Mat Kearney Bumps Adele from No.1, Turns Rejection Into Love Song
The modest music maker is still thrilled to hear his songs on the radio, too. “It definitely hasn’t grown old,” he says. “I still definitely turn it up when I hear myself on the radio.”
His current single, “Hey Mama,” is actually about meeting his wife Annie Sims — even though she wasn’t really having it when he first encountered her!
“We met at a clothing store called Anthropologie,” he reveals. “I was shopping for my sister-in-law and I was doing the whole, ‘Hey will you help me pick out the dress because I don’t know what I’m doing’ kind of thing — that was my pick up line — and she was not feeling it at all. She said ‘that dress is ugly and I know what you’re trying to do.'”
Despite striking out, Mat continued to pursue her, as he knew one of her friends. “The first attempt was rough and didn’t work,” he adds. “That was the beginning and she barely even remembers meeting me, but I figured I’d write about it. We got married last year, so we’re still newlyweds.”
Have you thought about making babies?
No, not yet. Albums are my babies now, and she has her thing going on. She does her modeling, which she is on a billboard in Time Square right now so that’s exciting. She hasn’t done much modeling, she just did this one thing and all of a sudden she’s everywhere.
You wrote “Hey Mama” about her, is there any one song on this album (Young Love) that is really personal to you?
“Hey Mama” I wrote about meeting my wife, so that is very specific — down to the color of boots she was wearing. “Ships in the Night” is a very candid song about two people trying to connect. I wrote it about my life; there are a few stories that have melded together there. The most intimate is the last one, “Rochester,” which I wrote about my father. My grandpa ran an illegal gambling ring in Rochester, New York. The mob came to town and had them arrested, so my father had to get out as fast as he could. He traveled and followed Pink Floyd, then moved to Hawaii and met my mother. So I wrote their story. Its been the wild story in our family so I figured I would put it in a song. It’s really emotional exercise for me.
Would you say your family and friends are your biggest inspirations for writing?
When I first wrote, I didn’t know how to do it any other way besides the stories that are around me. [For this album] I said, ‘I’m not going to write anything that’s outside of arms reach. I’m only writing about my friends.’ So, there’s a lot of personal stories about my life and friends.
Who are your musical crushes?
I’m really into Drake’s record, I love it. I love Paul Simon — I listened to him a lot when I made my record — and I listen to a lot of country music and Bruce Springsteen. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I found my album. We would start with these grooves and beats and work with them to find something that moved me, then pick out what I liked and write [lyrics]. I would try to tell a traditional story over a hip-hop thing. I’m trying to approach things at a different angle.
Young Love is available on iTunes now.