Oh, a big difference! So, my solo stuff is almost all original….I do a few covers like, let’s see, XTC, and…I can’t even remember what all. So it’s mostly originals, it will be ALL originals since it’s AS220. The Everett Brothers do one song that I’ve written and the rest is written by my brother Paul. He comes in with a total vocal arrangement and I try to figure out a backing for it that’s most effective. I’m a little more influenced by British Isles Folk like Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, that kind of jazz, whereas my brother has a myriad of influences and we end up sounding like a cross between Elvis Presley and Tony Bennett. There’s sort of a countrified rockin’ quality but there’s also a crooner sort of thing, I think, as a function of us getting older.
You’ve aluded to the fact that you’re a veteran of the local music scene, the AS220 scene, how did you get started down this path?
My first instrument was the mandolin and I just picked it up, strummed it open in a music store and thought “that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard”, so I bought it. A few years later I learned that there was a tradition of classical mandolin in Providence…people always say “Oh, you play mandolin! Bluegrass!” no…the answer is “No.”. So, I hooked up with Marilyn Mair and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra and received a moderate, but really crucial, amount of classical training, learned to read music and wasn’t really doing much with it…I had always intended to “rock out” in some fashion which was vague to me..and then I heard (old-school AS220 alum) Alec Redfearn’s band, the Amoebic Ensemble, which had been in existence for a short time at that point. They had a tape and I listened to it a couple times and then couldn’t listen to it anymore because I was so obsessed with it and so unhappy that I wasn’t involved in it. And then, Alec approached me and said “You play mandolin, don’t you?”. I didn’t realize at the time that this is his M.O. , his gift almost on par with his composing abilities is his ability to recruit. The Amoebic Ensemble was a real crucible experience and probably the most difficult band I’ve ever played in.
So, was that your channel into AS220?
AS220 was my channel into THAT. It was at AS220 that I saw the Amoebic Ensemble, it was at AS220 that I talked to Alec, it was at AS220 that I was recruited into that band.
You live here (at AS220) now, but you’ve lived here in the past.
I lived here in the late 90s, on the third floor of Empire Street. Back then, AS220 was not as sleek or as full-grown of an operation, that’s for sure. It did do that thing it’s supposed to do, though. I remember there were all these different artists and I would walk down the hall and hear all of these different sounds emanating and they would form a sort of beautiful cacophony together…the city sounds, and the artists’ sounds, and the musicians’ sounds, and peoples’ stereos and the DJs’ sounds, this dischordant cacophony that would somehow sync up and I remember that I would definitely feed on the energy of the place for a while. I was there for three years and two were really great and by third I was experiencing some burnout. It can be tiring…that was the hardcore experience, like having eleven roommates, basically. What I’m doing now is sissy stuff. I’m at the Dreyfus, I have my own bathroom, my own stove, my own FRIDGE? I don’t even know what to do with it all.
Somewhere in between, you moved to New York to go to grad school.
Yeah, I got this kooky idea to go to the New School and I got a Master’s in Creative Writing. I’ve had a few things published, some poems published in Barrow Street, for example, and some other publications. It’s all on my website, if you want to check it out (http://mattheweverett.wordpress.com/
) and you can find out about all the random bullshit that I’m up to.