Courtesy of Myriam Santos
Matt Nathanson will bring his evolved sound to the Newport Music Hall tonight at 6 p.m. on his “All Night Noise” tour.
Nathanson’s latest release and eighth album, “Modern Love,” debuted at No. 17 on Billboard’s album chart. The new record has a different sound for the singer/songwriter, who is best known for his Top 40 hit “Come on Get Higher” from the 2007 album “Some Mad Hope.”
Nathanson said he loves playing rock with a full band, but he also loves playing the acoustic, solo shows.
“That’s the thing that’s great about records is that I can make them any way I want, forever, depending on how I’m feeling,” Nathanson told The Lantern. “It’s a badass way if you’re completely self-absorbed. This record wanted to be big and loud and driven.”
Nathanson said his shows and music have changed since he first performed at the Newport Music Hall in 2003 with just an acoustic guitar and a cello player.
“They were fun then, but now they’re really good,” Nathanson said. “The evolution of the music has mirrored my evolution as a person. That’s what art does if you’re being honest, it directly reflects who you are.”
Nathanson said “Modern Love,” inspired by the feeling of music from bands like Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and Echo and the Bunnymen, was the most natural record he’s made.
“I’m a humongous nerd for music,” Nathanson said. “I’m a huge fan of records by other people. You sort of grow up studying everyone else’s music and then try and make your own version of it. For me the records just sound and function better, and get closer to sounding and working like records I loved as a kid.”
Nathanson is known for his personable stage presence and humorous stories between songs, but said he doesn’t believe in the music itself being funny.
“That’s what is so great about being able to play live,” Nathanson said. “I can make jokes and play these f—ing songs that are like, from my heart, wrenched out of my soul and then we can bust into a White Snake cover.”
The songs on “Modern Love” deal with the struggles of relationships in a modern world, Nathanson wrote on his blog,
“Everyone I know was going through personal relationship crisis,” he wrote on his blog. “Divorce, affairs, being alone, being newly in love.”
Nathanson explained that the hard times others were going through ended up affecting him.
“At first I thought all the songs on ‘Modern Love’ were about other people, their relationships, but then I realized they were inspired by other people but came through me,” Nathanson said.
“Kiss Quick” was the hardest song for Nathanson to write because it kept evolving and changing, but ended up being the song that defined the album as a whole. The most personal song on the album for Nathanson, “Drop to Hold You,” came the easiest.
“Sometimes you fight with certain songs to get them to do what you want, but the ones that feel like they’re the most personal will just show up,” Nathanson said.
Keeping with the theme of love and music in a modern world, Nathanson said he struggled with the age of social media.
“In order to play music, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do, I feel like there’s become this crucial component that has to do with being on television or having your personality shown through Facebook or Twitter or blog,” Nathanson said. “The only reason I do things like that is because it allows me to play music to more people. I really am kind of old school in that way that I just want to play f—ing music and write songs and do things within that sphere.”
OSU alumnus Marko Begovic has listened to Nathanson’s music since 2003.
“When I first heard the new album, I was shocked,” Begovic said. “It doesn’t sound like his past albums, but I liked it right off the bat. You can see the evolution of him over all these songs.”
Nathanson compared his shows to “hanging out with someone at a party.” That is one reason Begovic is traveling from Cleveland for Tuesday’s show.
“The whole show is entertaining. That’s the best part,” Begovic said. “The songs are great, he rocks out hard, and then in between the songs he’s just as entertaining. He tells stories, his banter is a lot of fun.”
Katherine Rettew, a fourth-year in English, said she also loves his interaction with the audience.
“He’s there to have a great time and have fun with his audience,” Rettew said. “It’s fun and upbeat.”
Nathanson said the future of his sound belongs to the songs.
“There will be more rocking records to come, and then I’d love to make a very quiet acoustic record,” Nathanson said. “I don’t know what the next one will want to be. It’s fun though. The best part is sort of waiting to see what the songs want.”