There aren't a lot of things better than a show high. I've been an addict for twenty years now, and I don't see much hope for recovery. I have never been able to replace the rush of well-being that overwhelms me when an audience is rapt and in the palm of my hand. The only thing that tops it is doing that very thing ... with a friend by your side.
I had the pleasure of talking to Mat Jones of Pressed And this week, and, I have to say, his musical adventures with Andrew Hamlet sound like a freakin' romp. The show highs they must have...
Smile Politely: How did you meet?
Mat Jones: Andrew and I met at school in Chapel Hill, NC around 2009, I believe. We both played music and met through some mutual friends. We were both already doing solo projects (Matt — It is rain in my face.) and collaborative projects with other people (Andrew — ArnHao), and it was really exciting when we finally came to the conclusion: “Hey, why don't we just make some music together?!”
SP: Tada! How did Pressed And get its name?
Jones: We just made up the name. It doesn't mean anything...
SP: Hah! Have you played Champaign-Urbana before?
Jones: We've played Champaign-Urbana before, at Mike N Molly's (which happens to be exactly where we're playing on June 14). It's always a good time and they always put on a good show. The crowd there also seems genuinely excited to be at a show and are really engaged with what's happening musically.
SP: What are your other favorite places to play?
Jones: In general, we've found that the Midwest has some of the most welcome audiences. Really great electronic scene and acceptance of funky styles/genres/whatever that you usually don't find throughout the rest of the country. Everybody in the Midwest also seems just really laid-back and friendly and open.
SP: I think the secret to the Midwest's charm is the psychotic weather changes. It breeds flexibility and resilience.
Jones: Yeah, I think you're onto something!
SP: So, what kind of stuff do you play? What can your audience expect?
Jones: In the past, our records have been more electronic — lots of chopped up vocal samples and ambient sound and the like. However, we both started out as guitar players, and we've gradually come to realize that we really just enjoy playing instruments.
Our newest record, which is out June 4 on Mush Records, is a combination of electronic production similar to what we've done before, and live instrumentation that's more akin to blues, folk-rock, and Americana. There's also singing, which is cool.
SP: Where did this style of yours come from? What are some of your personal and musical inspirations?
Jones: I know I can speak for Andrew and myself when I say that Brian Eno is a big influence — not just with his music, but with the way he perceives the creative process and the function of music in contemporary society. Andrew's also into a lot of Krautrock and really likes this girl called Seven Fields of Aphelion. For me, I've been listening to a lot of Steely Dan, Habib Koite, Javelin, Ali Farka Toure, Randy Travis, and Wishbone Ash.
Andrew and I are also both into R&B and Motown stuff from the early '60s and '70s: The Impressions, Marvin Gaye, and everything else you might hear on your typical oldies station. Some friends of ours who are doing really cool stuff are Featureless Ghost, Cuddle Formation, Noah Wall, Majical Cloudz, Netherfriends, and Persona La Ave.
SP: I love Motown! It sounds like your tastes are very eclectic though...
Jones: For this tour, Andrew and I are bringing along some friends of ours to play drums and bass and stuff with us, so it'll end up sounding a lot closer to a rock band, but still with some electronic stuff going on.
SP: Having friends play with you must be fun! Any challenges that come from collaborating with them, or does being friends add to the experience? Or both...
Jones: Awesome! So far it's worked out pretty well. I feel like we're all comfortable enough with each other that there's no worries about stepping on one another's toes, you know? I think we all understand that whatever needs to happen with the music just needs to happen, so any criticism we might give one another is all just for the betterment of the songs. There's no reason to feel personally put down or whatever.
Everyone in the band lives pretty far away from one another, so I think it makes it more special and fun when we do get together.
SP: Sounds like a blast...
You can catch Pressed And at Mike N Molly's on June 14. Be sure to check out “Decision Made” off of Stone Candles, their newest release. I kind of love it and I think you might, too.