Interview: Matthew Edwards

Ahead of the Brum Notes and Swordfish Records intimate instore event for Record Store Day ( April 19), Ben Russell had an exclusive chat with headliner and local boy done good, Matthew Edwards.

For anyone not familiar with the Birmingham-born singer and guitarist, who relocated to San Francisco 20 years ago, he shot to fame with acclaimed Le Grand Magistery recording artists, The Music Lovers, before starting a new musical adventure with his band, The Unfortunates.

Defending his decision to leave Birmingham for the slightly sunnier climes of California, the singer said: “I moved to San Francisco as a young whippersnapper. I left because I had to for my mental, physical and creative health.

“Birmingham was not a good place for me to be at that time, life was running away from me and I wanted to recapture it. It wasn’t Birmingham itself, although 20 years ago it was a wildly different (and duller) city, it was definitely me.

“Life doesn’t really differ however. It’s the same everywhere – we work, sleep, love, experience pain etc.

“San Francisco is a city in cultural decline and Birmingham is a city in ascendency. San Francisco has an abundance of stimuli but little quality control. Birmingham has its inbuilt bullshit detector which doesn’t allow for much that is substandard.

“Over there everything is ‘OK dude’ but in Birmingham things are shit until you make them better yourself. I like what I see here these days – a lot of aspiration.”

Back on home turf indefinitely, Matthew has already played a few shows, has a few more planned including some festival appearances, and has even managed to form a UK version of The Unfortunates enabling him to perform his material full-band.

He said: “We’d like to play a fair few more shows throughout this year, although trudging about for the sake of it is pointless.

“Whenever a good opportunity arises I’ll play solo too. I’d like to expand the visual aspect of our performances to include more slides and films. That, and play more bah mitzvahs.”

Apart from coming-of-age ceremonies he added that the plan is to enter the studio here in England to begin work on a follow-up to the band’s new album, The Fates, before heading back to America in September.

The Fates, full of melancholy urban pop with a metaphysical edge, was originally released on San Francisco’s vinyl only label Last Tape Recording last year but is being re-released this June on CD/download on Metal Postcard Records.

It was produced by Eric Drew Feldman (Pixies, Captain Beefheart, PJ Harvey) and features English guitarist Fred Frith (Henry Cow).

Speaking about the album Matthew said: “It is a selection of resolutely adult, yet fucked up, pop songs dealing with accidents, lust, fear and demonic possession.

“I could not be happier with how it turned out. I worked with delightful inspired people and we didn’t rush it.

“Last Tape Recordings were very supportive and they, as well as the band, got the record we deserved.”

Matthew will be playing tracks from the album, as well as other original material, at Swordfish Records on April 19 starting from 5pm.

For more information on the event, also featuring Charlotte Carpenter, Drakelow, and Dumb, visit the Facebook page here.

Swordfish Records is at 66 Dalton Street, Birmingham city centre.



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