Matt Pond PA

When manager Andy Kipnes talked about Matt Pond PA a couple of years ago, he saw a lot of blank stares. Matt Pond and his band had a small fan base; touring was sporadic. Kipnes’ recently signed client was a project, a tabula rasa.

“The first thing you try to do is get something to stick, somewhere,” the manager told Pollstar. “The first people to come to the table was college radio.”

The airplay grew a fan base. Meanwhile, Kipnes worked with Marty Diamond at Little Big Man Booking, who coordinated a touring strategy. Opening slots for Liz Phair, Guster, and Nickel Creek helped lead to the current headlining tour.

Another factor was a change in song presentation. With several full-lengths to his history, Pond was labeled “chamber pop” until Several Arrows Later’s recent release. Song tempos were quickened, and critics said Pond’s songwriting was finally fully realized. Matt Pond PA (the songwriter hails from Pennsylvania) was named one of Rolling Stones’ 10 artists to watch in 2006, alongside James Blunt and Wolf Parade.

“The O.C.” didn’t hurt, either. The Fox show is home to protagonist Seth Cohen, also known as the show’s Death Cab For Cutie activist. A Matt Pond PA song called “New Hampshire” was played on an episode and soon hipster kids were downloading all kinds of Pond songs.

Now Kipnes has no problem talking up Matt Pond PA to strangers, and the band’s namesake is happy, too.

“I’ll actually say we love our manager and, until I feel he’s stealing from me, I’m going to stand right beside him,” Pond said, joking. “At first his plan was to get as far away from me as possible. I think the plan now is to do things organically.

“He does not want us to do anything that would make us feel uncomfortable. He doesn’t want to mess with what we’re already doing. He just wants to hear it, and that’s amazing.”

A few years back, Pond wouldn’t know where his next gig was until a few days out. Now half of the shows are sold out prior to his arrival. He credits his new booking agent.

“I love the guy and I don’t think it’s weird to say. I’d say it to his face: ‘I love you, Marty Diamond,'” Pond said. “It’s so much more fun playing in front of people rather than playing in front of no people.

“This next tour, it’s well planned. Prior to this last year, we didn’t realize there could be a properly functioning system for booking a tour, going on tour and playing in front of people. And now it’s happening.”

Kipnes said there was another factor to the growing success.

Matt Pond PA

“The first thing is his resilience. Matt’s incredibly driven and hardworking. … I mean, the money we were getting paid early on was very low, and to be able to go out there and slug it out really helped a lot.

“I think putting a team around him was also beneficial. Aside from myself and [Advanced Alternative Media], there’s Kenny MacPherson and the people over at Chrysalis, and Marty Diamond, of course. It was connecting all the dots.”

Kipnes recently flew to the Pittsburgh show and was happy to report the live element has advanced dramatically. There’s a new bass player and a cello player, but that wasn’t the main difference.

“It’s not what he plays in the show,” the manager said. “Considering how strong the set is, it’s what’s left out – because there’s too much material.”

Matt Pond PA is growing virally and that means paying more attention to the Internet.

“What’s so funny is everybody has Webmasters or Webmistresses

I don’t know what you call the ladies who do that – but we like to answer everything ourselves,” Pond said. “It’s hard and I think it’s overwhelming, too, but I think if you’re going to provide an outlet where people are going to get in touch with you, you should make it as personal as you can, time permitting.”

Matt Pond PA, much like Bright Eyes and Dashboard Confessional, blurs the line between frontman and band. Pond is the constant, but Brian Pearl and Dan Crowell assist with the business duties.

Pond himself hopes the group does not graduate to a tour bus.

“I wouldn’t want one of these buses and not be able to go to the bathroom when I want to. It’s a weird life. I like traveling as long as I can drive, and as long as we don’t have to go that (bus) route, I would rather do that. … Have you been to Twin Falls, Idaho, where there’s the Snake River Gorge? That’s beautiful, and that’s something we couldn’t do on a bus.

“Playing the show is part of this, but if that’s all there is, then it’s not worth it. … Our motto is: ‘Have a good time, all the time.’ I stole that from ‘Spinal Tap.'”