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Matthew Sweet, Below The Surface

Artist Explores Memories of Home and Family on New Album

A move back to his native Nebraska to an old three-level 1937 house, the rediscovery of his childhood and the loss of his mother inspired Matthew Sweet’s latest double LP Tomorrow Forever. He had already begun a Kickstarter campaign to fund a project when he and his wife moved back to Nebraska in December of 2013, nine months before his mother died.

“We were really good with each other. We’re two people that are too alike so there’s sort of an awkwardness between us in some way. I’m really happy to say that had gone by the wayside long before she passed away. I would just say to anybody who has weirdness with their parents, make friends with them,” says Sweet, whose song “You Knew Me” pays homage to her.

The loss froze him and put him behind on the album. He was supposed to deliver the record in late Spring 2015, but he wasn’t able to begin it until then. When he did finally get started, however, the music poured out.

“Somehow my memories had become very remote to me from traveling around the world,” says Sweet, who works in his personal studio, called Black Squirrel Submarine. “When I moved back, all that stuff came back to me—like when I first was in bands, what it was like when I worked at Beats Music, the feeling of when I got my first electric bass guitar.”

By summer of 2015 he had recorded 15 songs with longtime rhythm section members Paul Chastain, who played another guitar along with Sweet, and drummer Ric Menck. In late 2015, Menck returned to Nebraska to work on another batch of material that Sweet describes as “more jangly power-pop songs.”

In early 2016, another bunch of songs was created with Bangles drummer Debbie Peterson that Sweet characterizes as “moody and slow.” As artist, producer and engineer, Sweet says his recording process is simple: “I’ve always played a guitar and sang something whether it’s dummy words or melody, along with a drummer. I kinda know when I have the drum track where I can make what I think I’m gonna make.”

The drums are set up at the end of the room with an AEA R88 stereo ribbon used as an overhead mic on drums, Sennheiser e602 and e604s on the kick and toms.