When I started my career in journalism, I vowed to myself that I would interview all of the musicians that I had followed years previous. Who better to do it? I have a deep understanding and appreciation for their work and love their music. I wanted to get away from the typical questions that these artists were usually asked. (Seriously, who wants to hear “what does [insert band name] mean” or “who are your influences” a hundred times?)
After weeks of anticipation, the Tuesday finally arrived—the Tuesday that I was able to interview Matt Goud of Northcote. My anticipation was high because this is the man that helped me through hell and high waters with his lyrics and it was my time to get personal with him.
My timer went off at 10:00 AM PST. It was go time. I dialed the contact number I was given, my heart beating, hoping I wasn’t going to start the interview awkwardly (like I am known to do). A friendly voice picked up and said, “Hello”. I was sure it was Matt, but how could I be absolutely positive? I said, “HI! Is Matt there?” like I did in grade school when people still called each other. The friendly voice on the other end assured me it was Matt—“speaking”. I promptly introduced myself and the publication I worked for, and let him know that I was a bit nervous. (Interviewing isn’t really my strong suit.) He laughed, asked me how everything was going and we made small talk for a few minutes. After I was feeling comfortable, I opened my notepad (virtual of course) and started asking my preplanned questions.
“Matt”, I said clearing my throat, “your first album, Borrowed Chords, Tired Eyes, was produced in 2009. How long have you been producing music?” Matt replied, “I was in punk hardcore bands in high school. I lived in Manitoba at a Christian boarding school, and learned to play live playing punk in the late 90s.” “Wowzers” I said, since that’s a word I apparently use in professional interviews. I decided to keep the question on track. “So do you still have a religious undertone in your music?”
Matt went on about him and his friends playing their music at churches when they were younger. He admitted to having “spiritual roots”, further explaining that “[he has] no messages or Christian convictions” and how it becomes a big part of who you are and that is undeniable. When he added that “[he] still [has] a positive hope for the future,” I was puzzled—did he mean Heaven or did he mean his career?
Since I didn’t want to have too much religious speakings in our transcriptions I changed the subject. “Three albums later… are you satisfied with where Northcote has led you?” Expecting a “Yes totally, I love where I am,” or something along the lines, Matt surprised me by saying “Yes and no.” I replied with, “Sure, go on”. He proceeded, “I am really happy about touring this record, the steps and the song writing. It seems to line up a bit more of the heart and soul of what Northcote is”. He talked further about how he was touring Europe, “taking on some new territory”, trying to get in front of as many people as he could. “We will be creating some important music in the future; something people can relate to and can take with them”. I didn’t get the answer for his previous Yes/No response, but it was awkward to go back and ask so I stayed on topic. “Is it more than just you on that tour?”
“Half [of] the time I tour solo, but it’s starting to include more and more other players,” he contested. He started getting deep and allegorical explaining how he thinks of Northcote as a community. “On the new record I use the Northcote team—it’s a solo project in a way but the heart behind it is collaborative. It needs the team”. Continuing the conversation I said, “Speaking of team, you seem to know a lot of musicians; CloseTalker, Gold and Shadow to name a few. How did you get to know everyone?” He laughed and paused for a few seconds. With what seemed to be a well thought out answer he said, “I am getting a bit older. In my old band we toured extensively, so I got to know people. I stay pretty active; I am dedicated to touring and I enjoy it”. I asked, “So do you still use the iconic white van to travel the country or have you upgraded the wheels?”
Laughing again, he replied “The white van is long gone!” Further telling me about his little black Toyota, and then having a Dodge Caravan, but shared some bad news about a car crash that happened this year, and that one is no longer. “Now I have a grey van, but the minivan is where I wrote most of the new record so I was sad to see it go.” With a brief silence I then replied, “Sad to hear, Matt”.
I decided to get a bit more personal—and what I left out from you guys in the intro was that my friend Jeremiah Palmer lived with Matt in Manitoba. He’s the one that introduced me to the likes of Northcote. With that being said, I asked Matt, “My friend [Jeremiah Palmer] lived with you in Manitoba, and when we played your album [Borrowed Chords], we were able to follow your story, “death in the family” so on and so forth—do your more recent albums have the same story line?” Matt responded “Well, I think the first record has more stories. However, the new record is a time piece”. “Explain”, I said. He went on, “Just being in your mid-twenties in society. Being in transition. It’s the culture of movement and anxiety”. “So do you have any other music out besides the three albums?” He laughed and said “Short answer is no. Only bonus tracks really. I am collaborating with a garage band”.
I told him to let me know when that is out, so I could take a listen. I segued the conversion back to his shows, asking about his top hits and his usual set list. He talked a bit about how the original Northcote followers have been fans of the first EP, so he always plays a few from there. Also there are a few songs of his from the new record on the radio that he will play. “The new record seems to be generating some buzz. It has some sing along quality and we recorded new vocals on it.”
Running out of time on my allotted 20 minutes, I asked him about physicals vs. digital albums—if it’s still worth having them around. “I still take physicals on tour. I even started vinyl.” Matt had me note that, “It’s a good way to support a band, buy an album” and went on saying that it’s definitely not like it used to be. Comparing Adele to Alanis Morissette, and how Adele was the biggest seller. But people bought CDs by the truckload back when Alanis was big.
I thanked Matt for our interview, and assured him that I tried to get everything down accurately. I told him to check the interview out in a few weeks—we would send him a link when it’s done. He thanked me and said goodbye. It reminded me of his song Goodnight, the way he said goodbye.