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An article about Matt Nathanson from the Bradenton Herald
April 1, 2005

Updated Sat, Apr 02, 2005 - 1:52am ET

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You can read an article/interview with Matt Nathanson, who opens for Tori during her April 2005 solo tour in the U.S., in the April 1, 2005 edition of the Bradenton Herald from Bradenton, FL.

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Matt Nathanson: Not just another 'white guy with a guitar'

Herald Staff Writer

Matt Nathanson is "psyched" about opening for Tori Amos. The singer/songwriter and 12-string guitarist spent about a decade releasing CDs on his own label Acrobat and playing for whatever price, at any club or Bar Mitzvah that would have him. Not until his strong online message board presence met the "white guy with a guitar" boom of recent years (John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz) did Nathanson draw interest from major labels such as Universal Records, which released "Beneath these Fireworks" to strong reviews in October of 2003.

"Oh dude, I can't wait," enthused Nathanson, 31, when he called from his San Francisco home. "I don't get to do a lot of touring with people I grew up listening to. Tori Amos, I mean, she is one of my heroes."

Nathanson is a fan of males singer/songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, but Amos and the other women who emerged with powerful, introspective fare during his late teens, are the ones we can thank for dissuading the young guitarist from creating another KISS or Poison tribute band.

"I think I'm a lady," the married heterosexual joked. "The female singer/songwriters are my favorite. Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, Fiona Apple, they were all very inspiring."

Before playing classy venues such as Ruth Eckerd Hall, Nathanson was often forced to compete with inebriated, rowdy crowds in no mood for lyrics such as "In the light, in the daylight it's all wrong, to revel in your memory" (the opening lines of "Angel," the lead track from "Beneath These Fireworks.")

"That's when you use a Bon Jovi tune or another goofy 1980s song like 'Summer of '69' to get the drunks to sing a long and cheer and pay attention," Nathanson said. "I'll just as soon do anything to get people to listen. I don't take it personally. What's my job? My job is to connect.

"If I got to do metal songs to get them to focus on only one of my songs, it's worth it. Luckily, on the Tori tour I won't have to touch the (metal covers)."

Nathanson writes and performs first-person accounts of life and love that are a bit more pointed than those of, say, Mayer, another artists with whom he's toured.

"Yeah, mine our a little angrier," Nathanson said. "For a really long time the white guy with guitar was not a selling point. When John (Mayer) and Jack (Johnson) happened it opened the flood gates. So in that respect, I have no problem being associated with those guys. But I don't think I sound anything like those guys.

"I guess everybody feels that way, that they have something new to bring," he allowed.

Although Nathanson has been happily married for about five years and dated his wife for just as long before they wed, his songs consistently smack of the unrequited love that stung the self-described chubby, high school nerd.

"Dude, that baggage never leaves," he said. "I can tap into that stuff so quickly it's almost disturbing."

So a white guy with a guitar who grew up in the suburbs listening to hair metal and wearing a mullet is a fair assessment?

"It's pretty true, that was my trip," Nathanson said. "I was very un-hip. I wish grew up just I listeningt to the blues and became (Jack) White (of the White Stripes).

"That would be fantastic. But that's not the case and you have to know who your are and try and transcend your own (expletive.)"

In concert, especially when doing a solo gig such as today's, Nathanson is known to intercut his often melancholy observations on life with humorous anecdotes or commentary on pop stars such as Ashlee Simpson.

"I just get rolling and on stage; it's very much just who I am," he said. "It's never really a thought out thing."

Nathanson's song are mostly autobiographical so he occasionally is met by the young women who prompted the mournful reflections. Now that he is a rather handsome rising star working on the follow-up to his major-label debut does he feel vindicated?

"No, I feel like songs are almost communicating unfinished business, it's more like a feeling I was able to get through," he mused. "Songs are vehicles of communication."

Posted by: Mikewhy

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