“I’m dying,” were the first words Matt Johnson could manage to spit out. But after he recovered from nearly choking on a sip of water, Johnson, of the Brooklyn-based keyboard-and-drums music duet Matt & Kim, chatted about tinkling pianos, De La Soul and why a Matt & Kim party never stops.
The two-piece dance-rock outfit releases its new album, “Sidewalks,” Nov. 6 and will play the entire album at all of its shows, including a performance in Philadelphia at the Starlight Ballroom Sunday, Oct. 24.
The Temple News: How are you doing? Other than the choking and dying, of course.
Matt Johnson: I’ve had this sort of perpetual sickness that I just cannot shake, but that’s one thing that comes with, well, essentially, being on tour is like going out every single night for weeks and months at a time, so it can wear on you after a while.
TTN: Do you and Kim have a show tonight?
MJ: Yep, New Orleans, and then last we were in Oxford, Miss. We’ve been using a bus recently, so we sleep most of the day on the road. We’ve definitely had our share of traveling around in a van, but it’s a welcome upgrade to the bus.
TTN: The upcoming album seems a lot different from Matt & Kim’s 2009 album “Grand.” Did you and Kim listen to anything specific while writing songs for “Sidewalks”?
MJ: We listen to a pretty broad range of music all the time. Most of it is sort of Top 40 hip-hop stuff, and I came up listening to punk, and now Kim and I have sort of settled on a lot of pop-punk music. A lot of indie bands today get their inspiration from other indie bands, so they end up sounding like each other, [but] Kim and I never set out to make a song that sounds like something else or a specific genre. Sometimes Kim’s beats will end up sounding straight out of hip-hop, like the beats on [“Grand” songs] “Daylight” and “Good ‘Ol Fashione Nightmare.” But then on that same album, on songs like “I Wanna,” our pop-punk side comes out. So in all, it ends up coming out like a mosaic.
TTN: The contrast between Kim’s heavy drumbeats and your almost tinkling piano is an interesting part of your music. Was that intentional?
MJ: Yeah, it’s sort of almost a ragtime piano. I think the contrast like that makes it exciting. Another example of that is on “Lessons Learned,” we have Kim singing sweetly over some reverb, but underneath that is the Motörhead beat. We like to find that balance of having that major chord progression sound of a pop song but still have it be really padded.
TTN: Can you describe what it’s like at a Matt & Kim show to someone who has never been to one?
MJ: It’s a total party. We’ve been able to attain a reputation that our shows are not the type to stand around and look at your shoes. I mean, that’s cool if that’s how you have fun, but then also if you want to dance and jump around and crowd surf, Kim and I are the right people to go to.
Kevin Stairiker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.