Holy Spirit can. So I’m not gonna spend twenty minutes talking about it. I am going to show them love, I’m going to treat them with respect and I’m going to let God work. That’s that. My whole take on it: it’s not about Christian bands, or Christians in a band to me, it’s are you a Christian? If you claim it, live it.
E: Last question: how can we pray for you?
M: Oh, gosh… just pray for safe travels. I mean, we travel so much. Pray for our families at home. Pray for our traveling vehicles. Pray for us as guys, I mean, we’re a bunch of dudes on the road and we want to do what’s right. We want to live our lives with integrity. And pray for us for when we play with non-Christian bands that we can be a positive influence to them, because that is our desire. Christian bands are around Christian bands all the time. Very rarely are non-Christian bands surrounded by Christian bands, and I don’t want them to feel awkward. But at the same time, I want them to know that there is something different about this band. So just pray that God will move. Really, pray that God will move in our lives and in our ministry and that’s probably the best thing.
E: Alright, anything else you’d like to add?
M: Thank you, very much, to everyone for paying attention to our band and for taking the time to listen.