Happy Independence Day weekend! Nashville’s Matt Lovell talks about feeling free after a long, sometimes dark and painful road to his debut full-length, Nobody Cries Today. It’s out now, but there was a time shortly after the songs were recorded four years ago, that he wasn’t so sure this album would ever see the light of day. On January 20, 2017 Matt Lovell was walking to his car when he happened upon someone trying to steal it. That sixteen-year-old then shot Matt in the chest. He not only survived this incredible trauma; he is thriving now as he begins another chapter of life with the release of these nine songs.
AnaLee: Congratulations, Matt! You started writing this record in 2012 and recorded it in 2016. Instead of planning the album's release that next January, you were recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Can you tell me how you're feeling this week as you finally see your dream for this music become reality?
Matt: Hey, Ana Lee! Thanks so much for having me on for a chat. Yes, it’s been a long road. I would say this era of my life is packed with a lot of emotion and gratitude. There is a lot of life in this record for me. I started writing it in a very vibrant but difficult period of my life. I was in my mid-20s at the time and I had just come out of the closet. For me, music was (and still is) a tool for me to process the life I’m living, so I threw a lot of my thoughts and feelings into these songs. I finally started working on recording this album in 2016, and finished tracking it just months before I was shot. For obvious reasons, I had to take a big step away from life after the shooting to create space for healing and re-centering. I’m now on the other side of what I call that “long nighttime” and it feels so good to be able to sing these songs again. Releasing these songs feels a bit like mining the past. This record is a bit of a time capsule for me, as it was recorded by a guy who was living a completely different life. It’s a bit haunting when I listen to these recordings, because I know that the person singing songs had no idea that he was just about to have a very close brush with death, and a grueling physical and emotional recovery.
The experience of the shooting and my recovery from it have gifted me with a lot of things. In so many ways I feel healthier, happier, and more free than I have ever been. It’s nice to feel free. I think as a gay man of southern origin I always felt out of place on this planet. I no longer feel that way. Almost losing your life will make you feel very in-touch with your humanity. To be alive among the living is the only qualification I need anymore. My heartbeat now serves as my sense of belonging here, and I’m so thankful to be here—still singing, laughing, messing up, trying again, and doing all of the other human things among other humans.
AnaLee: Did you change anything about the recording after you recovered and were able to start focusing on releasing music again?
Matt: All but one of these songs were recorded just before the shooting. We added one song to Nobody Cries Today about a year ago. I had this little duet that I wrote with Leigh Nash called Dime Adiós. Leigh and I have loved this song since the day we wrote it, and we released it together as a single last year. It found a home on my record and I’m so glad to have it as a part of this collection of songs.
AnaLee: You look really happy and healthy in the video for the song Trouble. Tell us a little about the song and the concept for the video.
Matt: Aww, thank you! I feel happy! I’m glad that it’s visible. It’s nice to be happy, but you get a lot more songs out of being sad! (Joking, but seriously.)
The video for Trouble was produced by my dear friends Jason Lee Denton and Aliegh Shields Denton. We collaborated on all three of the music videos for this record—90 Proof, Alligator Lilly, and Trouble. Jason and Aliegh are so much fun to work with. Their creativity is so rich and pure, and working with them always makes me feel like I’m a kid in the sandbox. The video depicts me dancing around with a big shiny character that we call the “Trouble Monster”. The whole idea of the song is that trouble can be a force of good in our lives. With a light heart, a little sass, and a good/bad attitude, trouble can be a lot of fun, and it can teach you some of life’s most valuable lessons.
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.