MAGNET Exclusive: The Story Behind Nada Surf’s “So Much Love”

Cautious optimism would appear to be the operative theme on Never Not Together (Barsuk), Nada Surf’s eighth proper studio album, due out February 7. You have to think that outlook was at least partially informed by frontman Matthew Caws’ recent run-in with domestic bliss.

“I didn’t have that feeling in mind, but I think that’s right,” says Caws, who married in 2016 and is now the father of a young son. “These are very distressing times, so if you would’ve said there was a little whining on this album, I wouldn’t have been shocked. But I’ve had a lot of motivation in my personal life to tackle anxiety. I’m 52, so right now I’m in the meat of the matter. I have to find peace and order where I can. I’m a dreamer, so it’s been a lifelong two-steps-forward-one-step-back process.”

Caws seems to have found what he’s looking for on Never Not Together’s lead-off track, “So Much Love,” written as part of a South By Southwest industry panel headed by Hits magazine’s Karen Glauber. “So much love, it must be real,” sings Caws, enveloped by the tune’s soaring chorus. “How much love?/I can’t say/Just know that I need to get out of its way.”

“Karen asked me to write a song with that title because that’s how I sign off on most emails,” Caws says. “My first reaction was no, because we already have ‘Always Love’ and ‘Inside Of Love.’ But then I thought I’d just give it a shot. It came really quickly from this feeling of gratitude and knowing how much there is out there to be comforted by.”

Never Not Together was recorded by Nada Surf soundman and tour manager Ian Laughton at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales, with the lush keyboards of longtime friend and collaborator Louie Lino figuring prominently into its sound. “We did our practicing in Cambridge (Caws’ adopted hometown) and drove there,” says Caws. “When you cross into Wales, it’s immediately like Lord Of The Rings. Everything is a richer green. There are sheep everywhere—and you can hear them. In the old carriage house where we were, the list of records made there is really insane. Some of them mean a lot to me—like the first three Echo & The Bunnymen albums and the Flamin’ Groovies’ Shake Some Action. There was something about where we were that made us reach a little bit further.” 

And while much of Never Not Together may be about Caws expressing some semblance of optimism for our vastly polarized, upended republic, he has little empathy for extremists. “Civility has its own dangers—you can’t be too civil,” he says. “You have to call out what needs to be called out, despite it being uncomfortable. But there’s so much goodwill—so much desire to have things work out. Some of us are just coming at it from different perspectives. Eventually, we’ll all need each other.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Dave Simonett’s “Revoked”

Due out March 13, Red Tail (Thirty Tigers) is coming from a much different place than 2017’s Furnace. That’s because Dave Simonett is in a much different place these days. “I would hope so after three years,” says the Trampled By Turtles frontman with a chuckle. “I went through that whole cycle of writing these really plain-spoken, personal songs, and it was kind of exhausting, to be honest with you.”

And those three years went by fairly quickly, thanks to 2018 Trampled By Turtles release Life Is Good On The Open Road and the prog-bluegrass outfit’s heavy touring schedule. “I feel great right now—life is good,” Simonett says from a TBT tour stop in Pittsburgh. “The work with Trampled is really fulfilling, and I’ve been writing a lot. Red Tail has been done for eight or nine months. It’s just been a matter of finding the right time to put it out so I could do some shows behind it.”

It’s fitting that the Minneapolis artist chose to ditch his Dead Man Winter moniker for the first time with Red Tail. Its predecessor strived for catharsis by sifting through the debris of a failed marriage, so you can hardly blame Simonett for wanting to distance himself from such harrowingly personal stuff. Red Tail is a casual, convivial collection that suggests a more stable state of internal affairs and a brighter outlook on life in general. “Lots of things have changed for me, but a lot has stayed the same,” he says. “I know that’s ambiguous.”

Even more ambiguous is Simonett’s explanation of “Revoked,” Red Tail’s haunting leadoff track. “I had this vision of making it as much about the instrumental part as the lyrics,” he says. “For this album, I had these bits and piece of songs, but instead of trying to write more words, verses or a bridge, I tried it with instruments.” 

And the origins of a line like “The child of dawn and the paper wings are feeling fine now”? “Oh, I don’t know,” says Simonett. “It’s really just working with language a bit. I don’t mean to say that it’s about nothing, because that sounds kind of sad. But it’s more of a subconscious approach.”

—Hobart Rowland

Tour Dates
3/19 – Grand Rapids, MN, Reif Performing Arts Center
3/26 – Chicago, City Winery
3/27 – Cincinnati, Taft Theatre
3/28 – Nashville, City Winery
3/29 – Atlanta, City Winery
3/30 – Asheville, NC, Grey Eagle
4/1 – Washington, DC, City Winery
4/2 – Philadelphia, City Winery
4/4 – Providence, Upstairs At The Columbus Theatre
4/5 – Boston, City Winery
4/17 – Denver, Bluebird Theater
4/18 – Boulder, Bluebird Music Festival
4/19 – Fort Collins, Fort Collins Armory
5/9 – St. Paul, Fitzgerald Theater

MAGNET Exclusive: Matt Pond PA’s “Closer (Demo)”

Matt Pond PA is dead. Long live Collected Lakes! But in the meantime, Matt Pond PA (the band) is clearing out its old hard drives and planning to release one posthumous album a year for the near future. Matt Pond (the man) explains.

My streetwalking how-do-you-do is a series of choreographed spasms that culminate in a curvature of lips and teeth akin to a frightened cartoon fox. My bravery at the post office often feels profound. 

Our modern existence might be a little askew—and these electronic proclamations may not be all that profound—but still, I insist on shouting from the top of this dirty snow bank. I have to believe my modest broadcasts matter more than the undone dishes or the bills building a fortress around the front door.

I mostly speak through music because I don’t totally know how to rely on human contact. For me, trusting people is terrifying. Yet, I like human beings. I do. I like their unedited faces, their messed-up thoughts and hair. I like their ability to survive themselves. That is the most important application in myself: a setting of survival. I like sitting across the table from you. Even when you have spinach in your teeth, and my laughter resembles a wild boar snuffling in your garden. 

And love. Love is an amazing supernatural muscle. (Cue Spectral Display’s “It Takes A Muscle.”)

We’ve uncovered overgrown mountains of Matt Pond PA songs. Hence, we’re going to release an album every year until all the past lyrical ranges have been revealed. Here is a free one: “Closer (Demo)” from A Collection of Bees Part 1, out in February. (All the way back to when Mike Kennedy slapped the mattress as a kick drum, tapped a piece of paper with a pencil eraser for the snare. The reverberations led to words, that led to guitars, which turned a studio bedroom shuffle into a proper song.)

Chris Hansen and I were chosen to score two films in the upcoming three-program screening series Other Histories: Amateur Films On The National Film Registry. The series, which is curated by the Center For Home Movies, premieres on the weekend of January 10-12, 2020, at the Roy And Niuta Titus Theater as part of MoMA’s landmark Private Lives Public Spaces exhibition of amateur films and home movies from their collection.  

In the future—and as it has previously been proclaimed—we shall be called Collected Lakes. It’s a shout-out to the collaborative efforts in all our musical undertakings. The part I love about your note, resting right on top of my note. 

These trajectories have many arcs. There are so many different ways to see ourselves; there are so many different ways to be seen. The simple truth is that I’m sitting in a winter coat next to my canine rescue empress, mouthing these words as I type, hoping to get through a maze of algorithms to somehow make sense to you.

Can anyone believe how strange it is to be anything at all? 

((((Happy Holidays!))) 

End proclamation

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Marshall Crenshaw’s “Twenty-Five Forty-One”

Marshall Crenshaw has regained ownership of the five albums he issued on Razor & Tie Records. So the longtime MAGNET fave will release revised editions of the LPs—1996’s Miracle Of Science, 1999’s #447 and 2003’s What’s In The Bag?, plus 1994’s live My Truck Is My Home and 1998 collection The 9 Volt Years—on vinyl as well as all digital platforms via his Shiny-Tone label (distributed by Megaforce).

Crenshaw kicks things off January 17 with an overhauled Miracle Of Science, which features bonus tracks such as covers of Daniel Wylie’s “Misty Dreamer” and Michel Pagliaro’s “What The Hell I Got.” Aside from them, Crenshaw not only had changes made to the Grammy-nominated artwork, but he tinkered with a few of the songs themselves. “New” track “Rouh Na Selim Neves” is actually the LP’s “Seven Miles An Hour” backward.

Of the album’s handful of covers, the highlight has always been Crenshaw’s take on “Twenty-Five Forty-One.” The original song is off Intolerance, the debut solo album from Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart. It’s hard to believe Hart’s version came out 30 years ago yesterday.

“’Twenty-Five Forty-One’ is one of my all-time favorite rock tracks, by anybody, not just me,” says Crenshaw. “It’s a classic song by the great Grant Hart, and the Nashville guys and I just blow it up real good. A beautiful explosion. I heard the Robert Forster cover version first and learned the backstory of the song later on. I know that it was personal for Grant, but it’s pretty relatable.”

We’re proud to premiere Crenshaw’s version of “Twenty-Five Forty-One” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Daniel Martin Moore’s “Lay A Wreath” Video

On October 4, Daniel Martin Moore will release ninth album Never Look Away (SofaBurn). In the past, the Kentucky singer/songwriter has collaborated with the like of Jim James, Ben Sollee, Joan Shelley and others. On Never Look Away, Moore’s main partner in crime is producer/multi-instrumentalist Seth Kauffman (Floating Action), with whom basic tracks were recorded in North Carolina before Moore took them back home with him to flesh them out and finish them with a little help from his friends.

This collaborative spirit is definitely apparent on side-one closer “Lay A Wreath,” whose video we’re proud to premiere today on magnetmagazine.com. Says Moore, “This song and video are a broad-ranging collaboration between many artists I admire. Seth co-produced and played drums and bass. Scott Moore and Charlie Patton played the strings that soar and soar. And musician/artist Jeremy Ylvisaker—and his children, Max and Jonny—made this memory-like video.  I hope y’all enjoy what we’ve done.”

We hope y’all do, too. Check out “Lay A Wreath” now, and if you find yourself in the Bluegrass State next month, check out Moore on one of his handful of dates there.