A couple of weeks ago I spent an entertaining evening with Matt Baird (and some local talent) at a coffee shop, where Matt was performing an acoustic set. He had been traveling for 2 weeks playing acoustic gigs, just him, his guitar, and his family. The city of Minot, where I currently reside, was his final stop before a very short 2-day break until it was back on the road again, this time with the entire band in tow. The tiny coffee shop was filled with young aspiring artists, and as each performed Matt paid close attention. At one point, he leaned over to me and asked in a hushed voice, “Who is that? He sounds really good,” curious about a certain local musician. Matt was the headliner, yet there were few Spoken fans to be found. For many in attendance, this was their first exposure to any sort of Christian rock music (even if it was an acoustic show).
As the locals played on, when Matt wasn’t commenting on the level of talent, he was being a model parent, making sure his little one wasn’t running where he shouldn’t be. I got the sense that these mini-tours that he sets out on, when he is able to bring his whole family, is his version of a family vacation. There was no charge for the event and I’m sure he was only offered gas money, but the money didn’t matter: just the opportunity to travel for a couple of weeks with his loved ones was the blessing. Of course, if he’s lucky enough to cajole his appreciative listeners to throw in a few restaurant gift cards, you’ll hear a hearty, “Thank you very much.” Both times I’ve seen Matt play a solo acoustic show, he opens his guitar case and sets it in front of him. Then, he encourages his audience to toss in money, change, gift cards, or anything else he could spend. He carries with him the spirit of those who perform on the streets, playing for the joy of playing and to bring joy to others. After his performance, he was kind enough to chat with me for a few moments. Since he was on his way to Minneapolis that night, he didn’t have much time to talk. But he did hint about a new album! (Please forgive the delay in posting, the Norma Jean tour is wrapping up at the end of the week).
Matt: Today is the last day of a 2 week acoustic tour that I did. I’ll be home for 2 days then we leave with Norma Jean for 2 weeks starting on February 20th. It’ll take us up to March 8th.
IVM: What was the response to Illusion, it’s been out for just over a year?
Matt: Yeah, it’s been a year and three days now. It’s been awesome. It’s been cool to spend two and a half years writing and recording a record, then it finally comes out and we’ve toured on it all year. I think it was the right record at the right time.
IVM: The album was pushed back, and it came out quite a few years after your last effort. It must have been a big change in the crowd. The fans were waiting for something, and then this came out after such a long span. Was it a whole new generation of fans that were discovering Illusion or a lot of the old ones too?
Matt: You know I think the thing with it being 5 years between the self-titled record and then with Illusion coming out, our fans had been patient for so many years. Some of them were getting a little impatient, but that was because we were like, “We’ll have a new record soon, we’ll have a new record soon.” But I think they were glad once it finally came out because it was a little different. The people who liked heavy music, they got that. The people that aren’t so into that they got “Through It All” and “Calm The Storm”, stuff like that. I think they got a good mix of a record, so the people who were getting impatient, they were ok with it. Then with us doing the Volbeat tour, that put us in front of a whole new fan base as well. I don’t think we could have asked for better timing.
IVM: Have you been working on a new album?
Matt: We have been talking a lot about a new album. We plan on starting the demo process in the next couple weeks.
IVM: Ooh, ok. An IVM reader asked a question about B-sides or EPs. There was such a long time between the albums that there has got to be some B-sides that you had for the album.
Matt: No. There’s not. We wrote songs, we threw songs away. We finished songs, we took choruses from songs, used them on a certain song, a bridge…no, there were no leftovers. There was stuff that, what we felt, wasn’t good enough to hold up with what was on the record, so those are lost and forgotten. No B-sides. The record that is Illusion are the songs that were done.
IVM: Well, his kids are running away, he needs to get back to parenting (laughs). So Matt, we really enjoyed the solo performance, thanks for chatting for a quick minute. I’m so glad to hear you guys are talking about a new album and hopefully it won’t be another 5 years before we see another Spoken album.
Matt: No, I think…I’m hoping that we can get into the studio sometime this year and have a record out early next year.
IVM: That would be awesome. Alright Matt, thank you so much.
Matt: Absolutely, thank you.