Matthew Good shouldn’t need much of an introduction. In his more than 25-year recording career, he has received numerous accolades, including 21 Juno award nominations with four wins and dozens of well-known hits. Whether in his songs, his online political viewpoint or his work as a mental health activist, Good is known as someone who rarely pulls any punches.
Calling from Kingston, shortly before the fifth show of his Moving Walls tour, Good says he is more than happy to be back on the road and hitting stages across Canada.
“I love touring. It has been great so far to be honest with you. Starting in the Maritimes is always fun. There are always good crowds there,” says Good. “We just did four shows with a band called Villages, a Celtic folk-rock band, who were absolutely amazing… I swear to God it was like going back in time, back to the Railway Club [in Vancouver] and watching a young Spirit of the West. They were that good. They are lovely guys… and just out of this world good.”
After a number of solo acoustic tours over the past years, Good notes that for this touring cycle, he has his full band with him.
“I’ve played with [my band] for 13 years and they’re like my brothers,” he says.
Good has troubles choosing the set lists with the catalogue of songs he has released.
“There is so much stuff that I enjoy playing that it is really hard to nail down. For me, the whole evening has been fun so far. It’s been fantastic. I am even enjoying going from [a new song] and going into something like Load Me Up. That’s a joy. It’s cool because that song is 20 years old. Then I can go into Hello Time Bomb and get the crowd to sing the choruses. It’s a lot of fun.”
Good also likes bringing out some of the deeper album cuts.
“One of the things we brought back for this tour was Blue Skies Over Badlands [from 2004’s White Light Rock and Roll Review]. I just love playing that song. It is difficult to go through your catalogue. You just don’t have enough time to do it all. It is also a lot different to go see Bruce Springsteen when you go to a stadium and you’ve paid $200 a ticket. Bruce is going to play for three hours and he’s going to give you a lot of the shit. It’s different on a $50 ticket with a limited number of people to hold their attention for that long. You kind of got to pick your spots.”
In addition to many of his well-known hits, Good is also playing six or seven songs from his new Moving Walls album.
“I don’t think that we’d be having this conversation if over the years I only played two new songs off a new record and the rest were like hits or whatever. I do the Radiohead thing and always go heavy on the new material. There are still the songs in there that people want to hear, maybe not all of them, but that’s the choice you’ve got to make.”
Between 1996 and 2016, with the combined sales of both Matthew Good Band and his solo albums, Good was ranked as the 25th best-selling artist of all time in Canada. But instead of chasing fame, Good has focused his time and energy on furthering his art. Consistently releasing albums every couple of years since he came upon the Canadian scene in the mid-90s, Good has seven full length albums and EPs with Matthew Good Band and 13 as a solo artist.
“I recently actually got in trouble for [releasing albums so consistently],” laughs Good. “My manager was like, ‘It’s maybe time that, in this new kind of music economy, we should slow down from the whole two-year [cycle]’. It is hard to go back on tour so quickly because people are like, ‘He was just here two years ago.’ I don’t know. I guess it has kind of changed or it’s different.”
Despite the changing music environment, Good loves all aspects of his recording-then-touring cycle equally.
“I like it all, it’s what I do. It’s like asking an artist, ‘Do you like the canvas or do you like the brush better?’ It’s all part of the same thing.”
On Moving Walls, Good has once again worked with producer and friend Warne Livesay.
“Livesay is family. He [was] close with my parents and me. I have known him for 20 years and there is a huge family connection… When we work in the studio, it is telepathically. He will add a flourish to something and he just looks over his shoulder at me. I will shake my head and say, ‘Well obviously man.’”
Moving Walls has all the elements that make Good instantly recognizable as an artist, but showcases his willingness to try new things. As always, his lyrics are sharp and politically on-point, especially on the album’s opening track One of Them Years where Good’s lyrics speak to the societal dysfunction you can hear about in any daily news cycle. He sings:
Never mind the science / Them vaccinations cause dysphoria / And them pictures of the planet / Are doctored so it looks like / A place akin to heaven / But only from a distance / Nobody likes your headscarf / But they wear masks in the resistance / Either way, forget the answers / Since we've perfected pointing fingers.
The album contains a first for Good, a French language song, Lumière noire. Good says he has picked up the language while touring.
“More so from traveling in Europe than from my own country, I am ashamed to say. The song was really inspired by the fact that I was listening to a lot of Arthur H., who is like the middle-aged Tom Waits of France. He’s kind of a genius. That inspired me to do that song.”
Good has spent a lot of time in Sault Ste. Marie over the years, and as he notes, some of that time was performing and some just passing through.
“The great secret of your city that people do not know is how many bands stop there on their way to Winnipeg and stay at the Holiday Inn. You would be amazed at the major bands that stop there. Their tour buses are in the parking lot and people don’t even know. In Sault Ste. Marie, you are taking your chances. On the one hand it’s got this small town vibe and people are going, ‘Hey, are you going to the show?’ Either that or it’s one of those things where it is a total Spinal Tap and only 12 people show up and you are doing Stonehenge,” he laughs.
As for his own upcoming stop in Sault Ste. Marie on March 26 at the Sault Community Theatre, Good is happy to have the chance to reconnect with the community.
“I am really looking forward to it. It is going to be fun as hell.”
More information about Matthew Good’s upcoming show is available on the Sault Community Theatre Centre website.