Moist / Matthew Good Band

MATTHEW GOOD BAND, LED BY ITS FIERY frontman and namesake, played God knows where to God knows who when it formed six years ago in Vancouver, B.C. Living in “anextreme state of poverty,” Matthew Good remembered, the rock band toured full bore, sacrificing sleep, relationships and health but never the music.

While the road school impacted MGB’s tightness as players and friends, what they endured crammed smelly-feet-to-smelly-feet in a van, sharing the driving duties after playing a gig and packing up their own gear told more about the foursome’s tenacity to make it with this band.

“I look back on it now and it’s very unconscious in my memory. I can’t depict details. Maybe not unlike child abuse, I’ve blocked it out,” Good said.

“I’ve tried to forget about waking up at the crotch ‘n’ roll band house in Thunder Bay, looking up at the ceiling where Art Bergmann had written, ‘You now have crabs,’ and sleeping in my clothes because it was just too gross to lie in that bed.”

Count this among the reasons that Good, drummer Ian Browne, guitarist/keyboardist Dave Genn and bassist Rich Priske don’t want to revisit the trenches in America. MGB’s latest album, Beautiful Midnight, has been released on Atlantic, but the band has only supported it with a two-week run in the Northeast.

The venues, some as large as 900 capacity, were sold out, proving that word has spread across the border about this incendiary live act with the irrepressible frontman. “Obviously, people know who we are,” Good allowed, “but I’m not going to go sit in a fuckin’ van for three months.”

While the label follows the explosive “Hello Time Bomb” with the lighter “Strange Days,” Good said he would gladly tour the U.S. if he could do so with the similar production values that his band has at home. Little Big Man is working on a tour for July, co-manager Steve Hoffman of Toronto-based S.R.O. Management reported.

“It’s too expensive to put me on the road and I’m not going to be making that kind of money,” Good said. “I can’t go anywhere without four crew members. I absolutely cannot do it. My live show just won’t work. It is entirely unreasonable with a band like mine to pare down to one amplifier and go on the road. It’s a gross misrepresentation.”

Matthew Good Band hasn’t played the game since the frontman split with his original manager, Frank Weipert, in the summer of 1998, and he and Genn, in particular, became “massively proactive” in every aspect of MGB’s career.

The turning point came when he wanted to make a video for “Apparitions” and went up against the resistance movement (his label) and did it anyway, Good said. The creepy vid helped push sales of 1997’s Underdogs toward double-platinum and made this skinny, unassuming singer the epitome of cool in the eyes of the young folk who flocked to his shows.

“It was then that I realized that these people don’t know anything more than me,” Good said.

Ian Browne
Matthew Good
Rich Priske
Dave Genn

Much to the frustration of some people at Universal Music Canada, Good often shoots his mouth off, particularly to the media about a range of topics from the ineptitude of major record executives to the homogenous sound of some of Canada’s biggest rock acts. He speaks his mind because, well, if anyone has ever earned the right to be cocky, it’s Good.

“I don’t think you have the right to give your opinion on certain subjects unless you had time to form them,” he reasoned. “I wouldn’t go and say half the shit I’ve said five years ago.”

The rock band with the edgy, unsettling lyrics and vocals was largely dismissed by A&R execs in the early days, until the belief of EMI Music Publishing Canada and perseverance of indie radio promoter Bobby Gale made radio hits of “Alabama Motel Room” and “Symbolistic White Walls” from 1995’s independent debut, Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts, which sold more than 20,000 copies.

After signing an ill-fated deal with U.S. label Private Music, Good used the advance money to fund his next album, Underdogs, which was licensed to A&M/Island/Motown Music Canada. In the middle of that album, MGB switched to S.R.O. Management, helmed by Ray Danniels and Hoffman, who guided the artist through the PolyGram/Universal merger to a full artist deal. Good said S.R.O.’s other move was taking MGB to new booking agencies, S.L. Feldman & Associates in Canada and Little Big Man in the U.S.

“That’s Ray’s forte. Ray’s an ass-kicker. That’s why he’s my manager,” Good said. “And at the core of Ray’s being is a decency concerning music. It’s not an easy thing to take an eclectic band like Rush and make them that big.”

With S.R.O. on board, plus the band’s intense rock songs, innovative videos and Good’s mighty mouth, MGB has become one of Canada’s biggest new draws. While the guys put the finishing touches on their next full-length album, The Audio Of Being, due in September, they will release a limited-edition EP, Loser Anthems, on June 5th in Canada only.

Jeff Craib, MGB’s agent and Good’s golfing buddy, has put together a Canadian tour for late June to mid July in a mix of arenas and outdoor venues.

“I’m going to try and call it The Hard Liquor And Handguns Revolution 2001,” Good said. On T-shirts, he’s just going to emblazon “I Survived The Revolution.”

“I’ll just get banned from Saskatchewan, which suits me fine,” he quipped.