Nobody likes to have their heart broken into a million pieces, have someone you love break up with you or have your world turned upside down after a breakup. Although heartbreak has also transformed into some of the best songs ever written – just ask Adele how her career is working for her. That’s what singer/songwriter Matthew Mayfield is hoping for on his latest very personal new album, “RECOIL.”
Mayfield’s latest effort is a smoldering and emotionally exposing view on love, loss, and our existence in life. His devoted fan base seems to believe in this record, as it climbed to number four on the singer/songwriter charts on iTunes, as well as over 100,000 streams on Spotify.
This handsome and laid back singer from Alabama has also caught the attention of Hollywood, as his Americana music have been featured on several hit T.V. shows like Grey's Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, and Nashville.
While nursing some wounds from a recent car accident, AXS caught up with Mayfield via Skype from his Alabama home. The candid and very friendly Mayfield opened up about how he poured all his emotions into his new record, the attitude of rock and roll, and his loyalty to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
AXS: You have a lot of different elements in all your songs. For those that may not know, describe your sound and how you perceive your music.
Matthew Mayfield: (Big pause) Well, you kind of have to describe it as a musical bipolar disorder (laughs). I tend to go one way or the other. I'm kind of a hybrid of both rock and folksy rock. If it's just me and a guitar, then it's folk rock, but if it's a band and me, it's more rock-n-roll.
AXS: For many of your songs, you have a real epic quality to your lyrics and rhythms, especially with your achy voice. Is that intentional on your part or does that just happen organically?
MM: Yea, it just happens organically, especially on this record, the new one "RECOIL." Before writing this album, it was the first time I had writer's block, the first time in over 12 years of songwriting. But, I was going through a really rough patch with a breakup situation. I picked up a guitar, and it felt like a brick. Then once the songs started spilling out, they just started to come tenfold. I wrote the whole record in three or 4 weeks…alone, which that never happens. This record took two to three months max from writing to recording; it was really cathartic. It really helped me get to where I needed to get, just screaming into a microphone.
AXS: You deal with some deep emotions on this new album "RECOIL" Why was it important for you to tackle some of these issues?
MM: This is a deeply personal record. I made an album in 2012 called "A Banquet for Ghosts," which is a fan favorite. It's one of those records that's super special, so many people got into that record. I think this record is very similar in a way; it seems to trump the last record simply because I’m a better writer now. There are songs on this album that are darker, a little more terrifying; it even scared the shit out of me. But, they're honest.
AXS: What was your path to becoming a singer?
MM: I started playing guitar at a really young age, about nine years old. I busted some bones in my leg playing football. I grew up in Alabama, so football is religion down here (laughs). I learned a lot about myself, and as a kid just listening to other bands. I'd listen to Slash, who was a huge influence, Joe Perry, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix. Those guys were my heroes. Growing up I wanted to be the greatest guitar playing in the world. I realized I couldn't just be Johnny Guitar; you gotta put your own stamp on it. That's when I started writing songs and started singing.
AXS: Tell me about a quote I read on your website, “rock-n-roll isn’t a sound, it’s an attitude.”
MM: Rock and roll music is mysterious and dangerous. Johnny Cash was not really rock-n-roll with his music, but he was one of the most rock-n-roll guys with his attitude towards music. Same, with Lemmy from Motorhead, I learned a lot from him. Same thing with Guns N' Roses, Nirvana. For me, it’s not about the sound, it’s about the attitude, and you’re never going to cater to someone else’s version of me. I am always going to be me, so either you take that or leave it.
AXS: Being from Alabama, are you Auburn or Bama fan?
MM: Well, (laughs) I'm supposed to be an Auburn fan, because both my parents graduated from there. But, we kind of got raised in one of those houses that aren't divided. I know that sounds silly, but in Alabama, you're either raised an Auburn or Alabama fan, I was just lucky that my parents who respected my opinions. I like watching the team that is more entertaining and over the last three to four years; Bama has been the better team, and they look unbeatable again this year. I might be speaking ahead of time, (Nick) Saban will get his six title this year.
Well, Mayfield and the Alabama Crimson Tide will have to wait until next season to see if they can get coach Nick Saban another title.
Take a listen to Matthew Mayfield's new album "RECOIL" which is out now. Mayfield will be hitting the road in the states in January and then a swing through Europe in the Spring. Check out his website for upcoming dates.