Matt Steele & The Corvette Sunset is the coolest band name I’ve ever heard and it’s also our interview guest this week! Having released their new album Half Girl Half Ghost earlier this year, the band seem to have settled in to the world of music quite nicely. Now, fresh off the release of new single ‘Handshake Deal’ comes a wonderful little chinwag. We talk about the band’s formation, the new album as well as the importance of music videos.
Hey Matt Steele of Matt Steele & The Corvette Sunset, how’s it going? It’s going alright! Pretty busy, trying to manage my course load at school (I’m studying for a BSc in Recreation Therapy) while keeping up the music business. So, while it’s a lot going on, I certainly can’t complain.
First of all, what got you into making music? I have a pretty musical family (relatives include Juneau-award nominees Lennie Gallant and Ten Strings & A Goatskin), so I was bitten by the bug early. Growing up, I would visit Prince Edward Island, Canada in the summers and write silly kid songs with my cousins, and I just got a kick out of writing and performing. My mother made me play violin, and I worked my way up to playing in youth symphony orchestras, but ultimately nothing satisfied like trying to make music in the more popular ways (rock, singer-songwriter, etc). Ultimately, my brain is just wired to get a buzz out of music-making.
Your debut album Half Girl Half Ghost has been out a little while now. Looking back, are you pleased with how it’s turned out and the reaction it’s received? I am! The album has received some great reviews from writers I really respect, people are responding well, the radio support we’ve had is great, and the cherry on top was the four Music Nova Scotia Award nominations we received. I could’ve seen us getting a nomination for rock or group recording of the year (though it’s a strong year for rocknroll in Nova Scotia), but to get both of those nominations plus two more is a real high moment for us this year! I think it certainly puts us in a position to keep going onward and upward.
What can you tell us about your new single from the album, ‘Rescue Ship’? I study and volunteer in mental health, plus I’ve had my run ins with friends, partners, and my own mental health difficulties. I think this song was influenced by the idea (however un/healthy), that when you’re down in the depths, you want to put all your recovery eggs in one basket. Often that’s just one person, usually your partner. We all want to be saved by love, don’t we?
In terms of its sound, I would say it’s bit like if Ryan Adams tried to write one of those softer and sultry Queens of the Stone Age tunes. A bit of a departure from our power pop rave-up “Handshake Deal”. I wrote the song initially as very aggressive stoner rock, a dark and mysterious come-on – you can hear its echoes in the little guitar riff. I think making it softer and more vulnerable is what made the song catch people’s ears so far.
Will we see a music video for the single much like you did for ‘Handshake Deal’? We have one in the works! Possibly two treatments, even. That first video was a calling card – here’s our band, here’s Matt bopping around, here’s the song. We want Rescue Ship and whatever’s next after that to be a little more arty.
Speaking of music videos, do you feel they can still play a big part in the modern era of Music? I 100% think so. First, they’re important because you need at least a 15 second music video clip to get anyone’s attention in this social media ad landscape. I’ve clicked on an attention-grabbing video or two and found some great artists.
Second, I think they’re just a lovely extension of the artists’ musical ideas and brand, if they’re done right. A really great example is the music video series for Jessie Brown’s album Keeping Appearances. Mo Kenney has some great videos too, we actually found our director for “Handshake Deal” because he directed her song “Unglued”. Like I said in the previous question, I’m hoping we can shy away from any “band playing the song” videos for a while if at all possible. We want to tell some cool stories with our music if we can.
What’s planned for the band for the rest of 2018? We are plotting some December tour dates & 2019 festival applications, working out a management deal, and getting ready for Nova Scotia Music Week. We’re playing two showcases there, plus it’s a great four day party with all our friends in the business! I’m in my final year of university, so we’re trying to manage a level of activity and growth that keeps me from getting overwhelmed while still keeping the momentum going. After that, it’s off to the races!
Finally, if you could close out this interview with one final thought, what would it be? To all of your readers out there, your mental health is important! Take time to take care of yourself.
Bonus thought: Check out more of my compatriots in the East Coast Canada music scene, we’ve got a lot of great artists around here!