B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Andersen: If anything I’d have to say a bear, more specifically a polar bear. I’ve always preferred the cool to the heat and really love the “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” mentality a bear has. I also like the idea of sleeping for long periods at a time.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Andersen: Music for me is as much a part of me as my lungs or my heart. I really can’t imagine not having it. In a situation where I’m not comfortable on my own, I’m comfortable if music is with me. Finding new music gives me the same joy that getting a new toy does to a child. It’s something new to experience, a new way to look at what is going on around you.
Creating music is how I best communicate with others and with myself. Writing a song often feels like I’m sitting down across from myself and telling myself a story of how I’m feeling or of something I want to share.
I think of music as a friend. A friend that when you first met you knew you would be friends for life and that feeling gets stronger with every time I play. I don’t know if music called to me, or if I called out for music, but I think we more or less found each other.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as you step foot on that stage?
Andersen: A great show is like a great conversation. There is an exchange between the audience and the performer. Like a great conversation, both sides are inputting and sharing the energy of what is going on. The hardest shows, like the hardest conversations, are when it is one sided. One side speaking and one side just listening and not responding.
All I can hope for when I hit the stage is that by the time the night is done people can leave feeling fulfilled. Like they’ve been a part of something that only the people in that room will know.
B&L: You do a lot of traveling. What’s the importance of travel – of being in motion? What do you enjoy about moving from place to place?
Andersen: Motion keeps things fresh. It’s the same reason people try different restaurants, or different vacation spots. Motion brings new experiences, which definitely brings new life into the music.
I love the feeling that moving from place to place gives. It’s a feeling of progress and moving forward. New places bring new people.
B&L: You’re from the North. Canada. What do you love about your home country? How does Canada inform the music that you play? Is it strange to travel around to places that don’t know you as well as your known up north? (Like down here in New Hampshire…)
Andersen: I’ve been lucky to travel to many of the different parts of Canada. It’s a country full of space and open areas, which is something I value. Growing up in the East Coast of Canada there are so many cultures that have come together. In a short distance you can experience several different dialects and cultures that are all somehow tied together by the land.
I can’t imagine any artist that hasn’t been affected by where they are from. Every experience I have finds its way into my show somehow. It could be work ethic, stage presence, the songs themselves or just in the way you interact with the people around you.
I love getting to play for new people. That’s why I’m on the road. A new crowd brings a new energy. Like the first day of school after summer break. I get excited for it.
B&L: That said, you’ve been to New Hampshire a couple of times now (for shows at Prescott Park as well as an appearance at the White Mountain Boogie and Blues Fest last year – one of my favs…). What do you enjoy about visiting us here in the Granite State?
Andersen: I really like getting to new places, and New Hampshire is a stage I haven’t visited much. I’m always up from something new. The shows I have had here have been great; I look forward to more of them.
B&L: Tell us a little bit about your latest recorded work, “Honest Man.” What’s it all about?
Andersen: I am extremely happy with how Honest Man turned out. Working with Commissioner Gordon as the producer I feel like he really captured where I’m at right now with my singing and writing. It was a great experience in the studio. A positive vibe with fantastic musicians. Writing for the album was a treat as well. I got to write with some new people whom I’ve never worked with before. I feel like we got the best songs we could and that Gordon did an amazing job at bringing them to life.
B&L: I love the URL to your website. www.stubbyfingers.ca. Is having a sense of humor important in life? How do stubby fingers impede guitar playing? You don’t seem to be suffering all that much. We have hooves, so we’re terrible when it comes to playing instruments…
Andersen: Stubbyfingers was the name of my first group that I played with live. We needed a name and it fit. I had a lot of fun in that group and have hung onto the name since. Having a sense of humor is a must in life. It gets me through situations that would otherwise be unbearable. Humor is a common factor in everybody’s life. No matter who you are, you appreciate a good laugh.
My stubby fingers have never really caused me too much headache with my guitar playing. I’ve found ways to make them work for what I do.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Andersen: Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
It’s just the perfect execution of a song. Simple, to the point lyrics, a great vocal delivery and an arrangement that serves the song perfectly.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform Birdseye Lounge on March 16th?
Andersen: For the first time in years, I’m travelling with a band we’ve dubbed the Bona Fide. We’ve been having a blast at the shows. I’ll be playing songs from the new album as well as from my entire catalogue. We’ve been letting the shows go off fairly organically. Changing up the sets from night to night, depending on how we’re feeling. The goal is to get some feet tapping and faces smiling. So far it has worked.
B&L: What’s the best “road food?”
Andersen: Any kind of food that doesn’t taste like you just paid money for it. Sometimes that could be just being able to make your own sandwich. It’s a simple but sometimes elusive commodity.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Andersen: 12 “get out of jail free” cards. The Monopoly would be mine.
B&L: Extra Credit Questions: How often do people misspell your last name “Andersen”?
Andersen: Too often… much too often.
Don’t miss Matt Andersen when the honest man visits the Birdseye Lounge with his honest band on Wednesday, March 16th. Tickets are available here.