NoiseTrade One-on-One

Interview with Matthew Mayfield

For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One interview, we chatted with singer-songwriter (and now podcaster) Matthew Mayfield ahead of the release of his forthcoming album, Gun Shy. Read on to find out about the two new songs he’s offering as advance singles, his new podcast (Inside the Song with Matthew Mayfield) where he’s doing a track-by-track dissection of Gun Shy, filming scenes for his “S.H.A.M.E.” music video in Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birmingham jail cell, and much more!

NoiseTrade: With your forthcoming album Gun Shy coming out in March, tells us about the two new songs – “Our Winds” and “Broken Clocks” – that you’re offering as a sample in your NoiseTrade single.

Matthew Mayfield: I wrote “Our Winds” on a tiny little cheap guitar I bought while spending some downtime in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had the riff and the melody, but I wasn’t sure what it needed lyrically until it fell out of the sky and into my notebook. I vividly remember looking up at all of those beautiful stars in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere and it felt so pure. It’s the only love song on the record and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

As for “Broken Clocks,” it’s definitely in my top three for fastest songs I’ve ever written. It just gave itself to me, which is one of the best feelings as a songwriter. I intentionally held off on finishing the verse lyrics until we were in the studio because I knew I’d be extremely inspired once I heard what Paul Moak and Ethan Luck were going to bring to the table. I went into Moak’s studio a few hours early one day and sure enough, there it was. The sonics of the stripped instrumentation was the kick I needed to truly craft the lyric.

NT: As a super cool bonus project that’s running alongside your new album, you’ve been recording a track-by-track podcast called Inside the Song with Matthew Mayfield. What initially sparked this idea and has the process of talking about each song in-depth like this changed the way you view any of the songs from when you first wrote them?

Mayfield: It’s crazy how quickly that came about. A dear friend of mine suggested the podcast as a way to roll out the record track-by-track. At first I was hesitant because it felt a little self-indulgent. Like, “does anyone actually care about this shit?” I’m so grateful for the way it’s gone over and I plan to continue it with other artists once Gun Shy is out there. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to process the material in hindsight and address the underlying issues head on. It’s such a cathartic experience.

NT: In your podcast episode for “S.H.A.M.E.” you called the track your favorite song on the record. What makes this song so personal for you and why do you think the song came together so quickly (logistically, at least, since it was written in a single day), even though it’s dealing with such a heavy subject?

Mayfield: That song is a monster. Shame is such a taboo subject and keeping secrets inside can destroy even the strongest of souls. I just decided to go for it. Who am I to judge anyone else and who are they to judge me? Everyone has their demons, I just have always been one to sing about them. Shaming and/or abandoning people based on their imperfections is absolutely evil and goes against everything I believe in the deepest pits of my heart. I’ve lost so many dear friends over the past few years and I refuse to let that stop me from singing the truth. I never want anyone to feel alone in their shame. I want to be an ear for anyone who needs to let it out. I think the bridge lyric says it all: “I want out of this sickness.” I know everyone has some things they keep locked deep inside themselves and it’s extremely poisonous. That moment in the song is for all of us. We can scream it out until our voices are shredded and our hearts are less heavy.

NT: You also recorded a forthcoming music video for “S.H.A.M.E.” that includes scenes filmed in the same jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, AL. How was the experience filming in such a hallowed historical place and do you hope it makes a specific statement to present day audiences?

Mayfield: Those scenes are without a doubt the most powerful moments in the video. Fred Weaver, whose character is locked up, is such an amazing person and every time I see those scenes of him screaming his guts out, I get chill bumps. I can’t describe the weight of that experience in words. I just hope that Dr. King is smiling down on all four of the characters with that massive sense of compassion that very few humans have ever possessed. One day there will be peace. But the only way to get there is to go through the swamps. The grief, the sadness, the anger, the frustration, the pain, and the shame. I hope and pray that the visual component to that song will help or affect anyone that sees it and feels less alone as a result. “S.H.A.M.E.” is an acronym for a reason. I’m just not quite ready to explain that part of it quite yet.

NT: Finally, if you could handpick any artist to do an Inside the Song style podcast for any of their albums: who would the artist be and which song would you be dying to hear them talk about for 30 minutes?

Mayfield: Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I could rattle off at least 100 off the top of my head, so I’ll just pick one out of my hat: Peter Gabriel’s “I Grieve” from Up. He’s always been one of my biggest heroes as a songwriter and his voice is by far one of the most haunting sounds when he digs into that lower register. I can feel his pain every single time I hear that song. I wept the first time I heard it without any knowledge of the subject matter. That is what makes a song great. That is what music is all about. If I can affect just one person in that way at any point down the line, I can rest in knowing that I did what I was put on this planet to do.