Singer-songwriter Matthew J Tow and his band, Australia’s The Lovetones have a new album 'Myriad', and it’s one truly from the heart. It is filled with poignant lyrical reflections and fine organic melodies, capturing a terrific band well into their career. With a sombre start and the sound of a pipe organ, 'The Circle Turns' opens the album. “You and I are lost inside a prism of deepest colors bleeding into one,” Tow sings, “A myriad of beauty and despair.” His vocal is warm and welcoming, the music mellifluous. The lyrics speak to “a child that is born into this heart of mine.” The opener rings true; the album meaningful and resonant.

I spoke with Matthew; first about his musical early days. Prior to the Lovetones, he was playing in his, also Australian band, Drop City. It was at this time Matthew met Anton Newcombe, auteur of the Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM).

About BJM, Matthew reflects, “I was obsessed with all things 60s, but also with groups like Spacemen 3, and this sounded like a band I wanted to get to know.”

It was in Los Angeles where Matthew and Anton were introduced by a mutual friend.

“Drop City and BJM were sort of doing that indie 90’s, 60’s revival thing at the time. It wasn’t too much longer before we were at the BJM Silver Lake House being introduced to them. I felt an immediate connection with Anton and he made us all feel welcome. Anton would be up all night with us playing me new songs, and he recorded and produced some Drop City demos at the house whilst we were there too.”

It wasn’t very long before Matthew and Anton developed a close musical relationship. Drop City had ended and the Lovetones had begun. Anton was a real fan of what the Lovetones were doing and their new record 'Be What You Want'. Matthew soon became rhythm guitarist on a couple of United States tours with the BJM, and that band recorded his great composition 'Starcleaner'. Matthew also specifically wrote 'A New Low Getting High' for BJM.

About Anton, Matthew gratefully expresses: “Loyalty in the music business is a rare thing. He helped and encouraged me so much with my music and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

With the second track on the new album 'Myriad', 'About the Girl', we hear the album’s distinctive hit. It is first rate songwriting with a great feel: “The dawn light breaks into my room and my thoughts they turn to you/Promises we made.” “It’s all right, everything’s okay” is the refrain. There are lyrics about catching a shooting star as well.

On 'The Milkman of Human Kindness', Tow sings “If you are lonely, I will call,” with a very John Lennon like vocal. It is that kind of love, that kind of edge, Lennon style. “If your bed is wet, I will dry your tears”- an excellent number.

Talking to Matthew, we travel back to the Lovetones' great 'Dimensions' album, quite a career epiphany, where Tow was dealing with the huge loss of his mother passing. The second track on 'Dimensions' is the brilliant 'Journeyman', one of my all time favorite songs. My own mother had just passed this year and Matthew offered me kind comforting words and it really helped.

About 'Dimensions' he said, “It is a reflection of the loss I was going through and the raw emotions that I was dealing with.” “To this day the album still resonates with me and I guess it always will, as it was a defining point in my life. I still get a sense of that time every time I listen back. Sometimes it’s a painful listen and other times it reminds me of how lucky I was to have such an incredible mother in my life. Many people have told me it’s their favourite record, and I guess I’m really quite humbled and blessed that it has helped in some small way so many get through the healing process after similar experiences. For me 'Dimensions' is a sacred document. It is the album for me that is the most evocative and I treasure it the most because of the way it came to fruition and the circumstances surrounding the making of it, giving it an almost mystical and otherworldly quality that is still hard for me to define.”

'Walk Away' from the new album is another Lennon like vocal, and first rate. “You got to be true to yourself/If you ain’t true to yourself, you never be true to no one else.” The lyric rings like gospel. It is the Lovetones once again capturing the greatness of their talent, subtly but certainly.

The closer on 'Myriad', 'I’ll Never Be That Guy' speaks to me of the importance of living up to one’s art. “Going to put my faith in it/Going to give my heart to it.” 'Myriad' once again witnesses Matthew J Tow and the Lovetones living up to their gift, their art, and thus like their best work, this one again feels sacred.
Finally, I asked Matthew how he felt about the new album and why the Lovetones had reunited/come back from hiatus at this time. He gave the following heartfelt, thoughtful, deep answer that I thought should be published in full:

"After releasing 'The Way of Things' and 'Shadow's Reign' I decided to take a bit of an extended hiatus with music. I knew deep down those records were good. I was really proud of them and I think they both have some really great songs on them, but I didn't seem to be able to make any inroads with them in the US in terms of sales or interest. I don't think people found them very accessible or something. I couldn't work it out really. My intention was to move away from the Lovetones sound a bit on those ones and do something a bit more darker, less psyche and less derivative of what I had been doing in the past. I wanted to make a couple of really serious records and test my own songwriting abilities and experiment with complex chord structures. Really stretch myself creatively. At the end of the day though I think everyone expected something else from me really, so I was pretty down about the whole thing for a while."

"The records came and went without much fuss and I turned off the whole idea of making music or playing live. I guess I was burnt out by the whole thing. I had been writing and performing for almost thirty years and found myself just hating playing music or listening to music. It was weird, but everything I heard just sounded the same. There was no joy in it anymore. It was all just background noise and I felt done with it. Around that time my father passed away and I also became a father myself for the first time. We decided to have a child late in the game and I put the music to one side and devoted my time solely to bringing up my son and getting a job. Having a kid changes you. Anyone who's done it knows what I'm talking about. The time and energy you need to put in, doesn't leave much left in the tank for other things. And the end of each day you are physically and emotionally spent, and music was the last thing I was thinking about."

"Fast forward to the end of 2016 and I was beginning to feel like something was really missing in my day to day. I had been out of for about three years and I started to pick up the guitar again every now and then and just muck around. I soon started to write again, but this time there was no pressure to keep it all going with touring and it didn't feel like a drag like it had in the previous years leading up to the break. I'd been keeping in touch with Chris Cobb and decided to start recording a couple of the ones I had come up with. I didn't know at first if it was going to be Lovetones or another solo record, but quickly realized that the songs definitely fitted into the Lovetones mould. That's how it all started again. With no real intention of making it a 'thing' again. No real plans, just start making music and see what happens."

"The story of the making of the new album 'Myriad' could be a novella in itself. I spent three years making it with me going into the studio when I could afford to do another session once every couple of weeks and plugging away at it. I worked closely with Tim Kevin on this one. I had known Tim for a long time but had never worked with him. He has a small studio in Marrickville in inner west Sydney and it felt like the right place in the right time for me to work in. It was just down the road from where I live and it was easy to come and go whenever I could get the time and the cash to do it. We didn't rush it and just whenever an idea came we put it down."

"The years making that record though were some of the roughest I have ever had. I suffered a nervous breakdown and was treated for depression and anxiety and I didn't think I would get through it at all. I'm surprised I ever finished it. Three years is a long time to make a record and this seemed like the never ending road that would truly never end. My mental state was shot, I was full of doubts and I often thought what I was doing was useless. Through sheer force of will I guess, I finished it for better or worse and now that I step back from it and take a view from outside the bubble, I can say I'm really proud of it. The title 'Myriad' reflects the state of mind I was in I guess. So many possibilities. So many decisions in life, so many consequences and different paths to take. Ironically most of them being arbitrary and capricious and at that point my whole world had become volatile and erratic."

"In the end the album was a crucible so to speak. I subconsciously threw everything I had at it. Ultimately helping me to understand myself in new ways I hadn't expected. Therapy in a way. The joy of discovery had returned and the spark had been reignited."

"Music is strange like that. It can do things to you that can't be explained by logic and reason plays no part in its magic that it holds over you. When I had finished it I realized that for the first time in a long time I felt just like I did all those years ago when I had first started discovering and playing music. I found that music had saved my life again..."


The Lovetones 'Myriad' will be released on Cleopatra Records in early 2020.











Related Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lovetones
https://www.facebook.com/thelovetones/


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