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Members include Ian Browne, drums, percussion; Dave Genn, guitars, keyboards, background vocals; Matthew Good (born on June 29, 1971, in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada), lead vocals, guitar; Geoff Lloyd (left group, 1999), bass; Rich Priske (joined group, 1999), bass. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104. Universal Music, 1345 Denison Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 5V2, website: http://www.umusic.com. Website--Matthew Good Band Official Website: http://www.matthewgoodband.com.
Matthew Good has all the makings of a classic, troubled rock star. He eschews award shows, insults sponsors of his performances, and has even gone out of his way to destroy a record deal. But his fellow Canadians revel in it, spending thousands of dollars to hear his dark lyrics and witness his acerbic live shows. Good's group, the Matthew Good Band, has achieved both popular and critical success, earning accolades that include two Canadian Juno Awards (the Grammy Award equivalent) in 2000.
Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Good began his career as a folk singer, a far cry from the guitar assault that Good now features on his records. Backed by a cellist, violinist, and pianist, Good independently released two cassettes--1993's Broken and 1994's Euphony on his own Black Spinning Disks--before the Pixies and Afghan Whigs inspired Good to move in a different musical direction. He left his group behind, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and hired a rock band. "I got caught up in the whole (folk music) circle, and I hated it," Good told Billboard. "It's terrible to get on a stage and play to people, thinking, 'I have nothing in common with any of these people.' (The original lineup of the band) went into the studio and recorded eight songs and we were going to record another eight songs, but those songs were scrapped when the band broke up."
Good and his new lineup proved to be successful rather quickly. The group's 1995 independent album, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts, quickly sold 20,000 copies. Monitoring Good's sales, the New Age/jazz/adult contemporary label Private Music in Los Angeles signed the group to a two-album deal in December of 1996. The partnership did not last long. On the first day of pre-production with producer Warne Livesey at Greenhouse Studios in Burnaby for what would become the band's sophomore album, Underdogs, Good was told by BMG Entertainment North America that it was merging Private Music into Windham Hill/High Street Records. "We hadn't rolled the tape for 20 minutes (in the session) when I got a call from (an executive at) Private Music saying everybody in the company had been let go," Frank Weipert of Teamworks Production Management in Vancouver told Billboard. "I was told the company was closing its doors in 48 hours. Obviously, we had to put a halt to production."
The new label, primarily known for its New Age/smooth jazz collections, considered Good's hard-edged rock group to be too heavy for its roster. In March of 1997, Windham Hill/High Street released the Matthew Good Band from its deal. The following May, the group released the Raygun EP to maintain its fan base. Good and his bandmates decided to forge ahead with the record with Livesey, who agreed to work as producer even though the band did not have label financing. The unmixed tracks, however, attracted the attention of PolyGram Group Canada Chairman John Reid. He told Billboard magazine that he was determined to sign the group: "What appeals to me about it is that Matthew is young, he's a star, he writes great songs, and there's a great team that's been put together that has created a career for the group." An affiliate label, A&M/Island/Motown of Canada, inked a contract with Good to release Underdogs.
The record, released in 1997, became one of Canada's most popular albums that year. It spawned three top five singles--"Everything is Automatic," "Indestructible," and "Apparitions"--and several award nominations. When the tour behind Underdogs wrapped up, Good immediately returned to Greenhouse Studios to record Beautiful Midnight, the songs for which he wrote two months after Underdogs was released. "There was 40 to 50 songs, so the band and I weeded out the ones we didn't like," Good said in record company press materials for Beautiful Midnight. "From there, we hit the road for Underdogs and kept working on the new stuff. Beautiful Midnight is very different from Underdogs, mostly because we wanted to make a record that had a lot more 'sonic' qualities."
In March of 2000, Good was the target of massive media criticism for failing to attend the Juno Awards, the Canadian version of the Grammys. The group won two Junos for Best Group and Best Rock Album. Canadian and American media offered a variety of alibis for Good ranging from a radio station concert in Burlington, Vermont, to a backyard barbecue in California. His reasoning, however, was consistent. Good defended his decision in many magazines and newspapers including the Ottawa Sun the following May. "Me, I'm just not one for that whole thing. I don't need a statue to validate what I do for a living. My mom thinks it's really great, so she's got them."
Beautiful Midnight, produced and mixed by Livesey (who had worked with Talk Talk and Midnight Oil), debuted at number one on the Canadian Soundscan chart in September of 2000. Three songs, "Hello Time Bomb," "Loaded," and "Strange Days," were top five Canadian rock-radio singles. Fans attached themselves to the brooding, hopeless tone of his lyrics. As a tongue-in-cheek response to his depressing songs, Good sent an advance copy of Beautiful Midnight to a psychologist. Good took the doctor's thoughts and turned them into a band biography that was sent to the media and radio with the album. One song on the album, "Like a Boy and His Machine Gun," inspired by the 1998 Springfield, Oregon, school shootings, prompted a critic to call Good's music "the equivalent of an action film--urgent and dangerous," according to theNational Post.
Despite the success, Good has maintained his reputation as "the bad boy of Canadian rock." His quotations have been publicized just as much as his music. On July 5, 2000, Calgary Sun reporter David Veitch noted a few of Good's most colorful quotes following a 30-minute interview he held with the controversial rocker. According to Good, most Canadian rock bands are boring onstage. "They just stand there. You're in front of 40,000 f***ing people, man. Set something on fire!" Good also told Veitch that Our Lady Peace is a "put-together band" whose greatest creative influence is producer Arnold Lanni. "Don't tout (OLP) as the greatest thing since sliced f***ing bread when the four of them couldn't sit around and make f***ing butter together."
Beautiful Midnight gave the Matthew Good Band the opportunity to share its music worldwide. Signed to Mercury Records in Germany, the band headed to the country with fellow rockers I Mother Earth and Jimmie's Chicken Shack for a four-date tour. The version of Beautiful Midnight that was released in the United States in 2001 is a modified edition of the Canadian issue. Three songs, remixed by Chris Lord-Alge, were removed and replaced with three tracks from the band's second album. Steve Marshall of the Daily Herald wrote that the Matthew Good Band has "the tools to make just as big an impact [in the United States]" as they have in Canada.
by Christina Fuoco
Matthew Good Band's Career
Formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1995; self-released debut, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts, 1995; signed to A&M Records, 1997; released EP Raygun, 1997; released Underdogs, 1998; released Beautiful Midnight on Universal Canada, 1999, and on Atlantic Records, United States, 2001.
Matthew Good Band's Awards
Pacific Music Award (now West Coast Music Awards), Best Rock/Pop Album with Independent Distribution for Last of the Ghetto Astronauts, 1997; Pacific Music Award, Male Vocalist of the Year (Good), 1998; Juno Awards, Best Group, Best Rock Album for Beautiful Midnight, 2000; Pacific Music Awards, Best Rock Release for Beautiful Midnight, Live Performer of the Year, Best Songwriter of the Year (Good), 2001.
- Selected discography
- Last of the Ghetto Astronauts , A&M (Canada), 1995.
- Underdogs A&M (Canada), 1998.
- Beautiful Midnight Universal Canada; 1999; Atlantic (United States), 2001.
- Billboard, October 11, 1997; September 11, 1999; January 27, 2001.
- Calgary Sun, July 5, 2000.
- Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 11, 2001.
- Daily News, October 22, 1999.
- National Post, November 26, 1999.
- Ottawa Sun, May 10, 2000.
- RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/default.asp?oid=4446 (September 17, 2001).
- Additional information was provided by Universal Records Canada and Atlantic Records publicity materials, 2001.
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