Al Matcott’s debut album, Summer’s Coming, is out now via Cheersquad Records & Tapes. The album is rife with existential interrogations, as Matcott refuses to shy away from the catastrophic implications of the rapidly unfolding climate crisis.
The album also contains several moments of heavy, bluesy rock catharsis. Matcott recorded Summer’s Coming alongside producer Wade Keighran and instrumentalists Brendan West (bass), Miranda Holt (drums) and Steve McLennan (guitar). Freya Josephine Hollick and Kate “Babyshakes” Dillon provide guest vocals, while Taylor Hollingsworth adds slide guitar.
Matcott will take Summer’s Coming on tour later this month. Find all the tour dates here and keep reading to learn about the intricacies of the album’s ten songs.
Al Matcott: Summer’s Coming
1. Everyone’s Gonna Let You Down
Al Matcott: This song was born from thinking about bringing a kid into the world right now. I’d hit that age where my friends had started having kids. And I was thinking about all the, like… you’ve read the news. Imagine having to explain all that while trying to raise them into wholesome adults.
I’d just finished reading The Myth of Sisyphus, which is about how to respond to questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” when the universe in all its majesty has no answers. Like, all right, life is going to suck, all your friends and family are going to let you down in one way or another, and then as you get older, you’ll find out what we as a species are capable of. And then what are you going to do once you’ve emotionally digested that?
The book argues we should “imagine Sisyphus happy” and find a way to fill our lives with passion, novelty and meaning despite the universe’s indifference. The lyrics to this song formed as a sort of mission statement reflection on that.
I’m not sure how I decided upon the structure and dynamics of this song. It’s like four different songs smashed together. I do know once Steve McLennan [guitar] joined, I was excited because it meant the beginning of the song would sound like some feral, Comets on Fire caterwauling steam-train. And I know that early on I knew I wanted it to be the opening track.
2. Four Walls
Al: I wrote this song while trapped at home during lockdown. It’s about social media – not exactly a revolutionary opinion, but I wasn’t and still am not a fan. I was reading about how it was designed like casinos to be as addictive as possible, how it’s led to like a 400% increase in the rates of self-harm among teenage and pre-teen girls, constant surveillance, subtly manipulating our behaviour, how it’s commandeered and used to erode trust in society for profit. All that shit. Again, it’s hardly news, but it had me huffing and puffing.
I love A Place To Bury Strangers and this song is basically me trying to jack their sound in a bunch of ways. One night during lockdown, I was getting hammered by myself and I woke up the next morning and I’d sent A Place To Bury Strangers an Instagram DM talking about how much I loved a new song of theirs. Sappy, embarrassing stuff. I hadn’t remembered doing it, but they had responded with a nice message, which was cool.
3. O My Darling
Al: I’d been playing this song live at solo shows for a bit, but I hadn’t originally intended it to be on this album. I thought it was too country whereas the rest of the album was very rock. But my bass player, Brendan West, said, A) If you have a good song now, use it. Don’t wait around for years for the song to become more convenient. And, B) It will sound like it fits in with the rest of the songs because it’s us playing it, same time, same studio, et cetera. He was right.
This was another lockdown song. I was so devoid of human connection, I wrote a song about meeting someone “at the club” and taking them home – which I later realised I’ve never even done. I liked the idea of writing a song about picking up at the club that sounded nothing like a song about picking up at the club.
This song wasn’t pre-rehearsed before we went into the studio. It was just Brendan, Miranda on drums and I. Brendan’s bass parts were amazing. I think we only did like two takes and this was the second one. And Miz’s beats reminded me of Steven Drozd from The Flaming Lips, which I loved.
Brendan laid down a bunch of additional backing vocals, and Wade got Jack Ladder in to do some keys because they live near each other. For the guitar solo, I knew I wanted slide guitar. I emailed Taylor Hollingsworth. He’s this guitarist from Alabama who I came across because he was in Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band. I saw them at The Metro many years ago. They covered ‘Kodachrome’ by Paul Simon and I was in a band that also played that song, so I was in love.
Taylor has a super distinctive voice and style of guitar playing. I fucking love it. I recommend his album Life With A Slow Ear. So anyway, he emailed back, did the solo, and it was perfectly off-kilter. Like, just weird enough that the song doesn’t just sound like a straight-up alt-country thing. It’s got its own flavour, with the solo the perfect cherry on top. Thanks Taylor.
4. If I Can’t Make You Mine
Al: This is the oldest song on the album. We’d been playing this one as a band since not long after we started. My first recordings were just Brendan and I and we hadn’t rehearsed or even played together for years. This album was my first time in a studio, first time with a producer, first time with a practiced band, et cetera.
Miz’s drums sound huge. Brendan’s bass line is the song. Steve’s guitar tones are delicious. I was huge into Interpol when I was younger. I can’t write a post-punk song worth shit but I hit on something Interpol-esque with this one.
I’d started haphazardly doing meditation and mindfulness just before lockdown, then a lot during lockdown. One of the first ideas is noticing how you don’t consciously operate your thoughts and they just appear and somehow therefore they’re not you or not truly you, or something. I was trying to wrap my head around that idea, and also thinking about thought processes during periods from my past where I was very unhappy with who I was and how my life was going.
I was also thinking about this person I knew who got stuck looking at this one event from this one single perspective and got stuck on it for years. It was ultimately very destructive for them and a lot of their relationships. The lyrics from this song came from that. It’s a song about being held hostage by your own mind.
5. Dead Already
Al: This is how dumb I am: I’ve been working in renewable energy for almost seven years and only last year realised what fossil fuels actually were. I had no idea they were literally the former plant and animal matter of all of Earth’s history. Thinking about how people greedily dug them up to burn them to fuel an engine of infinite growth just seems like necromancy. Like something out of myth for which, of course, the consequences would be it unleashes the Four Horsemen.
I doubt anybody listening to my tunes will not have heard the news that it’s much worse than we’re being led to believe and instead of turning the ship around, emissions – and subsidies for those emitting them – are only increasing.
The full band recorded this one live together at Golden Retriever studio in Sydney. We hadn’t practiced it too much and it came out pretty natural and loose. Then we added layer upon layer of fuzz riffs. Wade Keighran, our producer, just kept making it bigger, darker. And then as a final touch, I added some Mellotron to make it full prog-rock.
There’s a few different settings where rock songs are supposed to sound cool. One is when you’re driving down a highway, preferably at night. Another is when you’re drinking. Another setting is when you’re smoking weed. This song should ideally sound at its best after the second cone, preferably while playing Age of Empires or Diablo.
Al: This is Miranda’s favourite song on the album. In this song, I don’t know if I’m either A) a woman; B) a man; or C) a vampire. But I do know that it’s a sex scene.
7. Our Mother the Mountain (feat. Freya Josephine Hollick)
Al: I’d been wanting to cover this Townes song for a long time. I thought it would fit in among the darker, heavier, gothic tones of the album. I also thought it made sense thematically. There’s another track sung from the perspective of mother earth, another song about a witch.
I wanted this song to sound like a ship being ripped apart on the rocks in a squall. Like in the 17th century or in Greek myth. I wanted it to sound cinematic and I wanted the female voice to be like a ghost or a siren, haunting the song.
I’d been listening to Freya Josaphine Hollick for a few years. I liked her album Feral Fusion. Unsurprisingly, she is also a huge Townes Van Zandt fan. Her album The Real World came out last year. I caught her at Out On The Weekend and she was unreal. She was the one.
We recorded her part and the fiddle and pedal steel with James Gilligan in Warrandyte. When I brought this song to the band for rehearsal for the album, I don’t think anyone quite understood my vision straight off the bat. But once we recorded it, then once Freya laid her voice down, it became the most exciting song. I’m very proud of it.
8. Knight of Cups
Al: During lockdown, my partner and I did a lot of tarot readings. I kept drawing the knight of cups. All the time. Eventually, he started pissing me off and reminding me of this version of myself that I hate, so I wrote this diss track.
This was one of those “don’t overthink it” songs. It was brand new – I only finished the words a couple of days before we recorded it. It was just Brendan, Miranda and I, again without much practice. Miranda was worried that she didn’t have a beat, didn’t know what to play. But she nailed it in two takes. She sounds ferocious.
9. A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
Al: This is probably my favourite song I’ve written. I don’t think it’s the best, but I like it the most. I think it’s because I wrote it with an intention to write a song specifically like this. Something bluesy, swampy, threatening. Like something from Mark Lanegan.
I knew I wanted the outcome of the story to remain vague but for it to be menacing. Usually a melody appears and I just follow wherever it leads. Whereas, this song I had a goal, worked at it, achieved it. The order of creation worked differently to what I was used to. I felt more empowered as a songwriter.
10. Summer’s Coming
Al: This song is supposed to be Mother Nature giving a kiss-off to humanity for everything we’re inflicting upon her, but kind of if she was a 17 year old writing a diary entry. I was really into the joint vocals of The Raveonettes and knew I wanted a woman singing with me. I asked Kate “Babyshakes” Dillon from Full Flower Moon Band.
She has so much versatility, so many shades, attitudes and personas she can adopt. Like Alison Mosshart or Bob Dylan. I was pumped when she said she’d be down to do the track. I knew I wanted this song at the end. The outro is supposed to sound like driving down a highway into the sunset, but the sunset is all shades of despair and mourning.
Al Matcott’s debut album, Summer’s Coming, is out now via Cheersquad Records & Tapes. Stream and purchase it here
Al Matcott Summer’s Coming Tour
- Friday, 10th November – Bird Rock, Wadawurrung/Torquay VIC
- Saturday, 11th November – The Golden Wattle, Kaurna Country/Adelaide SA
- Friday, 17th November – The Servo, Dharawal/Port Kembla NSW
- Saturday, 18th November – Vic on the Park, Gadigal Country/Sydney NSW
- Friday, 24th November – Tanswell Hotel, Yorta Yorta Country/Beechworth VIC
- Thursday, 30th November – Northcote Social Club, Wurundjeri Country/Melbourne VIC
- Friday, 1st December – Major Tom’s, Taungurung Country/Kyneton VIC
Tickets on sale now