We spoke with Jared Mattson of The Mattson 2 about his upcoming record with Chaz Bundick, Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2, out today on Company Records.
The Mattson 2 are Jared and Jonathan Mattson, two identical twins - both classically trained and degreed music students. What are the influences that impact your creativity as a duo?
Yes, we studied jazz and classical theory formally for our BA, then we went onto to pursue our MFA more or less focusing on musical composition at U.C. Irvine. They have an awesome, small, and focused program called ICIT (Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology). Influences . . . Yikes, thats a big question! We always have our lifetime influences like Gabor Szabo, Axelrod, Miles, YMO, Varese, Pat Metheny, Cocteau Twins, and The Smiths, but as musicians we are constantly on the search.
What influences us as a duo is more the creative inspiration that comes from being a human being. Our ability to create in the way that we do separates us from every other species. What fuels our music is a balance between giving melody and groove to the audience and then catering to our own improvisational communication.
You guys have done extensive work soundtracking and scoring short films and visual arts projects. How is creating for film different than creating for an album or do you have some conscious visualization any time you create music?
With a good album, there's a whole concept and nothing can get in the way of it except yourself - complete freedom. When you are scoring for someone, even though you were hired in the first place to add a sonic fingerprint, you still need to take into consideration many things that influence the music i.e. landscape, budget, mood, character, picture matching, and timing. On top of all of that you might have to convince a non-musical person that the music is perfect! We love scoring, it is a challenge and it is a beautiful thing to be able to complete the identity of a piece using music.
How did you guys get involved with Chaz Bundick?
We got to know Chaz through a mutual friend Andrew Paynter.
How did Chaz's role in the record impact the sound and production?
I could write a short story on this whole process. He produced the whole record. People don't always understand what a producer in music is. A producer in music is similar to a director in film. We came to the table with half or complete songs and then he would act as the arranger and we even started composing together as a trio. He added sounds that we've never fully explored on our other records e.g. multiple types of synths, electric bass, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, autoharp, and most notably vocals.
How does your biological connection affect your songwriting and band dynamic? Have you guys been playing together your whole life?
Yeah, we played with toys together as kids, drew together, we moved on to making home made horror films in junior high, then in high school we really started going for music. As identical twins we share the same DNA - we are basically the same person. Jonathan's wife uses the term "body double." Some twins go against this bond, others use it to make themselves stronger. In music, one thing that John Coltrane experimented with was not over thinking the music and letting the concert space be a place to expand the very idea of real time musical communication. As twins, we have reached that level of musical communication where you become so much a part of the music you almost forget you even exist!
For Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2, what was the songwriting process? Was it an equal parts collaboration for all aspects of the record or did each person have a distinct role?
We have done 2 other "Meets" projects - one with Ray Barbee in 2007 and one with a Japanese couple Chocolat and Akito in 2016. In all of the "Meets" projects, each member plays a distinct and equal role. With CBMM2, Chaz even went beyond that model and engineered the whole thing as well. Even on songs written 100% by Mattson 2 like "Cascade," "Disco Kid," and "Steve Pink," Chaz had a heavy impact on the instrumentation, arrangement, and groove. If it needed extra instruments or a new part or a key change like in "JBS," for example, Chaz would talk about it with us and we'd all agree. We'd also record our jam sessions and tweak them a bit post production like on "Star Stuff" and "Sonmoi." Then there were songs that were pretty much complete and Chaz would track and add additional production ideas with the feel or the length of certain parts like in "Steve Pink." What was amazing was that this was the first time we ever used a click-track which actually gave the music more freedom because more parts could coexist than ever before.
The record is out on Chaz's label Company Records. What are the advantages of having the label owner a performing member of the release? Are there added pressures to this situation as far as expectations for sales or positive critical reviews - or is it quite the contrary?
The advantage of being with Company is that it is Chaz's brand so the aesthetic and the records he releases are in great taste. Also, he has an awesome musical fan base that trust his musical decisions. Company is a subsidiary of Carpark so it is well connected to the music world. They have great press, too. There is less pressure than ever before simply because we are part of a bigger musical machine and movement.
The tour kicks off with a hometown show for Chaz in Columbia, SC. Is this show feel like a special occasion for the band in the same way it does for the fans?
Regardless of where we start, it is extra special to be able to perform all of this music live and take ourselves as a trio to places we have never been musically. My fascination with musical performance has to do with the lifting off towards the unknown while keeping in the back of your mind that eventually you and your audience are going to have to come home. That's when you bring in the groove and the melody!