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You’re playing the TNT 30th birthday show, are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, I’ve not played with Ash [Grunwald] or Polly [Money] before, so I’m looking forward to it. It works out nicely, as I’m off to Holland the week after for four dates on the coast. Holland’s nice as it so small, just two hours across – the size of East Anglia [where he’s from] basically.

Since your debut album, Long Straight Lines, was out last year, you’ve been touring the world pretty much…Yeah, I have been away quite a lot. I did a two-week tour in Spain with [ex-Slowdive frontman] Neil Halstead. We went around Spain in his campervan and got all our stuff nicked. And I went to Indonesia, and did some gigs out there with [surfboard maker] Deus.
Is travelling a big part of your life?I am always travelling in the spiritual sense, whether that takes me to other countries [or not], it’s part of the same thing. I like new experiences. 

What’s new on the horizon?

I am just about to embark on a whole new chapter of my life as I am going to boat building college. I have always loved working outdoors but now I want to get some serious skills.

How did you go about writing Lines?

It normally happens quite organically. I won’t force it, then I’ll go travelling or do something different and then something will spring to mind. But right now I am writing the music for a film. 

What’s the movie?

It is a feature film called SuperBob made by two friends of mine who are skateboarders and used to make skate films. They liked my music and asked me to get on board. It is a romantic comedy about a reluctant superhero, but very English, like Peep Show.  

What’s been the most challenging aspect of writing for film?

In a way, there is more expectation. And it’s really hard to write a happy song on demand.

You’re a big surfer – do you have to seek it out in Suffolk?

Yeah, as much as you look for them, the waves are never really big here, but you can still take the long board out and enjoy it. It’s just about being in the sea. I find it really rewarding and centring. It keeps me rooted.

Did you pick it up easily?

It is a difficult thing to learn. I started body-boarding when I was 16 but then moved inland for six years. As soon as I got back to the sea I got stuck into stand-up surfing. It takes a lot of dedication … a lot of people try it out and find themselves giving up.

How do you feel about being tagged with the new-folk genre?

I don’t totally understand it. I am out of touch. I don’t really gig in London that often, only when touring, and it is mainly based there. There seems to be a weird ‘countryside’ thing going on. 

Mostly in southwest London it seems…Which is obviously a bit of a dressing up game, otherwise they would be in the countryside, right?

I don’t really know, some people call it anti-folk, too, which is really weird. I just see myself as a songwriter, I live in Suffolk and there is a scene down here with really good musicians. 

Who would you like to write a song with – past or present?

Probably my great-great-uncle, Henri Bergson. He was a famous philosopher and would be a great person to write a song with. He won the Nobel Prize [for literature in 1927]. I don’t know that much about him but he was quite a deep thinker. He’d probably have some great lyrical ideas.

Who have been your biggest influences?

Probably one of the biggest was a guy who died last week, Frank Prendergast. He was the singer in our local blues band and we grew up watching him play the local hall for 25 years. He was a big influence on me and my brothers. He used to play a lot of covers but it was his performances.

He worked as a director and made a lot of stuff for TV, but when on stage it was like he flicked a switch – he became this community leader and would throw out all this energy and get everyone dancing. And that’s what music is about, it is a community thing. 

He was a unifying performer…

Yeah, with him it wasn’t about ego, it was about giving things to the people you live near and live with so that they can have a good time. I find that really inspiring. It’s what I’d like to be doing in 20 years.

Matthew P plays the TNT 30th Birthday bash at Koko, July 28. £15  NW1 7JE  
Tube | Mornington Crescent  
tntmagazine.com/30bday
matthewpmusic.com


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Interview - Matthew P: The musician on local influences, why surfing matters and playing the TNT 30th birthday bash
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