Matt Malley Interview – ep1

The Internet really should be added to the small world ride at Disney World. Since our last posting concerning a story about befriending a Matt Malley impostorthings have come full circle. As a result of looking for a photo of Matt to add to the post, I found contact info for his production studio in Los Angeles, check it out. I emailed him and told him to check out the post; I know I would get a kick out of it if I were him. Turns out that Matt is a totally cool, generally down to earth guy and contacted me back saying that my story was “BLOODY BRILLIANT”. I am still in disbelief that this story resulted in me actually communicating with the real Matt Malley. He sent me a link to this youtube videoto show some of the things he’s been up to and see if the impostor looked anything like him. They both had glasses and a goatee, that’s it. If anyone else out there has any knowledge relating to the Matt Malley impostor please contact us. As a result of all this communication we asked the Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated songwriter if we could pick his brain and post an interview with him. Here it is..

Matt Malley (far left)

FFTB: Do you feel used having your very own personal impostor?
Malley: No I don’t feel used – I’m actually flattered.  It’s people like you, who were hanging out and befriending someone who was lying to a point of total psychosis that freaks me out!  Everyone knows that people like that are out there but to spend so much time thinking that they were somebody else – it’s downright frightening to think about.

FFTB: What are your musical influences? How do you incorporate those influences into your playing?
Malley: Fairport Convention and anything by Richard Thompson, Peter Gabriel, early Yes, Beatles, Genesis, King Crimson – anything with a good song.  It’s all about the song.  I incorporate them into my playing unconsciously.  It happens but I don’t plan it.

FFTB: Why did you leave the Counting Crows?
Malley: I left C. Crows because I had two little boys at home who were starting to wonder why dad was missing in action – and it was starting to grate too much on my soul.  I’m still friends with the guys in the band and I even appear on their latest record, “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings” on one song, “Sundays”.  They made this record last year, in ’08 and I left the band in ’04.

FFTB: What role does Adam Duritz play in the songwriting process, because when you see the Counting Crows live, he seems more poet than anything else. Is that fair?
Malley: Counting Crows is definitely all about Adam Duritz.  He writes 99% of the music and all of the lyrics.  We were responsible for coming up with our own parts and co-writing with a chord idea or two here and there.
FFTB: When I write music, I don’t have any sort of formula or structured approach, do you?
Malley: I don’t have a structured approach either when writing but my influences do show when I record something I’ve written.

FFTB: Was there ever an opening act that you thought, “man they are better than us”?
Malley: Lots of times we were humbled by our opening acts – early on we had Alex Chilton opening for us – he’s from the ’70’s band, “Big Star” and he was AWESOME.

FFTB: Is it better to be an expert at 1 instrument or good at many?
Malley: In pop/songwriting style of music, I believe it’s better to be good at many instruments than be best at one.  Although in pop/songwriters’ music, it’s all about feel.  I used to think that the Beatles weren’t great musicians since they were playing parts that anyone could play – but after C. Crows made our first record, I learned that the Beatles were actually true masters.  It’s just as hard playing with feel as it is playing, say, Bach or something.  Even though anyone could play their parts, if you were actually doing the recording, you would see how hard it is to play WITH the drums, and others and not “flam” throughout, (flam means to strike a note or chord and have it be at a slightly different time than, say, the kick drum or anything else and when 4 people are playing at the same time, it’s incredibly difficult to sound like one band at the same time!)

FFTB: In doing some reading up on your current projects I noticed that have become heavily involved in Hindustani Classical Music, can you share a little of your experience with this.
Malley: I discovered Indian music through my spiritual practice which is called Sahaja Yoga, (everything is here:  Hindustani Classical Music is a deep lake.  When the Western ear hears it, it’s easily ignored, sounding like background music in an Indian restaurant.  But when you listen to it more often, the ear becomes more subtle and also taking a few lessons on any Indian instrument, (Tabla, Sitar, Sarod, etc), you can learn about things like the “Tihai” which is a phrase which happens during a raag in a pattern of 3; it can be any length but at the end of the whole phrase it has to land on the downbeat.  When you get guys playing Raags in 13 and 1/2 beats, (South Indian style) you can see the incredible math involved in playing this music!  It’s BOTH hemispheres of the brain; the emotional subconscious and the mathematic supra-conscious side.  The yin AND yang!  Balance.

FFTB: What is the best concert you’ve ever been too?
Malley: Best concert…Richard Thompson and his band in 1985, San Francisco at “Wolfgang’s”.

FFTB: Any advice for young aspiring musicians and songwriters?
Malley:  My advice for young musicians and songwriters is to WRITE WRITE WRITE!  By being active in writing, you’re also practicing writing and it improves over time.  All of the respect in the pop and rock music business comes to songwriters.  All of the musicians and instrumentalists in this business are replaceable – it’s ALL about the songwriter.  I was lucky to get some credit in Counting Crows’ catalog – and I’m REALLY lucky to have co-written the Shrek 2 title song, “Accidentally in Love” which got me an Oscar nomination.

Thank you very much for the interview Matt, you are a gentleman and a scholar.  If you are interested in any happenings with Matt Malley please check out the links listed above.


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