““The first thing that hits you is how the Matinee seems not of its time, the country-tinged songs instead evoking an era when Tom Petty and Neil Young were kings and FM radio was programmed by music fans. What also stands out is the way that the group sounds like it couldn’t be happier to be alive…” – Mike Usinger – The Georgia Straight.
“A change of scene would do ya some good,” confesses Matt Layzell, vocalist for roots rock band, The Matinee, on the title track of their 4th studio album produced by Nashville’s Steve Dawson. With a dreamy ramble, the band takes listeners on a serene and distant journey before dropping them off right at the comfort of their own front steps. It’s a sentiment that resonates with damn near anyone, capturing the desire for a break from the monotony of daily life.
After 15 years of criss-crossing the continent, the Vancouver based group could be forgiven for growing tired of life on the road—endless drives and sleepless nights. “We don’t like to sit still for too long,” laughs Layzell. “You kind of get used to life in motion, and I think I depend on it for the stories that we write about.” In a world full of distractions, the band realized that their trusty tour van held the key to sustaining their career and embarking on a new chapter.
Seizing a break in their touring schedule, the band’s four founding members— Layzell, Matt Rose (guitar, vocals), Geoff Petrie (guitar, vocals), and Peter Lemon (vocals, drums) —set off on a wild excursion through the majestic Pacific Northwest in search of inspiration. As they roamed the winding coastal roads, the band’s creative shackles crumbled, paving the way for an outpouring of melodies and lyrics that filled a communal notebook and were rehashed in motel rooms each night. It was in the untamed beauty of nature that they found themselves and a new lease on their artistic life.
“As soon as we crossed the border and realized we didn’t have a schedule, no real destination, we just started bonding in a way that I think we had forgotten about,” recalls Rose. “There was no pressure to be anywhere at any particular time, and I think that allowed us to soak in the experience a little more deeply and remember what it’s like to be four lifelong friends.”
The journey took them to Portland where they caught up with their friend Whitney Rose (whom they shared countless stages with while each honed their crafts during a stint in Toronto) before continuing down the coastline to explore the natural wonder that is the dunes. “I’m always the one trying to convince the guys to stop and play tourist when we are on tour… this time ’round they couldn’t really say no,” adds Layzell. The ever-changing landscape of the sand dunes became a perfect metaphor for the road trip and their quest for a new perspective—a fresh way of seeing the same views they’ve encountered countless times.
In an industry driven by trends, it’s easy for artists to feel the pressure to find what works and repeat it. However, The Matinee, never ones to take the shortcuts, have constantly explored the reaches of their sound and sought out collaborators to assist them in the process. Their first three albums saw them working with notable producers Steve Berlin, Steve Bays, and Jamie Candiloro – each known for their own unique approaches to making records.
For their forthcoming album, The Matinee chose to work with Dawson (Matt Andersen, Old Man Luedecke, Birds of Chicago), staying true to their creative selves while changing up the process and trusting in their own abilities. Dawson insisted on capturing the essence of their performances and the energy of a band that has been connecting on a musical level for so long. Breaking with tradition, they recorded the songs live off the floor, letting go of the pursuit of perfection. Over the course of nine days, divided into two sessions at two Vancouver recording studios, the band – which also includes keyboardist Georges Couling and bassists Marcus Abramzik and Joseph Lubinsky trading off on duties – set up in the round, and got to work, letting the songs they had nurtured on their road trip speak for themselves. The result is nine new tracks that showcase The Matinee at their best—listening to their inner storyteller and relaying human moments gleaned from collective experiences that listeners can easily place within the context of their own lives. From the instant classic “Bad Addiction” with its heavy dose of southern soul, to their roll down your windows and sing along driving tune “Road To Hell,” and the groovy, car commercial inspired, catchy track “Shake It,” Change of Scene, beckons us to join the band on their transformative journey through honest, heartfelt storytelling and simplistic sonic revelry. It stands as a testament to The Matinee’s unwavering belief in the power of song and music as vessels for human connection.
At a time when popular music often leans toward the formulaic and the predictable, The Matinee stands strong and true to their craft and the influences of their youth. With ‘Change of Scene’, the band brings us along with them on this next leg of a 15 year adventure, reminding us of the importance of embracing change in our own lives. It is during these moments of vulnerability that discoveries are made, and the magic we often seek happens right before our eyes.
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