“It’s all light and shade isn’t it…”
Interview by Gary Cordwell
Hi Matt, thank you to talking to Midlands Rocks. Firstly, congratulations on the record, it’s a triumph! (reviewed here)
Thanks Gary, me and my friends enjoyed making it. Cheers for your support, I appreciate it.
Why “Lucid”? Is there relevance/meaning to the title?
It’s about clarity after a time of darkness. About perspective, like in It’s A wonderful Life when the main character realises he hasn’t wasted his life working in a small town ’cause of all the lives he has touched.
Is there a unifying theme or philosophy behind the album?
Realising how lucky you are. I’m a lucky person to have the family I have, the friends and the opportunity to make records like I do. I know this. I forget sometimes, but I know I’m lucky.
You have said that the record was borne ‘of a dark time’. Will this make it difficult or gruelling to play live?
Well it’s about the joyous aftermath really! It’s pretty positive, about resilience and all that. ‘The Bridge’ is a really heavy tune, emotionally but I’ve not played that one live. I do love that one thou.
There has been a three year gap between this and Relic, your previous album. Did Lucid take three years to make or did it come together quickly?
Some did. It took a long time to co-ordinate the collaborators; that was hard. I wanted it to be a big step up and I was also making music with Fierce And The Dead as well so that kept me busy and doing a shed load of gigs. In the end the process was quite quick, right at the end.
Lucid feels to me as though it is intended to be listened to in one sitting. Was the pacing and tracklisting of the album important to you?
It is! I think the process of creating a tracklisting is an act of composition. I look at the keys of the songs, the timbre and tempo and build it from there. The context of an album is important. For example Celtic Frost’s Into The Pandemonium works so well ’cause of how different the tracks are from orchestral to pop, metal and industrial. I think that juxtaposition is important. The Beatles were the masters of this.
Who and what were your influences to Lucid, both musical and otherwise?
Stewart Lee for his attitude to improvisation and improvisation, check out his book. Alan Moore for his vision and the fact he was someone from Northamptonshire (like me) that did something remarkable with his life. John Mclaughlin’s chord progressions and Bob Mould’s tunes. Jesu’s guitars and Celtic Frost’s ambition. My friend and mentor Richard Beaumont for forcing me to play in 13/8 when I was 14. Phillip Glass and Slayer. My friends, weird stuff on the internet. The usual stuff.
How did some of the collaborations on the record come about? It must have been fantastic playing with Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson).
Just friends or in the case of Pat a friend of a friend, Lorenzo Feliciati who played bass on the track on the record was in the studio with Pat making a record and asked him to play on it. He liked the track and said yes and I love his playing and I’m a Crimson fan. Pat’s amazing but Stu who played drums on the record is also one of my favorite drummers. Chrissie played violin on the last record. Kev the producer I’ve known since I was 14 and he’s great. Charlie is a mate from Knifeworld, as is Emmett. Jem played a great Mahavishnu type solo. They’re all stunning musicians and it was a pleasure to work with them.
There seems to be a vulnerability, an almost studious feel, to the gentler songs. How important are they in the overall picture?
It’s all light and shade isn’t it. I love people like Nick Drake or Joe Pass and that vulnerability is an important thing for me. RM Hubbert’s recent work also has that feel and I love his stuff.
Will we be seeing you playing live in support of Lucid? Will it be Matt Stevens solo or will you have a band?
The current tour is solo, just me and a loop pedal and an acoustic guitar. I would love to play a show with all this played by a full band, but it’s not cost effective at the moment to make it happen, where as I can play solo gigs and travel by train. If the record does really well I do hope to do a full-band solo tour though.
Again, thanks for talking to us at Midlands Rocks. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
I also play in the band Fierce And The Dead, if you like Lucid you’ll probably enjoy that as well! Thanks so much for your support, I really appreciate it. Thank you!