Exclusive Interview: Matt Wertz

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Singer/songwriter Matt Wertz is performing in Bryan at Grand Stafford Theater as part of his Gun Shy tour on Wednesday, September 14. We sat down with Matt to discuss career moves, inspirations, and the future.

MW: You moved from Nashville to Los Angeles to get out of your comfort zone; what exactly fueled your decision?

Wertz: Yes, I moved cities for about four months to try to provoke some inspiration and put myself in an uncomfortable situation where I would be meeting new people and have a change in locale. I look back at my career and one of my favorite records I ever made was right after I moved to Nashville. The songs that came out of that time when I was in a new place and working with new people were really special. I wanted to see if I could do it again in a different location; and it worked. When I was thinking about the type of album I wanted to make and the way I wanted the songs to sound; and LA is known for the pop music industry and it’s all being recorded out there and in Nashville we were producing country music. I realized that instead of trying to make a pop album in Nashville, I needed to go where the current was moving toward pop music and learn everything about how the songs were recorded out there. I wanted to see if I could challenge myself by putting myself in a situation like that.

MW: Speaking of different genres, why did you gravitate toward pop instead of country, coming from Nashville?

Wertz: When I think about it, I realize over the years my music has started becoming more like country and it’s not necessarily something I’m trying to do. And when I think about the music I listened to, the playlists I’ve made, it was pop music but there was also a time I would listen to Keith Urban and Eric Church. But over the last few years I’ve been more a fan of pop music. I feel like I’ve been becoming more and more like the city I had been living in and creating in.

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MW: Have there been certain people that have inspired your music?

Wertz: Absolutely; and it’s been different people during different seasons of my life. The people that first got me into songwriting are different from the people that inspired my music on this album. At one point the Goo Goo Dolls were really influential to my songwriting. More recently it’s been Max Martin, who produced the Taylor Swift record, and a lot of the people being played on the radio right now. Every step of the way I am always listening to music and taking a few things in. I’m assuming that if I get to make another album, it will be a slight pivot from this one. John Mayer has been a big influence and so have Tom Petty, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

MW: While we’re on the topic of inspirations, what songs would you say have fueled your career?

Wertz: There have been a few songs that have done heavy lifting for me to get out and spread the word. “Everything’s Right” is one of those songs and a song called “5:19”; those are the two big ones and there is a second tier of three or four songs. “Counting to 100,” a song called “Carolina,” and “The Way I Feel” that are in the second tier. I’m hoping a song from this album will take on a life of its own.

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MW: Have there been any musicians that you have worked with that have inspired you or have sparked ideas?

Wertz: All of the people I have gotten to work with have inspired me, including friends of mine like Dave Barnes and Ben Rector, and my buddy Will Anderson who’s in a band called Parachute. Even if I haven’t written with them the community in Nashville ends up spurring each other on, even if it’s indirectly. When a friend puts out a new album and it’s really great, it makes you want to do something that great and it makes you get yourself in gear. It’s healthy competition that helps make some great music.

MW: What do you think will be your next move after the Gun Shy tour?

Wertz: That is a great question. I think what we’ll do is gauge and see how this tour went and see if there is a demand for another tour, like “Should we do that again in the spring?” If you listen to “Gun Shy,” you’ll notice it’s a pop album and what could be cool would be to do an acoustic version of that record, just to give a different perspective on the songs.

I’d really love to tour the album as it is, as much as possible and by no means am I abandoning the acoustic guitar. We want to throw a party; we want people to dance and have a great time.

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