Matt Epp inspired by his band

Five records into his career, Winnipeg musician Matt Epp is still looking for new ways to do things.

After making four records under his own name with the assistance of an incidental group of players, Epp learned to hone his craft record by record and song by song. These days however, Matt has a dedicated, full-fledged backing band, The Amorian Assembly, that played an integral part in the creation of his newest album, At Dawn.

Just prior to boarding the ferry in North Sydney to cross to Newfoundland last week, Matt told the Times & Transcript that having a full-time backing band hadn’t been a priority to him in the past but he’s now come around to the idea. “The biggest aspect of growth in what I am doing has definitely been the involvement of the band,” he says. “That has been incredibly inspiring to me because before this core group that I have playing with me now, I hadn’t tried to form a band.

“With this record, however, I feel like I have gotten deeper into subjects. Instead of seeing the world through a young, idealistic viewpoint, the weight of more realistic responsibilities is present.”

Matt believes it was more than simply musicianship that drew each of his band members to his attention. Of bass player Joel Couture, a fellow Winnipeg resident, Matt says that he instinctively knew that he had to hire him for anything that he could, while he met drummer Antonio Lomas, a native of Spain, during one of his first trips to Spain. While Matt says that he is having a little difficulty finding a keyboard player who is able to commit to touring full-time, he says that he has been a fan of Cape Breton guitarist Jay Smith since he first heard him play. Add it all up and Matt says that he and the Amorian Assembly are “cooking with gas” every night they hit the stage.

Matt’s current run of more than 20 Canadian shows, including a show tomorrow night in Moncton, will mark the fifth time that he has toured Canada. While his name continues to grow within Canada, Matt has also had the pleasure of touring Europe three times over the last year and says that he has been received well each time he has ventured overseas.

“I actually spent more time playing in Europe last year than I did in North America,” he says. “Prior to that, I had never been but it was excellent. People responded to my stuff right away which kind of made me wish I had gone over sooner.

“Touring Europe is so different compared to North America though,” he continues. “As a general rule, the press tends to work together with the venues to promote shows. And people just don’t read the stories; they end up going to the shows plus they read and understand the lyrics. Their culture is totally into that.”

While many artists these days are shying away from making music videos, Matt has embraced the medium. If he had his way, he says, he would be making videos much more frequently. “I think that the trick to making videos is to try to not limit other people’s interpretation of what the song could be. These days though, You Tube has become so much more than just a place to watch videos. People are listening to music on You Tube, even for tracks without videos plus people can link to your videos from their blog or recommend that others check it out, so as far as I’m concerned there is little doubt that the video is a viable form of promotion.”

Though another European tour is in the offing for Matt and the Amorian Assembly a little later in the year, at the present time, he is greatly anticipating his run of shows that will bring him through the Atlantic provinces.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I have a connection with the East Coast. I needed to show my Spaniard friends the beauty of cities like Halifax, St. John’s and Moncton. The people on the East Coast are so beautiful; all of my experiences have been great.”

Article published in May 11, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript