The MusicNerd Q&A With Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs

_MG_6102 photo credit Drew Reynolds resized
Photo by Drew Reynolds

In stores now is Under The Covers Volume 3, a stellar collection of cover songs from the 80’s performed by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. The record is a diverse affair with the duo tackling well-known songs from the decade (Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’, The Go-Go’s Our Lips Are Sealed) along with other tracks from the likes of the English Beat, The Bongos and The Pretenders.

Matthew and Susanna spoke with MusicNerd.ca in separate interviews last week. They discussed their newest collaboration, what the 80’s had working against them as well as why the decade isn’t quite as bad as it is made out to be.

Why do you feel the 80’s have earned such a bad rap from so many people?

Hoffs: Musically, it would have been hard to follow up the 60’s and 70’s, which were basically the golden age of music. Funny enough though, I am running into more and more people in their 30’s and 40’s who now feel the decade was a great one. There was definitely something fun to the decade; the movies and clothing from the time have a kind of campiness to them.

Sweet: I feel there were a couple of different factors at play. First off, there was this tendency for people to lean towards this quirky, new wave kind of image. It was very much a let’s have fun kind of decade but with that came a lot of excesses. Maybe people are embarrassed by the decade but even that seems to be becoming a thing of the past.

After having recorded a whopping 26 tracks for Under The Covers Volume 2, were you a little more conscientious about not being quite as ambitious with Volume 3?

Hoffs: We were like two kids in a candy store. We found our anchors in bands like R.E.M. but then also looked towards other guitar-driven bands and acts from the second wave of British new wave acts like XTC and Roxy Music. The English Beat were important for me personally as The Bangles did one of our first tours with them.

The Bangles are conspicuously absent from Under The Covers Volume 3. Was this a deliberate omission?

Sweet: Not at all. In fact, before we had begun making the record we had talked about me singing a Bangles song but it just didn’t happen this time around. It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision to not have The Bangles represented.

Article published in the November 14, 2013 edition of Here Magazine