Spoken Frontman Matt Baird Talks New Album ‘Illusion’, Working With Jasen Rauch + More
Vocalist Matt Baird has been making music for well over 17 years and his band Spoken started 2013 off in a big way with the release of their latest record ‘Illusion.’ In support of the album the Arkansas rock outfit toured the states with Volbeat earlier in the year.
During their tour stop in New York City, Loudwire chatted with Baird to talk about various songs and themes within the new album. He also expressed his admiration for producer, and former RED guitarist Jasen Rauch, as well as his necessary item he must have on the road with him for any messy situation.
‘Illusion’ has many different aspects do it both aggressive and melodic; for you, what would you say is more challenging to sing live?
I would say melodic ones. With the heavy ones, the screaming is the easy part – most people think it’s opposite, but the stuff where it’s high register singing and making it clean, that’s the harder stuff especially after being out on tour and playing every day for about five weeks. The more melodic ones are the more difficult ones.
Is it difficult for you to transition from the pummeling tracks to slower tunes live?
I think we transition pretty well. We’re cramming seven songs into our 30 minute set and our whole goal is to play as many songs as possible, to play them the best we can and to let the people who are in that room, listening to us – let them know how thankful we are because they could have easily shown up after the opener. No one on this tour knows who we are but it’s been amazing, at this point. The most who know who we were in one night was like eight people. It’s been really cool because we are being marketed like a new band to these people they have no clue and they don’t care until we’re able to play some songs and try to prove ourselves to them. The Volbeat fans have been awesome.
It’s crazy because you guys have been around for quite some time.
It’s been 17 years and it was really weird because it’s like, “Can you believe it’s been that long?” I mean a lot of life happens each year, yet alone 17, and it’s really crazy to think about.
What would you say is one of your favorite tracks off the new record and why?
I’ve got to say ‘Calm the Storm.’ It’s the most melodic, ballad type song, it was one of the very last ones we recorded and it was just down to the wire and the bridge of that song gets me. I think any person, any walk of life at any age – all they want to know is that the person or if it’s a God situation, they want to know that they are never going to be let go of, someone is always going to be there. The lyrics, man it spoke to me probably more than anybody who listens but something about that song, it was a good ending to the writing process of the record.
I have a soft spot for ‘Shadow Over Me’ …
Is it because the chorus reminds you of Billy Talent, you didn’t even make that connection yet did you?
No that connection didn’t even cross my mind, but how did you know I love Billy Talent?
When writing that cadence of the chorus for ‘Shadow Over Me,’ I had Billy Talent in mind like, “What would they do?” It might be a little more aggressive than what they would normally do but they were in my mind when writing that chorus ‘Devil in a Midnight Mass’ that’s what pops out to me. The cadence of all of there stuff and how rhythmic it is. I really like that band, now when you listen to ‘Shadow Over Me’ you’re going to go, “They’re totally ripping off Billy Talent.”
How was it working with Jasen Rauch, who produced this record?
We literally just sat in our hotel room with Jasen with an acoustic guitar and just fiddled around with the first song idea of ‘Illusion’ and that was two and a half years ago when we did that. Jasen’s become one of our best friends, he’s an amazing producer. I can’t wait to start another record and have him at the helm – he was like a band member in so many ways and I say that in every interview because it’s true. I’ve asked him, “Dude, just join Spoken,” because he was such a vital part in what ‘Illusion’ is and where Spoken is right now. I don’t think we would have this tour opportunity if Jasen wasn’t involved, I don’t think we would be on eOne Music if it was for him – it’s just all these things. I don’t want to downplay his involvement; it was truly great working with him.
He’s straight up a musician, he’s a producer, he’s one of those people where he’s already got the song figured out and written in his head the moment you show him an idea. He won’t let you know that but you can see the wheels turning of where he would go with it. He let’s us fumble around and figure out what it might be. Let me put it this way Jasen Rauch can sit down in an evening and write ten choruses that would go on a record; he let’s a band find their way and that’s what’s so cool about it.
I read in another interview that ‘Illusion’ refers to how we react to others when the bubble bursts, for you personally when s— hits the fan and the bubble bursts do you confront the person head on or do you walk away like a peaceful warrior?
Basically if you look at it realistically I’d go and write a song about it but I try not to react immediately. When someone wrongs me, sure the initial reaction if I was being honest would just be to choke them out. So often the things that upset me the most are when I see how other people are treated by someone. I believe that there is a lack of tact in this world, people let their arrogance get the best of them with their words.
If you see a person having a conversation and you hear the words coming out of their mouth that are hurtful and spiteful to another person, that’s normally what I would want to write a song about or jot something down. With me I try not to react immediately because I would probably react poorly – I guess in some ways I shut down for a moment and reboot because I could probably be that person who can say some awful things – I literally have to just breathe when something awful happens.
If you had to describe Spoken’s sound to someone who is not familiar with the band, how would you describe it?
I would tell them that we’re a really aggressive band maybe on the verge of metal with a ton of melody. Because you start and go, “Well it’s kind of like the Used or if you were listening to 30 Seconds to Mars with more aggressive elements of this or that,” where often it’s just we’re a hard rock band with elements of metal and melody. The crazy thing is on our single ‘Through It All” people refer to it as early Linkin Park and we didn’t think that at all until people started talking. Either way we love Linkin Park, so that’s fine.
What is one thing you must have on tour with you — no electronics?
Wet Ones, actually the Target brand wet wipes and the reason I know about this is because I have two kids. They’re used for everything, to clean the dash, to clean the console, chocolate milk your son poured on the door or if I need a bird bath because I’m stuck in the van. If I’m feeling really grimey, Wet Ones – pushing gear, I did this as soon as we loaded in, I got in the van and used Wet Ones on my hands to get the metal dust off, you can’t go wrong.
Check Out Spoken’s Lyric Video For ‘Through It All’