Q&A: Matt and Kim's Matt Johnson
On being naked in Times Square, Dave Grohl and how he wouldn't turn down Glee
Matt and Kim are officially the most upbeat boy/girl duo in indie pop. But, as we know, happy music is often made by miserable people. What we're trying to say is, are you wildly depressive when the lights go up and the crowd goes home?
Our attitude is definitely on the upbeat side. That's not to say that if I wake for a 5am call time then I'm going to be the most chipper. Other than that, our outlook has always been very positive. We enjoy playing shows and we're honest about it. We've never been one of those bands that stands in front of a full-length mirror and decides the look they are going to have on stage or some crap like that.
You've recently returned from indie love-in South By South West. Regale us with some celebrity anecdotes!
We played a show and Erykah Badu came on. We've sort of interacted with her before. She did a video inspired by a video of ours. I've talked to her on the phone and text messaged. But we'd never met. It wasn't anything we had planned on. She came on and played different elements of Kim's drums.
So she just randomly wandered on and helped herself to a drum stick?
She was standing side of stage. We went into Lessons Learned, the song that inspired her video. A friend of ours, who runs our label, sort of pushed her out there. She grabbed some sticks. It was fun.
Did you catch Jack White busking in the car park?
No, but when we were hanging out in the hotel lobby, Dave Grohl came up to Kim and I and gave us big hugs and said, "It's nice to meet two people who love playing music as much as I do". We'd never met him before. It was pretty wild.
Getting back to Erykah Badu -- as you've alluded to, you inspired her to make the video for Window Seat, where she mooches around downtown Dallas in varying degrees of undress. The spot was controversial because it's filmed along the sidewalk where JFK was shot. But the idea originated with your promo to Lessons Learned, in which you dash around Times Square in the buff. Was that a plea for help? Or a canny piece of viral marketing?
I'd had the idea for a while. We play upbeat music but there are darker lyrics sometimes. That song is about the sense of freedom that comes with hitting rock bottom. I always wondered what would be the best way to show that freedom? Well, what about taking all your clothes off? Originally, I pictured us doing it in the back street of an industrial part of Brooklyn. Then I thought, well maybe doing it in the most public place in the US would be better.
Kim was less enthusiastic, we understand.
Oh yeah -- it took a LOT of convincing. She had to admit afterwards it was a good idea. It won us a break-out artist award at the [MTV] Video Music Awards.
Did the Naked Cowboy take umbrage at your encroaching on his turf?
It's funny, as we were walking around all these tourists were shooting us with their camera phones. We were like, oh no, this is going to get out there before we can release it. So I was Google searching 'naked people, Times Square' and all that was coming up was the Naked Cowboy.
Speaking of David Grohl, he recently had a spat with the producers of Glee over his refusal to licence his music to the show. If Glee came knocking, what would Matt and Kim say?
I've never seen Glee, but a lot of people like it and think it's really fun. I think we'd go for it.
The album Sidewalks is out now
Day & Night