Before the show started, I sat down with Matt Wertz for about twenty minutes.
Orange Television Network: Can you give a short introduction, briefly describe yourself and where you’re from and what kind of music you play and what’s your inspiration for being a musical artist?
Matt Wertz: So my name is Matt Wertz. I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and um…went to school at the University of Illinois and then moved down to Nashville when I finished school…didn’t think I wanted to do music until I was like a senior year in college and kind of like the culmination of doing it as a hobby throughout my life kind of built up and then I was like ‘I don’t want to get a real job – I wanna do music’ and so, um, I write songs that hopefully are communicating some truth and, and a piece of who I am, that I hope people can relate to and maybe I’m giving words to feelings that people haven’t been able to find yet.
20 Watts: What’s the last you song you heard that you wish you had written?
MW: Oo that’s a good question, um, oh man…there’s so many. Um, gosh, can I look at my iPod real quick?… Oh, I know what it is, easy, “Say”, that song by John Mayer, I wish I had written that song. I feel like that song…its communicating a lot of truth in a way that’s really like easy to digest and I think that that’s a good song…that’s when you know you have a good song is when you can communicate a lot in just a few words, something that people can really grab onto.
20W: You’ve toured with the likes of Jamie Cullum, Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz, and Matt Nathanson among others. Do you have a favorite?
MW: Jamie Cullum was awesome cause his crowd was just great, they were just so hungry for music and you know, it was perfect for me because I was a new guy and they love new guys, so I was set up to win. And the rooms were all like packed out, you know capacity like, a thousand plus rooms you know, so it was really fun. Yeah, I loved touring with him. I wished it had been longer; it was just down the West Coast, but maybe, maybe in the future.
20W: Just as a follow up, is there anyone you’d like to tour with in the future?
MW: Um, that’s a good question. You know, there’s a guy named Robin Thicke that I love that is total pop music but I love his music, he has an old record under the name ‘Thicke’ with an ‘e’ and its amazing. I’d love to tour with the One Republic guys, those guys are my friends. To me, its more about touring with people that you know and love and just wanna be with. Cause when you’re out on the road you’re there for anywhere from a month to three months or some of these massive tours go on for a year and you just wanna make sure you’re with people that you enjoy. But bands that I think have a similar crossover audiences would be like the John Mayers of the world…
20W: Did you like the [new album by] Jack Johnson?
MW: I don’t have it yet. I need to get it.
OTN: What are your aspirations for the next couple of years? Where do you see yourself going? Where would you like to see yourself going?
MW: It’s really hard to do that. Where would I like to see myself? I would like to see myself, I would really love for this record to do well, well meaning like 500 [thousand], you know. Ok, so here’s the background. I signed a record deal in mid December, I’ve never been on a label before, so I’m with Universal Republic and that’s the label that Jack Johnson’s on and Colbie Callait’s on and Amy Winehouse and so they have, they’re totally competent and capable and so we’re putting a record out, it looks like May, and I would like for, I would hope that that record does 500 thousand copies and sets me up to really put out a great record for the next one.
20W: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
MW: Yeah, I’ve got a lot. That’s easy. I’m loving those Taylor Swift singles right now. “Teardrops on My Guitar”, I love that song. I love “Our Song”. I live in Nashville so country music is kind of inescapable. There’s something just really catchy and simple and dumb, but I’ve been digging the Fergie stuff too, I’m kind of ashamed to say it. Who else? I love that Pink song and I love that new Chris Brown song, “With You.” I’ve just been listening to pop radio a lot because I’m trying to hear what the climate of the pop radio is right now to see where my songs are going to fit into the whole landscape.
OTN: Did living in Nashville influence your songwriting at all?
MW: I think that there’s a lot to that and I think what’s great about Nashville is that its a real song writing town, so the publishing business in Nashville, I don’t think there’s a another city that has the publishing Nashville does, which means that there’s just songwriting happening all the time and that can be both intimidating and inspiring kind of all rolled up into one. The great thing is that there are really phenomenal writers who are accessible to write with. That’s a new thing to Nashville, sitting down and writing a song with somebody else – that happens every day, and sometimes with multiple people. But it for sure has affected the way that I write songs and I’m learning to really respect country music, at least the roots of country music and where it came from which I never really did before – I never knew anything about it. But hearing Hank Williams and Johnny Cash and some of these folks, Woody Guthrie, they kind of just set the tone for American music just as a whole and whether I know it or not, they’ve influenced me even if I’m influenced by another band that was influenced by another band that was influenced by them.
20W: When you’re on tour for weeks or months at a time, are there any certain essentials that you need on the bus?
MW: Yeah. Yeah, I’m learning as I go what I need. I love just being able to get some time away to myself in the morning and just have an hour even just to read and write and kind of center. I also need to work about because its just amazing how lethargic you can get just traveling all the time and just not getting your blood moving at all. So, I need some time to myself, I need to work out, and that’s it for right now. I’m sure there’s more, but…
20W: No like, certain sodas or anything?
MW: Oh dude, yeah. I mean water’s essential – room temperature water. Odwalla superfood is my jam; I love that stuff, its great. It’s kinda nasty but it makes you feel like your healthy, you know?
20W: It’s like those granola bars right?
MW: Yeah, well no it’s a drink. We’ve got some over there. It’s green. It looks like your drinking blended grass, but it doesn’t taste anything like that, but you kind of just feel healthy when you drink it cause you’re like ‘yeah this is gotta be good for me, cause its kind of not great, you know?’ You can see we have like hummus and pita just kind of munchy munchy stuff but I can’t eat fried food or anything like that cause on the road its amazing how quickly it’ll sneak up on you and then all of the sudden you’ve gained like ten pounds or fifteen pounds and you just feel like crap. So, you just gotta stay on top of it.
20W: Since you were an independent artist for so long, is it a different game being on a label?
MW: The new thing is that there’s more input. There’s more people who have input and one decision ends up setting a lot into motion. You make one decision and then all of the sudden there’s seven things that are going and there’s that many more decisions to make. It’s like this massive force behind it, which is different, and that can be great, and for the most part it is, but it’s also overwhelming because it’s like ‘whoa’, it usually takes me awhile to process and live with something to really feel good about it and so it’s weird when the decisions you make carry so much weight. But, my experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive and I can’t wait to kind of see, once the music’s done, just the marketing – what that looks like.
20W: I know its winter, but have you found any time to surf, on the West Coast at least?
MW: You know what? I have not. I’m going out to LA tomorrow, and that’s a really good call. I’m out there for a week so it would be great to head out. I’m not a great surfer but I love being in the water. I did go out and ride, I snowboard quite a bit and I was out in Vale I guess in early January with some friends and we had a great time. I’m trying to figure out when I can go back out. Yeah man, there’s just nothing like either snowboarding or surfing when there’s no mechanics to it – it’s you and the world, it’s you and the forces of nature. It’s awesome, and I just love it.
20W: What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
MW: That would probably be a tie between the U2 vertigo tour where I was like second row in the circle and then the Stevie Wonder show that I just went to in Memphis. It was amazing man. I mean every song. It was awesome. It was like seeing a legend, I cant even really describe it to you, but I will go see him any opportunity I have and I think that he’s going to be touring more because his mother passed away and he woke up from a dream that I think basically was her telling him that he’s gotta keep going. So I think he called his agent the next day and like said ‘I wanna tour, in a month’ and so I’m hoping that he does it more because he’s on the top of his game, and he’s probably 60 years old, probably sings better than he ever has before.
MW: Beautiful, thanks dude.