The dreariness of winter takes a toll on most of us, but not Matt & Kim. Their latest album, Sidewalks (released on Nov. 2nd), is a bright reminder to live for today. Their influence goes beyond their music. They’ve inspired Erykah Badu to strip down, made thousands of fans dance fanatically at their shows (we’ve witnessed it), and all the while being a model couple. SFCritic asked Matt over the phone a few days after their record release, about Kim, life and staying on the right foot of Sidewalks.
Matt & Kim: “Block After Block”
SFCritic (SFC): Your career has moved so quickly in the last few years. It must be a roller coaster as band members, but what has it been like as a couple for you and Kim?
Matt Johnson (MJ): It’s positive in the sense like the big successes we can celebrate together and both be excited. Also, when we really screw up a show and are bummed, we both can be bummed together, which is even more important.
We’re just on the road so much and busy. It would be tough if the person you were with to understand that there’s hardly anymore time in the day. I’m sure our relationship would have bit the dust a long time ago if one of us wasn’t in this band.
“If I’m dreary I put on Andrew W.K. or something that is like, let’s party! I don’t understand why people want to wallow in their own self-whatever.”
SFC: I recently interviewed Kate Nash, who like you, is often very positive in her music. On her second album, she told me she consciously made it more edgy so she could express frustration during shows when she needed to. Would you ever consider that direction?
MJ: I can understand that for some people that’s how they feel. The thing about what Kim and I do, as tired or worn out or as bad of a day, when we get on stage and everyone is super excited that always bust us out of any funk that we might be in.
SFC: Before you became a performer, what cured your maladies?
MJ: I think Kim and I, our music stems from who we are. We are somewhat lighthearted people and don’t let things crush us too much. [pauses] I don’t know. I think it was an outlet I probably needed.
I was an expert if something was [bothering me] at lying on the couch with nothing happening and staring at the ceiling. I still find that very relaxing.
SFC: Is there any type of music or people you listen to for advice, or when you need pep me up?
MJ: I’m not the type that if I’m feeling dreary to put on music that is dreary and wallow in it. If I’m dreary I put on Andrew W.K. or something that is like, let’s party! I don’t understand why people want to wallow in their own self-whatever.
SFC: On Sidewalks a lot of your songs are optimistic, reminding listeners that everything is good, will be okay, and that there’s plenty to live for. Are you at a point in your life where it’s important to remember that?
MJ: It’s weird trying to sum up the whole album. I remember when we did our first album we released it in Japan and they wanted a one sentence description for every song. We didn’t realize it until we summed it up, but with our first album every song was about figuring your life out. Then on our second album, Grand, there was a lot of stuff about home because it was the first time we were spending a lot of time away from home.
I definitely realized with Sidewalks a common theme was that life is right now. Kim and I were so busy with things over the past year while working on the album. We kept being like, “After we get through this, we’ll take a couple of days for ourselves,” but then those days never come.
There are a lot of people that are just busy with all the work they have to do in life, and it (the album) is just about fitting your own life into everyday. This is it, right now, don’t just wait for tomorrow, for your vacation, live it right now.