Hailing from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan Jacobs has been steadily releasing music throughout this past year. Self-described as “a little blues, a little rock, a little country”, Matthew’s music incorporates a slew of different genres and influences to create a sound that is uniquely his. He recently released his new single “The River”, so we had a chat to learn more about the song, his influences, and what kind of superhero he’d be.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “The River”.
Matthew Ryan Jacobs: The River was once again recorded with my producer Ben Kempel, he works out of an old church from the 1800’s that was converted into his home studio. I don’t actually remember writing the main guitar part, but I found it in my phone’s voice memos titled “FINISH THIS”. So I guess I thought it was good when I came up with it. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to play it again since it’s tuned to open E flat for some reason, maybe I should have put that in the title…but after that the rest of the song came pretty quick. I don’t often talk about what songs are about, because some people will have a connection to the lyrics that may be completely different meaning than what I meant them to be. And I don’t want to ruin that for them.
FTS: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up, and how do they differ from your current ones?
Matthew Ryan Jacobs: My biggest influences growing up were mostly Seattle bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. I was also really influenced by a lot of 90’s Canadian Rock and Much Music. They played as much Treble Charger, Kill Joys, Hayden, I Mother Earth, as they did Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots. It was a big mix of these bands that really got me wanting to pick up the guitar and write music.
I’ve always had a pretty diverse musical taste though, and I’ve seemed to work my way back through Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and the Stones; back to Muddy Waters , Buddy Guy, and then to Robert Johnson and Son House. So my current tastes are a mix of all of it, but definitely lean more to artists like Nathaniel Rateliff and Jason Isbell these days.
FTS: What’s one album you can’t get enough of right now?
Matthew Ryan Jacobs:
– The Future, Nathaniel Rateliff
– I Don’t Live Here Anymore, The War on Drugs
– The Folk Singer, Muddy Waters
I couldn’t pick just one, those 3 are currently on repeat.
FTS: All writers (save for the exceptionally lucky ones) experience writer’s block from time to time. How do you battle through a block when songwriting?
Matthew Ryan Jacobs: I don’t really struggle with writer’s block, I tend to just let things happen naturally. I find if you force something, it doesn’t turn out as good. So if things aren’t coming to me easily I work on something else. For example if I’m struggling with lyrics, I’ll just play guitar or work on a lead part. If I’m struggling with a song as a whole, I’ll pull up a different demo or go through my voice memos until something excites me. I’m lucky that the inspiration always comes back or finds me, so I just let it happen when it wants to happen.
FTS: If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
Matthew Ryan Jacobs: I know a lot of people say invisibility or ability to fly or something, but I would go either to ability to eat as much of, and whatever you want with zero negative effects to your health or weight. Or, the ability to drink with never getting a hangover. Those are superpowers.
Check out the latest single from Matthew Ryan Jacobs, “The River”.