Matthew Good has always been an artist who looks ahead. Fans of the Canadian rocker have become accustomed to him switching gears and sounds from album to album.
His first solo record after the demise of the Matthew Good Band, 2003’s Avalanche, is nothing like the guitar-driven rock of his namesake group’s radio hits. Avalanche is a big album with epic tunes like “Weapon” and “While We Were Hunting Rabbits” boosted sonically by a symphony orchestra. His next album, White Light Rock & Roll Review (2004) was a stripped down, guitar-based effort. He followed that with the sombre Hospital Music (2007). And that path of creativity has continued through his most recent full length, Chaotic Neutral (2015).
So Good threw his fans a curveball when he announced in late 2016 that he would revisit his biggest album, 1999’s Beautiful Midnight, with a five-song EP entitled Beautiful Midnight Revisited: I Miss New Wave. The EP – released in December – revisits and reimagines songs from Beautiful Midnight, his most commercially successful album.
The EP will be promoted by a 28-date Canadian tour running in February and March that will find Good and his band play the original Beautiful Midnight album in its entirety. (Tour dates below.)
“It’ll be fun to do,” Good tells MusicNerd over the phone from his home office in Coquitlam, B.C. “I can’t tell you, as a musician, how much of a relief it is knowing what you’re doing every night.”
The genesis of Good revisiting Beautiful Midnight began when several of his earlier albums were remastered and re-released on vinyl in early 2016. The albums shot to the top of the Canadian vinyl sales chart, with Beautiful Midnight latching on to the #1 spot. This came on the heels of the Tragically Hip celebrating their landmark 1992 album Fully Completely with a reissue and tour where they played that album in its entirety.
Good began discussing the possibility of revisiting Beautiful Midnight with his manager Bernie Breen (who also manages the Tragically Hip).
“When they did Fully Completely, me and my manager talked about it and I said, ‘They should have done this forever ago …’ So when I saw those numbers (from the vinyl reissues), I thought, ‘Yeah, well maybe you should take your own fucking advice and go and do it,’” he says.
Rather than simply tour, Good opted to revisit some of the old tunes. On the new EP, Beautiful Midnight rocker “Load Me Up” – one of the original album’s biggest hits – is turned on its head as a melancholy acoustic track. The new version of “Suburbia” features a synth beat and guitar lick that bears no resemblance to the original.
Good says he had a great time revisiting the songs. He initially planned to just do them acoustically, but they soon took on a life of their own.
“I sat down here in my office and me and Warne (Livesey, producer) decided that I would just play them acoustically. So I sat down and played them acoustically, except for ‘Suburbia,’ which I basically put a synth part down for and sang.”
Once he got into Bathouse Studio in Ontario with his band, they began experimenting with drum patterns, guitar licks and bass lines, building on his acoustic versions. Good says the process was easier than working on brand new songs, because he was working on the skeletons of songs he originally recorded 17 years prior. The EP also features new versions of “Born To Kill,” “Let’s Get It On” and “I Miss New Wave.”
Looking back on 1999’s Beautiful Midnight, Good says it’s a “great record,” but there are things about he would change if he could.
“I don’t like the way I sing on the record,” he says. “It was very, kind of youthful and naive and very shouty. I would never sing it like that way again, as the EP kind of shows. There was a lot of growing up in that area I had to do. It was very bombastic.”
Asked if there are albums he would like to see performed in their entirety, Good says Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden would be his top two. He’d also love to see The Police revisit Synchronicity or Reggatta de Blanc and Patti Smith do Horses.
While he’s visiting the past in the first part of 2017, Good continues to look ahead. He is writing songs for his next album, which he says is inspired by “original new wave” bands like Joy Division and New Order.
“Shit gets boring if you just keep doing the same thing,” Good says. “There are definitely bands that can do it. AC/DC, I don’t know that I really want them to go make a jazz record. They do what they do and they do it really well.”
He shares that part of the disintegration of the Matthew Good Band stemmed from his own frustration with their last album, The Audio of Being (2001), which he calls “disjointed.”
“For me, there wasn’t enough of a change in that album,” he says. “And you had these personalities in a band, and I just kind of had a vision of what it is that I wanted to go and do. I’ve been lucky, but unfortunately you’re faced with the reality of, ‘do I go and do what I do and take a hit and be less popular or do I continue to try and do this and stay where I am?’ And, for me, in my career, it’s a no brainer. Something like Underdogs or Beautiful Midnight just came along at the right time, as far as sales are concerned. It’s one of those things. But then I made a record with a huge symphony orchestra all over it.”
Matthew Good tour dates:
- February 11, 2017: Victoria, BC – Alix Goolden Performance Hall
- February 12, 2017: Campbell River, BC – Tidemark Theatre
- February 14, 2017: Nanaimo, BC – The Port Theatre
- February 17, 2017: Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
- February 18, 2017: Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
- February 19, 2017: Kelowna, BC – Kelowna Community Theatre
- February 21, 2017: Red Deer, AB – Red Deer Memorial Centre
- February 22, 2017: Grande Prairie, AB – Better Than Fred’s
- February 24, 2017: Calgary, AB – Grey Eagle Resort & Casino Event Centre
- February 25, 2017: Edmonton (Enoch), AB – River Cree Resort & Casino
- February 26, 2017: Saskatoon, SK – O’Brians Event Centre
- February 28, 2017: Winnipeg, MB – Burton Cummings Theatre
- March 3, 2017: London, ON – London Music Hall
- March 4, 2017: Hamilton, ON – Hamilton Place Theatre
- March 6, 2017: Waterloo, ON – Maxwell’s Concerts & Events
- March 7, 2017: Sarnia, ON – The Station Music Hall
- March 8, 2017: Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
- March 9, 2017: Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
- March 11, 2017: Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
- March 13, 2017: Picton, ON – The Regent Theatre
- March 14, 2017: Peterborough, ON – Showplace Performance Centre
- March 16, 2017: Ottawa, ON – NAC – Southam Hall
- March 17, 2017: Oshawa, ON – The Music Hall
- March 18, 2017: Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
- March 21, 2017: Fredericton, NB – Fredericton Boyce Farmer’s Market
- March 22, 2017: Charlottetown, PEI – PEI Brewing Company
- March 24, 2017: Moncton, NB – Tide & Boar
- March 25, 2017: Halifax, NS – The Marquee Ballroom
Eric Lewis is a writer based in Moncton, N.B.