Written by Lindsey Borders
It’s no secret that Matthew Mayfield is one of the best artists you’ll ever see in concert or have the pleasure to meet. His music is genuine and has the endearing quality that invites you to listen to more, and to keep the tunes on repeat. Always fascinated with music, Matthew has been playing since the age of 11 when he received his first bright red Gibson Les Paul guitar. Since going solo in 2008, Matthew has released eight EP’s and one full-length record, Now You’re Free, recorded and produced by Paul Moak, and features appearances by Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars. With his new EP, Irons In The Fire, another fan-funded project through PledgeMusic, it features four new tracks. These include two re-masters, one remix and an acoustic version of the singles included on the EP. To gear up for Matthew’s CD release party at Eddie’s Attic on Friday, June 14, we chatted with Matthew about Irons in the Fire, what his fans mean to him and his music, including his dream line-up. Check it out:
How was the recording process for Irons in the Fire, and how was it different than your previous recordings?
We always change it up which keeps it fun. Sometimes it was just a performance-based thing (i.e. ‘Follow You Down’) and other times it was built from the ground up with lots of elements in the atmosphere (i.e. ‘Miles & Miles’). I always love to try new things and go for new sounds, but at the end of the day it all comes back to the sincerity of the song and the conviction with which it’s sung and played.
You have completed several PledgeMusic campaigns with and for fans to become directly involved with your music. How is each campaign unique, and how do you think fan-funding is crucial to music today?
It’s truly changed everything for artists like me. Without true fans that are willing to get involved, the last three records wouldn’t have happened. Now You’re Free was the first, A Banquet For Ghosts was second, and Irons In The Fire is our third successful joint effort with fans and Pledge. To me, it’s all about giving people the things I would have wanted from my favorite artists if they had been using this platform back then. Everything is one-of-a-kind for the most part. There are no duplicates or stamps — it’s all right from my hand. I think that personal touch is what keeps people coming back and helps create a loyal fan base.
How do you connect your music with a crowd?
As lame as it sounds, I just play from my heart. I don’t over think it. If a song on the setlist doesn’t feel right, I’ll skip it and play something that does. I think having that freedom is what being an artist is all about. And honestly, I think that’s what crowds want. They want authenticity and passion.
With each album, you hope each individual who listens to it, has a positive experience with it. What do you hope people take away with them after listening to Irons In The Fire?
My only hope is that it takes them somewhere. Like my favorite records do. I want you to be able to put your headphones in, close your eyes, and experience a song. That’s why I make records. All the sonic elements are there for a reason. We’ll put something in the left speaker for a certain effect or we’ll widen the spectrum with something else to add more depth. All of it is done with a certain intention — and for me, it’s to give the listener a true experience. That can be done with one microphone and an acoustic guitar or a 20-piece orchestra and 8,000 vocal tracks. It’s all about the song.
What’s the best gig that you ever performed?
Hmmm. It’s impossible to say what’s been the best over the years as I’ve been lucky to play some really memorable shows. However, this past fall when I was out with Needtobreathe, the crowd in Spokane, WA was absolutely insane. Usually when you’re an opener, you’re fighting with chatty crowds that are ready to hear the headliner. That’s totally normal and I’m used to it. But in Spokane, I felt like Mick Jagger walking out there. And they never stopped. Some nights you find the sweet spot and you can do no wrong. I got lucky and found that spot in front of 1,800 folks who were truly listening to every word. I felt truly thankful for the job I have in that moment.
What would be the line-up for your dream gig?
The decadent side of me would say this:
Opener: Myself and my band, The Blue Cut Robbery
Direct support: The original lineup of Guns N’ Roses
Headliner: Led Zeppelin (with Jason Bonham, John’s son, on drums)
The folky side of me would say:
Opener: Me and a guitar
Direct Support: Ryan Adams solo
Headliner: Bruce Springsteen solo
Y’know, just a small little tour.
Thanks, Matthew, for interviewing with us!
Matthew will be hosting his CD Release party at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. For tickets, click below: