Free Babies in Oslo! From Texas to Norway with MLV / Interview with Matthew Logan Vasquez

Free Babies in Oslo! From Texas to Norway with MLV / Interview with Matthew Logan Vasquez

MLV is short for Matthew Logan Vasquez – Texas based musician (but soon Norway!), singer, writer, producer, guitarist, and more. Not to forget his old well known band The Delta Spirit, from which he takes a break since 3 years.  After releasing solo album no. 2  – „Does What He Wants“ – he receives growing interest  in the US, thus makes is possible to come to Europe to play some shows. In Cologne he was put on The Dead South bill on quite short notice, playing a 30 minute energetic kick ass support show which gained great applause. In fact, MLV was the only band out of three with amps on that night, so he could rock the audience away without taking something away from the headliner.

One hour before his show at Die Kantine venue, we took the opportunity to talk with MLV. What can we say? A nice guy in all ways, very polite and keen on letting us know all about the songs of his new album, his musical influences, his relationship with The Delta Spirit, Bruce, Tom, Nick, The Beatles and much more.

by Martin Hannig / Picture by courtesy of DevilDuck Booking OK  let’s begin with the mandatory question about  The Delta Spirit before we come to your works….

MLV: We got a break since about 3 years. I just want to finish my  stuff you know, going in a new direction for a while. I think Delta might come back. It just depends if you can make a great record or not. We’ll see. Ok that was the Delta part….

MLV: laughs. No its okay! Im happy to talk about Delta Spirit. Most people don’t even know Delta Spirit! But we know them, great band! … So now you play 2 shows as support of The Dead South from Canada. Do you know the guys?

MLV: I’ve met them a handful of times. I don’t go out to Saskatchewan very much – its very cold up there. My wife is from Norway so we get THAT cold all the time (laughs). They’re good guys, we’re actually labelmates, that’s why I’m here. It’s a good community. They have a very unique approach to playing music compared to your style…

MLV: Normally I kind of go both ways. But this time I bring the rock thing in. So I play a pure rock show.  Did you ever been to Cologne?

MLV:   I was here with Nathanial Rateliff one year ago.  I love the churches here and the guitar shops. I like it around here. I actually almost bought a guitar here! But it was too expensive. It was one of these chinese Blueridge guitars. It was a great acoustic guitar shop, I had so much fun. Let’s talk about „MLV Does What He Wants“ – your new album. Is that what you want: playing live?

MLV: Yeah. The thing about my career –  I was always running away from one point to another, when it became too popular. Now I wanted to make a record without a specific genre. A collection of songs that are really good. I didn’t know which songs would work in front of people. Maybe this Harry Nilsson song, or this Roy Orbison style song, at the end of the record, or that Jeff-Lynne-ELO or ZZ TOP-kind of sound. It’s fun to do that stuff with the band, my Texas guys. That’s what we doin in our show and it’s really fun! Tonight we only have 30 minutes to play so with that limited amount of time we play just one Delta Spirit song. We just want to convince people to drink as much  and as quickly as possible.  Next time I come maybe I get to have a headlining show, maybe for 30 people and with a 2 hours playing, that would be great. The new album has a very different approach. There’s no Neil Young guitar like on the 1st album….

MLV: When I was setting out to make the first record, I wanted one that brings the mid 70ies rocknroll music. No bullshit, all rocknroll attitude. Most of the new record come to that attitude on its own, but I don’t think it has to be the same. „Same“ is also the 1st song of the new album and while listening to the first drum patterns I instantly went „oh that’s ELO“, like „Don’t bring me down“!

MLV: Ya it’s like every disco song (imitates the drums). And the strings on that adds so much! It goes in another direction, also with the female vocals. „Same“ just came that way.  The late time Patti said it best: writing songs is like you hear the song in another room and you try to steal the song. But Kam is fantastic on that song.

MLV: Kam is fantastic on every song! She’s really special. There’s another song: „Fatherhood“ which really grabs me. Being also a father I know what you mean. It changes everything right?

MLV: Absolutely! I wrote that song when becoming a father – you know how exciting that is. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s a line in the song about going to the hospital being pregnant and it’s so expensive. Is it a real story?  Paying for the hospital for having a baby?

MLV:  Yes. You know I love Texas, I love the culture,  I love the music in Texas, the friendliness, all of those things. I really love it. But it is also No. 1 in maternity death. It’s No. 50  – last place in the US – in medical care! It’s like 8.000 at least to have a child.  Unless you are really poor than it’s free. You can get it cheaper  – but if you choose a good safe clean hospital and you want to have drugs during birth… So you could die or you could pay like for a new car just to have a baby.  It’s bullshit. It’s because – money and politics… We can’t imagine that here in Germany. Here you go into a hospital, get the baby, and you don’t pay for anything.

MLV: And I got a bill for my baby (laughs). In the song’s video we can see your little boy with a Metallica shirt on…

MLV: Oh yes haha! He likes Metallica. I saw them a few weeks ago, it was a great show. They are still so good. So loud! A fantastic band! The first song he ever heard was  „Beautiful Boy“ from John Lennon, the second was „Warpigs“ . I went to Ozzy’s birthplace in Birmingham. It’s pretty cool! It’s still blue collar working class. „Redfish “ sounds very Beatles to me, the chords and progressions…. You even SOUND like Lennon on this…

MLV: Oh he is my biggest influence. John Lennon is the shit. Plastic Ono Band, Double Fantasy. Obviously all the Beatles records. So you are a Lennon man, not a McCartney man!

MLV: Yes. But I like McCartny now! The older I get the more I realise that McCartney was the only adult in the room at times. Maybe George also…

MLV: I think George had his own shit to deal with … „Here comes the sun“ is one of the most beautiful song EVER written I guess.

MLV: Oh yeah it’s so amazing. Chord changes are so brilliant! The lyric is so perfect. The message is so good. „House full of music“,  last song of your album….

MLV: Well that’s a true story! Somebody wear a DELTA SPIRIT shirt at a Dallas Mavericks basketball game. That’s how we deal about him as a fan. He had a wife and 2 kids. He was on a ride on a WWII airplane, but the plane crashed and he died…  That’s why it sounds like a Roy Orbsion song. It’s so OTT and very Roy…

MLV: I wanted it to be just like that. I actually pushed it more Lennon and Nilsson. I didn’t wanted to make it just like a Roy cover. But the chord structure, the melody is Roy. He was the greatest voice that ever happened! Him and Freddie Mercury.  Ah okay I love Queen, all time faves!

MLV: The Live Aid video is stunning, I have the DVD. He loses his voice on this, and he’s still fighting and giving it all. Freddie is brilliant! For you as an american singer and songwriter – how do you feel about Tom Petty recently dying?

MLV: Someone said „Losing Tom Petty is like losing the existence of concrete“. You know you don’t think about the existence of Tom ever. These songs come on and it’s like: let’s roll another joint. „Its good to be king“ and all that kind of songs. „Echo“ is on of my favourite albums. To me he stays so relevant. „Learning to fly“ – 3 chords forever…

MLV: And its Jeff Lynne! He put all of his creative efforts  into Tom Petty’s simplicity and genius. All of his songs are about the underdog, about unity and love. And when it’s getting tough, it’s like – it’s tough man but I’m shakin it off, fuck you. Great. And his stuff with the Travelling Wilburys. It’s the perfect retro music! I was a child when it came out and I can remember travelling from California to Texas, back to the desert in  the backseat between my brother and sister and than came  „I’m so tired of being lonely“ (sings like Orbison!!)  „Everybody got somebody to leaaaan on“ (imitates Dylan!) (laughing all around!). I mean Petty reinvigorated Bob Dylan! He is so special. And he is from fuckin Florida… And he somehow got Mike Campbell in the band, one of the greatest ever! People go always: „What’s the greatest american band?“ And it’s The Heartbreakers, its always been The Heartbreakers. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,  they wrote every „can I help you“ guitar lick, in the guitar center. Mike Campbell he can play the dumbest lick  bit it’s so cool and intentional and full of his personality. Like Billy Gibbons. For me I can’t decide between Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street-Band. Watching the boss live it’s like a holy mess of rocknroll…

MLV: The E-Street Band is really powerful. I think you have to be in Asbury Park to really understand what’s it all about. It’s very similar to Texas with the community of live musicians .  My friend produced the Wrecking Ball record that he did, also produced his wife’s album. The power of their vocals,  it’s just union singing peoples voices. – It’s a spiritual thing, it’s like all one voice amplified. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds do that really well. Nick Cave I watched him 2 weeks ago!

MLV: Was he good? It was one of the best experiences in my life. I mean I watched hundreds of concerts – but that was outstanding, exceptional. Like being part of something unreal.

MLV: He is powerful. Like when he steps the barriers, and leans out, and a friend of mine was there and he grabs him! Dude! And  shoved his dick right in his face…. he was just so good. Nick motherfuckin Cave. He can create a mystique. And Warren Ellis – he is one of the single coolest human beings. I mean Keith Richards is cool, but Warren Ellis –  I watched a documentary about him – he is actually the sweetest human man around.  There’s a story. Friends of mine once watched The Bad Seeds, big fans. After the gig they had a few beers in a bar down in the city. And one hour later in came: Warren Ellis! And he sat down and talked to my friends! What a nice guy he was.

MLV: Yeah the australians, they are good in these things. If you are a nice person, I talk to you.  They wanna find something in common you know. Like having kids or gardening…  Australians are good like that. Ok Mat what are your plans for 2018?

MLV: Become Nick Cave (laughs) murder him and wear his suit and steal his soul. Okay apart from being a Bad Seed what’s your plan…?

MLV:  Right now I’m writing a new album, that is actually a lot more like the rocknroll stuff. It’s a weird road to make good loud music. Part of it it’s intention, part of it is having really great lyrics. Just trying to find my own voice in that world and try to make music, that I can be happy playing. Is it going well for you in the US? People are coming to your shows?

MLV: Yes! It’s been fantastic! It’s not as big as The Delta Spirit, but there are so many true fans, and they come around when I’m on tour. It kind of earns it’s own way.  And it think Delta Spirit is gonna make a go for it in the next year. But in the meantime I’m gonna make one more of my own records.  Because I have to move to Oslo with my family. I finish that and than I can make time. You move to Oslo with your family?

MLV: We’re gonna emigrate.  More babies cost lots more, in Norway it’s free (laughs). It’s like Little Steven in the series Lillyhammer (laughs).  So hopefully you gonna see a lot more from me when I’m around here in Europe. Ok, Mat, thanks for talking to us and have a good show tonite!