Matt Nathanson


Matt Nathanson leaves the big labels behind and finds himself independently

Matt Nathanson :
: Bluebird Theatre :: November 3
:: Aggie Theatre :: November 4
:: Fox Theatre :: November 5

By Yvette Rebik

With his recent departure from Universal Records, Massachusetts-born, San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson has returned to his independent roots. He’s back on the road showcasing upcoming material from next summer’s new studio album, as well as classics from his extensive catalog, dating back to 1993.

Between building new  relationships with his audience and leaving a major record label, Nathanson is just beginning to catch his stride. Making witty remarks and dropping F-bombs left and right, Nathanson revealed to The Marquee what is most important to him in the music business.

“I’m back to being independent, and dude, it’s so cool,” he said. “I thought that if I signed with a major, I would get this influx of money, knowledge and great people to help work on records. Sure it was fantastic and fun, but I realized that I couldn’t do anything on my own.”

Nathanson didn’t want to compromise his musical values for the perks of being on a major label like Universal. The thought of giving up the masters to a record disappointed him. According to Nathanson, selling “fifty-something thousand records” did not seem important to the label. He disagreed.

“I thought, ‘Dude, fuck that’s great! We pushed the button and now we’re getting it,’ but they only know how to take something to radio, and they only know how to spend money from its reaction on radio.”

After not seeing eye-to-eye on several issues, Nathanson parted with the label on good terms. He thought Universal was a fantastic label, but he just didn’t fit in with them. He left with more confidence in what he wanted to do with his music and returned to the life as an independent musician.

In order to pay the bills and put food on the table, Nathanson hit the road. By touring all the time, not only does he make good money, but he also builds a strong fan base. To him, the most important thing about playing live is building a connection with the audience.

“When I used to go see certain people play, like Richard Thompson and Greg Brown, they would tell these rad stories. Even if I didn’t know the song, they would set up the song in such a way that I was engaged,” said Nathanson. This connection is exactly what he strives for in his own shows.

“Dude, it’s the only way to go. It’s so fucking uninspiring when a band blasts through their songs and doesn’t pay any attention to the people. To me, if a crowd is engaged, it makes it a better show,” he said.

Nathanson uses the comedic side of his personality to establish a relationship and eliminate any distance from the fans. Laughter is the best way to break down a barrier in conversations, he said, and Nathanson isn’t afraid to use that to reveal his true personality.

“I’m just me. I’m a total music dork who’s fucking up on stage with verbal diarrhea,” he said.

Right now, Nathanson isn’t certain if he’ll be searching for a new label anytime soon, but he also said that he’s not ruled it out. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again, but to get off Universal felt right because I didn’t really want to be there. We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to shop around for another deal, but if I start thinking too much about it, it’ll never work out. You just have to stick to the immediate plan.”

Matt Nathanson :

: Bluebird Theatre :: November 3

:: Aggie Theatre :: November 4

:: Fox Theatre :: November 5

Spectate if you Gravitate:

• Howie Day

• Greg Brown

• Marc Broussard

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