Photo by Matt Johnson
Sure two-time ARIA winner Matt Corby may look like he’s high on mung bean salad, fresh out of the surf and living in some commune where everyone votes on whether to discipline a neighbour for referring to a companion animal as a pet. But it’s all a con, right?
After two top five albums (his debut, Telluric, a #1; last year’s Rainbow Valley #4) he probably lives in an inner-city high rise and goes to bed in leather pants while listening to Van Halen.
But wait, barely a minute into our call he’s interrupted by some gorgeous trilling in the background, a native bird seemingly a metre away. “Yeah, that is a bird just in the bush here,” he admits a little embarrassed. “I’m out the front of my place.”
That place is in a northern NSW hamlet whose location he prefers to keep private but he can confirm the route from there to the nearest airport does go past fields where, ahem, certain types of mushrooms grow wild and might cause someone to stop and harvest on the way. Or so he’s heard anyway.
Corby’s lifestyle, and for that matter his generation, is not one stuck on traditions, such as some weird collection of songs you buy as a package instead of just the tracks you like. Why does he even care about putting out albums of his soul-influenced rock?
“I would always buy whole records,” he says. “I don’t know why I did that. I think if I found someone whose sound I really loved I would try to find as much as I could to try and understand why I liked it. And I would make myself listen to a whole record, start to finish.”
Along the way Corby found the artists he was really connecting with were those who were making “consistent whole statements” that meant something – among them, not surprisingly perhaps, the likes of Neil Young. “And that was my idea of what a classic artist was.”
Basically then, Corby – who became a father last year - was already an old man when he was young? “Yeah, older people around me were like softly guiding me into thinking like that.” And he doesn’t sound unhappy about it either, looking at his 10 year, two album career so far as one that has barely begun, and might need to speed up.
“I think there needs to be like 10 albums [before judging success],” he says. “I think a lot of musicians are too much in their own head [and] I think I’ve just sort of figured out how to work in a more prolific way and get things out more quickly.”
Maybe we should institute a rule that there be no interviews with artists until they have done at least five albums.
“Yeah, yeah,” he chuckles. “In this country especially, I think it might be a triple J thing as well, they are always looking for new music and I’m like, that’s cool, but what about taking care of the people that have already done good things. And I’m not talking about me at all: things that are great are forgotten so quickly just to make way for something new.”
In the background, is that a bird or someone singing “Old man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you were”?
Matt Corby plays Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton, March 21; Townsville Entertainment Centre, March 22; Munro Martin Parklands, Cairns, March 23; Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, March 29; UC Refectory, Canberra on March 30; Brisbane Convention Centre, April 5; Miama Marketta, Gold Coast, April 7; Flinders University Plaza, Adelaide, April 9; Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne, April 12;Costa Hall, Geelong, April 13; Odeon Theatre, Hobart, April 23; Kings Park, Perth, April 27.
Some not so new music that changed Matt Corby and he hopes might change you.
Nick Drake – Pink Moon. “Give it three listens and it’s like, whoa this is straight up bliss.”
Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming. “Charles does the same thing on every track and it’s awesome. I listened to that on repeat for three years.”
Darkside - Psychic. “That’s something that is incredible.”
Crosby Stills Nash & Young - Déjà Vu. “One of the best records I’ve ever heard. That’s a hectic piece of music.”
D’Angelo - Voodoo. “It’s an unbelievable record. It’s pretty hard to go past.”
JJ Cale – Anything he’s done. “The versatility of his songwriting is amazing.”
Mocky – Key Change. “Beautiful instrumentals that you can live your life to.”