By Ashley Carr
Matthew Mayfield, a local Birmingham artist, has years of experience recording and playing shows all over the country. With a vibrant musical history — from rocking out to Guns & Roses at age 10, to singing around the house with his dad to The Beatles — his 2015 album, Wild Eyes, emits an organic, folky, singer/songwriter vibe. Guitars are limited and drum machines and synthesizers are plenty. The album was released that spring, and was partially recorded in Mason Music’s very own recording studio — so you could say we’re partial. Here is what we learned from our Matthew Mayfield interview back in 2015:
With Wild Eyes, Matthew hoped to capture a different feel. “It was something I’d never explored before, and it [felt] fresh and exciting for me. I can’t make the same record over and over.” He wanted to do the record justice by having Brad Lyons (Matthew’s friend, drummer and producer) and Clint Wells (their mutual friend and fellow musician) take the stage with him — to give the crowd a show, and to accomplish all of the things that the album encompasses sonically. In order to do that without spending a fortune on more band members, sound guys, etc., Brad put together backing tracks, or “the fourth member of the band.” This took over two months of preparation, followed by countless 12-hour rehearsals, only to return to the studio to alter the tracks where need be. While the crowd may not notice these subtleties, Matthew and Brad share a perfectionism that is admirable. It is very important to both of them to be well prepared for the performance. Brad says, “It’s a lot for people to go to shows. They bought tickets, hired a sitter, had to find parking, probably bought a ticket for someone else, and I’m not just representing me, but I’m representing Matthew. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Primarily a solo artist, Matthew decided to get the band back together for a tour up the east coast and through the midwest for that album release. Cities included Nashville, Des Moines, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Charlotte.
To prepare for any show, Matthew finds a place to be alone to do vocal warm-ups, followed by a spoken rehearsal with the band to help him relax. Even after playing thousands of shows, Brad still gets nervous. However, both lit up at the thought of playing for people. Brad said, “The second I hit the first note it’s all gone.”
Another big responsibility for artists is getting a pulse on where the audience is that night. It’s important to gauge both what is happening on and off stage in order to deliver exactly what the crowd needs. According to Matthew, “The bottom line is that you have to deliver a passionate and convicted performance every night. Whether there are five or 500 people there. You have to find a way to dig within yourself and give that audience everything you’ve got.”
For info about upcoming tour dates and to listen to Matthew’s music, visit matthewmayfield.com.