By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On Dec. 1, 2019, Charleston, S.C.-based singer-songwriter Matt Megrue (The Unusual Suspects, Loners Society) released a lyric video for single “We,” which will serve as the opener for his first solo LP, ‘The Mourner’s Manual,’ due out on Feb. 7, 2020.
The Music Bugle recently had a chance to chat with Megrue about his upcoming release and other happenings.
Music Bugle – Can you describe the creative process of putting together your upcoming album, ‘The Mourner’s Manual’?
Matt Megrue – ‘The Mourner’s Manual’ record is the most “on the fly” record I have ever made. Historically, the way I worked was by the time we got to the studio, the songs were written and pre-produced to the point where we were simply walking in and laying everything down. With this record, not one song was written when the sessions began. We would get together the night before and write music to a song or two, then track it the next day, so what you’re hearing on this record, in a lot of places, is literally the first or second time any of us had ever played the song through to its completion.
Music Bugle – What’s specifically the biggest challenge you find while writing songs?
Matt Megrue – Myself.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your solo material to that of Loners Society/The Unusual Suspects?
Matt Megrue – I think the biggest difference is just that I am at a different point of my life, so obviously, the music is going to be different. You can’t write pop-rock, heartbreaker songs forever. I have typically been the primary songwriter in all of my past projects, but I think deep down, I always wanted it to be “a band,” ya know? I think I was also afraid of failure, which kept me from stamping my actual name to any particular project. There’s an inherent risk of throwing stuff out there into the public arena and being disappointed if it doesn’t connect the way you want it to. Ironically though, when it comes to multiple people contributing and collaborating, this record is probably the most “band” record I have ever made. Sean (guitarist/bassist/producer) and Brendan (drummer/guitarist/engineer) were incredibly generous and creative throughout the entire process and we all worked together so efficiently.
Music Bugle – When did you decide to release “We” as a single? Why that particular song?
Matt Megrue – To me, “We” felt like it embodied the record as a whole. It embodies everything we wanted to do when we set out to make this record. It was also the first song we wrote and tracked, so it just felt like a natural fit to put out first.
Music Bugle – Which feelings would you say are conveyed most through your new music?
Matt Megrue – I think that’s really up to you, the listener, to say. For me though, I hear hope. I hear sadness and make no mistake, man, times are tough. You look around and there are plenty of reasons to get down, but I didn’t want to get too bogged down in that. I wanted to acknowledge the sadness while also pointing out that hope and change are inside all of us. We have the ability to turn it all around.
Music Bugle – What are your expectations with ‘The Mourner’s Manual’? How do you feel it’ll be received?
Matt Megrue – I have zero expectations. The only thing that I can do is make something that I am proud to put my name on. I believe I did that with this record. How it is received? Again, that’s out of my control.
Music Bugle – Who are some of your musical influences?
Matt Megrue – I’m all over the map. I’m just a huge fan of music, ya know? Before writing and playing, I have always been a fan, so I can’t say what leaks into my work, but I can tell you some bands that I love: Against Me!, The Gaslight Anthem, OutKast, The Rushmore: Bruce, Petty, Dylan, Neil, anything Motown, The Menzingers, Pearl Jam, Macklemore, The Killers, Eels, Run The Jewels, The Cars, Butch Walker and Marvy3, Lauryn Hill, Childish Gambino, American Football. Should I keep going?
Music Bugle – What was the most memorable moment you’ve had onstage?
Matt Megrue – Most of my most “memorable” moments are things I wish I could forget, but I have had some great moments where I was able to share the stage with people I grew up admiring. We have done some bills with Shawn Mullins, Hawthorne Heights, Sugarcult, Civil Wars, Jesse Malin, Flickerstick. All of those bands and musicians meant something to me and to be able to share a night with them, you just feel a sense of validation.
Music Bugle – What pains you most about today’s music industry and how can it be fixed?
Matt Megrue – Well, isn’t that the million dollar question? If someone ever nails that answer, please let me know! I think the thing that pains me the most is that there is so much hard work and amazing creativity that goes unnoticed. I think there is something to the way that film and movies embraced technology versus the way the music business fought against it. Right now, film is thriving and the music business… well, we all know how that’s going, right? As far as what to do to fix it? That’s above my pay grade.
Music Bugle – What’s something you feel people should know most about you as a musician?
Matt Megrue – I just would like you to know that I put a lot of care into what I do. Even if you hate the record, I hope you can still respect the effort and attention that I put into the craft.