Matt (of Matt and Kim) Interview Audio
Nichole Bennett vs. Matt (of Matt and Kim)
The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
March 26, 2009
Nichole Bennett: Cool, I’m Nichole. I’m here with Matt, half of Matt and Kim. Thank you so much for joining us.
Matt Johnson: My pleasure.
NB: They just put on a rocking set here at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia opening for Cut Copy. It was really rad.
MJ: This place is cool. It feels like warehouse style shows in Brooklyn.
NB: Did you know that each of the levels have a name?
MJ: I heard there was Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
NB: Yeah, you guys just played in Heaven.
MJ: Oh really? Yeah it was weird. We were handed all that press for The Haunting, this movie. I don’t know.
NB: You have a notebook?
MJ: I got a notebook! It’s a sweet deal, right? But they had a card that was about…last night we were over at The Drunken Unicorn…on one of the these cards on the back it said that this place was haunted and it’s been falling apart. I was like, “Oh damnit, we gotta go there tomorrow.”
NB: They always say that they are no longer going to have shows. They always say it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it feels like it might.
MJ: The way the equipment goes up and down is so bizarre. Did you see that lift? The way to get everyone’s stuff upstairs…there’s this weird, really janky thing that’s on two wires. I don’t know about that.
NB: So if you were to describe the story of Matt and Kim, or at least the Matt story, would it be a graphic novel or a pop up book?
MJ: I’d say pop-up book only because I’m much more familiar with pop-up books. Actually we’ve been very intrigued by pop-up books. One of the first projects Kim and I did together, before we even tried playing music was that we used to make rock show posters for our friends’ bands in New York that were all pop-up, that had pop-up elements. You could open windows or spin little dials and things like that, and they were all silkscreened. They were awesome except that they would get stolen the first day you put them up. They were a lot of work for the look.
NB: That would be cool for house shows.
MJ: Yeah, depending on the spot. We also didn’t realize that if you put posters up on the street in Brooklyn, it’s a crime. So the cops busted us the first poster.
NB: Man, I didn’t know that. I saw posters all over New York.
MJ: Yeah people, do it, but…
NB: Underground poster putter-uppers. Do you guys ever read your own reviews?
MJ: Well, to begin with, I did. Because when we first started getting reviews and things like that, I was very intrigued. But the thing is we’d get a good review…we’d get band of the week on some website or whatever and then the comments would be hundreds of just haters.
NB: Yeah, only haters comment.
MJ: Yeah those are the ones you want to read. You just want the drama. The nice ones are boring. But all the same, it’s weird because we put so much of ourselves and so much of our time, you know all of our time, into doing this. And it’s not just like hating on the band, it’s like hating on us. But it’s one of those things now. Now Kim gets upset when there’s not enough hate comments. Like on Brooklyn Vegan, it’s the most talked about bands that get the most hate. I realized this when I was looking at an issue of Spin magazine, and it was the reader-voted best and worst bands of 2007 maybe. The lists were almost exactly the same. I think My Chemical Romance was number one on it. They were reader voted best band and reader voted worst band. The list was like exactly the same. Whoever was talked about the most was the most hated and the most liked, whoever was talked about the second most… So, we actually saw a Katt Williams sketch or it’s his standup act. It was actually from here in Atlanta, and he talked about needing haters. “If you only have 15 haters now, you should try to have 20 by summertime.”
NB: I think I’m learning that too. It’s kind of weird the way the internet treats music. It’s kind of an A.D.D. musicality, where you’re like “I’m going to hop on the Hypemachine and see what’s popular this week.” But hate, that’s the key I guess.
MJ: I don’t know. We’ve gone and embraced it. But all the same, it kind of cuts a little deep for me. So I decided it would just be easier to not read it.
NB: How would you describe your sound to maybe a five year old?
MJ: To a five year old? Well, it’s funny because before the band, Kim was a nanny. At the time, I think they were three and four. Now they’re about six and five, but we still go and visit those girls all the time. They’re awesome. They’re the first thing that made me understand parenting. Like, why would anyone want to be a parent? And these two girls are just so cool. And they also love Matt and Kim. I don’t know…how would I describe? Parents come and tell me that they and their kids sing and dance to it. I think it’s funny because the parents like it, and they come to our shows and talk about their kids liking it. So, I think it’s like a sing-along dance party.
NB: That’s a good one. It’s one of the few bands like that.
MJ: Yeah, on the end of the first album, the last track is just us in the studio. I was sick, so I was taking nasal spray and other cold medicines just to keep my nose clear, and I was totally flying on a kite of cold medicine. But it’s just us talking because we were thinking of starting the album with…because we used to always start our shows with “This is Kim and I’m Matt, and we’re Matt and Kim.” But it’s that, and I swear or something. And Kim says, “You can’t swear, Chloe’s going to hear this.” Just because of those two girls she used to nanny she didn’t want us to swear on the album.
NB: Our radio listeners can’t see this, but we are in a magnificent super red van.
MJ: Super red yes!
NB: Oh, is that carpeted wall?
MJ: Oh yeah, that’s a pro job right there, carpeted these wall myself. Kim painted these candy stripes on the back.
NB: Yeah, this is one of the more fancy vans I’ve been in. What do you guys listen to when you’re driving around?
MJ: Well, if you notice, we do not have a CD player or any way to plug in an iPod. We don’t turn the stereo on. That’s a band rule. We don’t listen to music. Everyone has their own iPod. But if you have five people in the van, it becomes a source of a lot of anger having to listen to what other people like. So we decided when we bought this van that we were just not going to put a stereo in.
NB: That’s probably a really good rule. That’s one of the better rules I’ve heard.
MJ: Yeah, so we all listen to our own thing.
NB: What is your favorite dinosaur?
MJ: Dinosaur? I guess the stegosaurus is kind of rad, right?
NB: That’s a good one.
MJ: It’s pretty big. Wait, stegosaurus is the one that has the tail with all the spiky stuff on it?
NB: Yeah. It’s got spikes. I guess we talked about the internet earlier. I know the internet has played a big role in you guys getting your music videos up, which are really fun to watch by the way. Were they as fun to make as they are to watch or is there a lot of work going into that?
MJ: I don’t know. It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’d say “yes.” If you ask Kim, she’d say “no.” We just shot another video a couple of weekends ago before we went on tour for a song called “Lessons Learned,” but the last one that has come out was for “Daylight.” Every situation in that was like Kim’s most hated situation. We play inside a dumpster, and we were told the dumpster would be a clean dumpster. But that didn’t really mean clean as much as the large garbage was pulled out. There was this thick inch of grime on the walls, and she was just hating being in there. But if you watch, she’s smiling. There’s different forms of Kim smiling. If she’s very uncomfortable, she smiles. She’s happy, she smiles. When she’s terrified, she gets this crazy squeaky wheel laugh. We went to go see some horror movie in the theater, and as someone’s getting sliced and diced and chopped up—that stuff freaks her out—and she just started laughing hysterically. And people are like, “Who’s that messed-up girl laughing at this stuff?” Oh yeah, so she hated being in that dumpster. She hates getting water in her face. We played in the shower. Whenever she goes swimming—have you ever seen a cat try to swim?
NB: Yeah I hate that too.
MJ: They’re just trying to keep their head above water at all cost. She hated getting water in her face. She’s kind of claustrophobic. She hated being in there. Yeah, so it was her nightmare. Our “Yea Yeah” video was fun to shoot for the three and a half minutes that we actually shot it for. And then the six hours of cleaning up with weird stuff in our hair…it was just the grossest smell.
NB: You guys just came from Austin, Texas didn’t you? From South By Southwest?
MJ: Sort of. We’ve been to Austin twice in the last month. We started this tour with Cut Copy in Austin and then looped over to the west coast. We had a day off between Chicago and Toronto, and we were like “Days off are for weak people.” So we decided we would fly back down on that one day off for South By Southwest.
NB: Yeah, I was like “Where are they coming from?!”
MJ: And then we flew back up to Toronto. We flew Toronto to New York, then over to Boston. We had to drive over night back to New York. And then D.C. It’s been really crazy. But we had the day off yesterday. We just got to hang out in Atlanta.
NB: You guys are sticking around for a little while. There’s some Athens and some Asheville action going on.
MJ: Yeah, well we’ll be back and then we’ll be in the area. We go from here to Orlando, then Miami, then Tallahasee, then Gainesville. Then I think we’ll be back up.
NB: A lot of people skip Florida. I bet they’ll be really happy.
MJ: Yeah, it’s one of those things that to get to the tip is sort of out of the way. But you can also do a lot of shows in Florida. We’re excited to be where it’s warm. Like here.
NB: If Matt and Kim had a catchphrase, what would it be?
MJ: It would be “You can’t threaten me with a good time.”
NB: And I’ll leave you with this last question: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
MJ: I’d have to be a dog. Kim and I are both nuts about dogs. Even though we couldn’t have one because we live in an eight foot wide apartment in Brooklyn, and we travel nine months out of the year. But, we’ll go and get cups of tea and coffee and go to the dog park and just lurk.
NB: Like a child predator, but with dogs.
MJ: We don’t really know the policy. Like when Kim was a nanny, you’re not supposed to go into a playground unless you’re with a child. So are you not supposed to go in the dog park unless you have a dog? Yeah I think we’d both be dogs.