Q&A: Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim

First dating and then moving on to music, Matt & Kim have been indie-pop sensations for years now. The band has developed a penchant for playing simple tunes that never fail to get a crowd dancing. The Brooklyn-dwellers have been busy since taking off from their albums “Grand” and “Sidewalks.” On tour now with My Chemical Romance and Blink-182, the peppy duo is playing shows across the country and getting ready for a winter of recording. The State Press spoke with Matt Johnson about their recent collaborative track and life on the road.

The State Press: Recently, you worked with Converse on the Three Artists, One Song project. Your collaboration was with Soulja Boy and Andrew W.K. How did that combo come together?

Matt Johnson: I understand how that seems random in a musical way, but Kim and I had been working on a song together with Converse. They asked us who we thought it would be cool to work with. They gave us full range to shoot out ideas while they were giving us ideas as well. We’re huge fans of hip hop and Soulja Boy was one of the names that came up. So we were like, “Yeah, we’d love to have him on it.” After he signed on, we tried to think of another artist for so long. Then one day, just out of the clouds, Andrew W.K. occurred to me. So while I think we sound really different musically, all three of us are about making fun music.

SP: How’d you feel about the end result, then?

MJ: Everyone was really excited about which was, again, trending from people with a rock background, a hip hop, and even a pop background. We felt successful being able to make a song that everyone could be excited about. So it was really fun because you don’t get to collaborate on stuff often. It was great.

SP: Speaking of working with other bands, you’re now touring with My Chemical Romance and Blink-182. How many shows are you guys performing on the tour?

MJ: I think we’re doing 25? That’s a guess. More than 20, less than 30.

SP: I heard that a few nights ago you had to cover for Tom because he lost his voice.

MJ: Oh, yeah. We were in Detroit, and he had a cold —which he’s doing better from now — but he had lost his voice. So, the day of the show, an hour before we were supposed to go on, Mark comes into the room and asks if I’m willing to sing one of their songs on stage. Now this is a sold out show with thousands of people in Detroit without ever practicing it. I mean, I knew the song and I knew some words, but by no means did I know all of the words. The first time we were going to try this was on stage. I was just like, this is a terrible idea … okay, I’ll do it. It ended up being fun.

SP: How has been getting to know the guys of the bands?

MJ: We’ve definitely been becoming friends. It’s weird because Kim and I are both really big fans of Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance and have been for quite some time. Blink’s been around for what, the past 15 years? It’s wild to get to be on tour with them and begin hanging out together. You get to realize that this music you’ve liked for so long is by really cool people. They’re totally friendly and fun to hang out with. It’s definitely a bit surreal.

SP: And Kim, the only girl on the tour! Has she been getting in touch with her inner testosterone?

MJ: Kim is always in touch with her masculine side. She’s always hanging with the guys. She can outdo me any day of the week with testosterone. But there are plenty of women, like designers and such, who are working the tour. She’s happy to have girls around, but she’s never intimidated by the guys.

SP: How do you two feel like you’ve been received so far on the tour?

MJ: We were nervous coming in because we know what being the first of three on these tours is like. You’re not going to have a full room when you go on and there are not going to be a lot of people that know you. But you can feel on stage when you’re winning the crowd over. You can tell if they’re smiling or not.  And after the shows, I’ve always felt positive about our effect. I’m pretty confident in our ability to get through to people who don’t know our band because we play simple enough music that even if you hear a song once, by the end you’re singing along to the chorus. So it’s been way better than we thought it would be.

SP: After the tour wraps up, what’s next for the duo?

MJ: During the fall, we have some shows for some radio stations and colleges but essentially, in the winter, we’re planning on recording our next album, which we’re really excited about. Some bands are able to write on the road, but that’s not really us. So we have to sit down and start writing new stuff. We’re just excited to get back into the studio and make new music.

SP: So, if not on the road, where do you guys feel best writing and recording?

MJ: We’re going to do it just in our house. Our album “Grand” we recorded in a bedroom at my parents’ house. Then, for “Sidewalks” we worked in a studio, but we’re just ready to go back to doing it ourselves again. We just got this new house, so we’re ready to head back to Brooklyn for the winter. I’m looking forward to the experience, even though I know by the end of it I’m going to be tearing my hair out and get super stressed out. I’m still excited about the prospects.

 

Reach the reporter at lkjorda1@asu.edu

 

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