When I give Matt Corby a buzz he’s a little bit surprised to hear from me. It’s been two years since we’ve had a chat and the last time I saw him play was at a gig he performed for The Spit Press & FBi Radio at the Petersham Bowlo.
Things were different back then, a time in his career, and maybe even his life, that his fans could probably term as being “Pre-Brother”. But despite all the success, opportunities and touring that came with that runaway tune, I quickly find that Matt is still one of the most humble musicians that I’ve interviewed over the past three and a half years (and there’s been a lot of them). When he picks up I learn that I’ve interrupted his breakfast at The Porch café with two of his best friends. There are kids screaming in the background and I can hear people shuffling about the place. I offer to call back, but being the good bloke that he is, he walks out on his mates and insists that we have a chat. In turn I promise not to keep him long.
Photo credit: Joseph Willis Photography, via Matt Corby.
Tell me about the story behind ‘Resolution’. You were quite forthcoming with what inspired ‘Brother’, where did ‘Resolution’ come from?
Basically I was in an interesting headspace when that song was written, and it was written in the space of about an hour. What was physically going on around me wasn’t much, I was sort of holed up in an apartment that I hadn’t left for a couple of days and all my food had kind of run out and I was in a bit of a hole, let’s just call it, and I decided to finally ask the right questions, I think. I started to try and understand why I was here and what’s the point of it all and was it all just a bunch of bullshit, to live and exist. You know, all those fundamental questions that one must ask if they want to head on some path to enlightenment. And when I say that I don’t mean in some weird, fucking hippy, like, out of context way, I mean it in the most humanely real way possible. How do I master this thing called life that we are constantly in the state of being ‘in’? It’s crazy, all the way down to subatomic particles, all that bullshit, right? If that gives you an idea of the headspace I was in…
I just realised that it should just be about people and it should just be about love because without them there’s nothing. The rest of this game and every single thing that’s been created comes from the human network and the collective consciousness. So… The song came from that, the reason that we are human. This is a real thing, we’re animals that are social with one another and we are all living in the same time, so we should appreciate one another for that purpose. I think after you realise that, things become a little bit simpler. And I don’t really give a shit if you don’t understand that, that’s the craziest thing, because it’s not going to change the way I treat you – a human being.
Is this way of approaching life and your music something that you have come to learn over the past few years? Or…
This is just something that I am developing. It’s just an ideal. It’s an idea. That’s it. And that’s all it is and that’s all anything really is. Some ideas become rules and some don’t, so… But I guess it’s just… I’m not trying to press these things on to anyone; I just got to a point where I just really needed to love people. That’s about it. And things become a lot simpler after that. So when I say “you will be my resolution”, I’m talking collectively. Anyway…
Well, the song speaks for itself in many ways. I don’t know if they’re horns or strings or what, but that bum-bum, bum-bum sound…
Oh that’s a congo actually. We just tune it to G.
You’re still quite young. How old are you this year?
And you’ve been recording your next record overseas. Do you ever feel with the experience you’re having that your feet are off the ground, or that you’re floating? Is it all quite remarkable to you?
Um, I guess, I dunno. I try not to really think about it other than what I’m meant to do. I just don’t really see it like that. I just see it as like, cool, I get this opportunity, let’s do it. And let’s ask a question that gets a better question, you know what I mean? Make headway. It doesn’t matter how you do it. And I don’t really give a shit about the whole fame thing. It doesn’t make sense to me and it shouldn’t be like that, it separates people. It makes people weird. Beating myself up about it, to record in another place, who cares? It’s all music. But yeah, it’s great, I’m so excited, I love sharing my art with people. It’s amazing that I get to do that. More people should do that, you know?
One of the ways that you’ve been doing that is through these Secret Garden shows. I know that you told Tom & Alex that there was a guy touching your shoe at a show and you were able to hear him talk to his friend saying “Wow, you just touched Matt Corby’s shoe”. Are you experiencing a lot of stuff like that with your fans? Is it getting to a point where elements of fame are getting weird for you?
Yeah, but I just tell them. Like, if people are weird, just tell them they’re being weird. Just chill out, man. It’s cool. It’s just a strange mentality to adopt so yeah, but that’s okay. People are always going to be weird with other people. It’s just the way it works. I can at least tell them that it’s okay, I don’t have to be strange, I can just tell them to chill out. Like, why would you touch my shoe when you can just have a conversation with me? I’m right here.
Well maybe not all successful musicians are as down to earth. Apart from that, how were the recent Secret Garden shows overall?
They were great, man. I’m starting to really enjoy playing with my band in front of a bunch of people, sharing an experience with them. When I’m on stage with my band playing, I’m trying to live in that exact moment and get across everything I need to emotionally and socially and musically, whatever. It’s been great and the crowds have been so incredible. The people that have come to watch have just been so respectful. People are just there to see someone play and make music in front of them. It’s amazing. It speaks another language to people. I’m just so thankful. In some capacity, the music that I’ve started to make has started to attract people that started to listen, which is beautiful. Sometimes you go to gig and there’s always just a bunch of fucking ignorant people up the back that aren’t listening or watching or experiencing something that’s going on in front of them that is speaking a different language. It’s so weird. Why can’t they just shut up and experience it? It’s crazy. And put your fucking iPhones down for God’s fucking sake. Like, Jesus, that is causing terrible things for art because people aren’t becoming attached to experiences, they’re becoming attached to digital memories, imprinted on their phones, which is weakening the link, culturally, in your mind, to art. That’s crazy.
Do you think you’ll get to a point where it weirds you out so much that you’ll have to tell them?
Yeah, I have already. I was in Perth and I saw, it was amazing, as I went to start a song it was like a dance, everyone in unison, lifting up these weird digital squares and separating me from them. There’s already enough in between us, there’s a stage and a bunch of amplifications and that’s enough. That’s all I need to get my point across. Anything else is excess. You’re missing something if you’re putting in another barrier between the art and the audience. So, I just said, “put ‘em down guys, I’m right here. Let’s be. Let’s do this. Like, right now. You’re not even going to watch it anyway, you’re probably just going to show your mates and it’s going to sound shit, so… fuck, leave it.” Not in a bad way.
I like that…just tacking “Not in a bad way” on the end of a rant like that
It can’t be in a bad way. It’s all for the positive (laughs).
I won’t keep you much longer but tell me about the new record and where it’s heading and what it sounds like.
Yeah, look, I don’t even know yet, man. There are a lot of things I’m trying to figure out with it and it’s kind of half done but there’s some funky shit on there, there’s some heavy shit on there but it’s exciting, man. There’s some stuff that I can’t wait for people to hear. It might be the blandest thing in the world, but that’s not for me to decide.
Well thanks so much for your time, Matty, I’ll let you get back to breakfast.
Thank you for listening to my needless ranting.