The good folk over at Super Fan 99 sure know a thing or two about unearthing great talent, and this new release certainly is no different. Introducing downer-pop songsmith Matt McKee and his delicately crafted debut record ‘The Body You Ride Around In’. His music is slightly reminiscent of the likes of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, but with a real garage twang of his own.
On top of that, we reached out to Matt McKee for a quick track by track guide, so you can really dig your teeth into this deliciously well crafted album. Enjoy.
SONNET FOR CAGED BIRD HOPPING MADLY ON TRAPEZE: The original plan last October was to make an EP. Having recorded four tracks I went to Belfast to visit my grandparents and my hostel had a guitar that was so beaten up, the neck was coming away from the body acting like a whammy bar. While showing it some love, I came up with the guitar part that, like Super Hans’ bassline for Mama’s Kumquat, I couldn’t stop playing. I liked it so much I decided to record it with Henri. When I got home I found some words that had once meant something to me and was happy with how they fitted together.
WALDEINSAMKEIT: is a German word meaning ‘the feeling of being alone in the woods’ and the song is me remembering a guy I went to school with who joined the army. I’d worked out a chord progression with a slash chord I borrowed from an Arcade Fire song and Cath added some beautiful piano that became my favourite part of the song. Henri suggested adding some unusual textures which turned out to be from the solar system and beyond. Thanks NASA. They pop up elsewhere too, the beep the record opens with is Sputnik.
ALCHEMY AND OTHER TRICKS: I never used to bother with altered tunings because of the faff when playing live. This song really opened up my playing. It came about when I picked up my guitar after playing Jose Gonzalez’s cover of Heartbeats and quickly found it freed me to almost accompany myself, playing a melody line over the fingerpicking. The voicings in the outro were inspired by Elliott Smith’s ‘Let’s Get Lost’ and the idea was to take the song in a different direction the way Joanna Newsom does so perfectly, driven by Henri’s rock solid percussion.
(Shout out to Northern Monk Refectory who just brought my lunch over. The food here is fantastic.)
PHOTOGRAPHY: I’ve long been a fan of the studied scruffiness of wobbly quarter tone bends like the riff here that slides high up the neck. Lyrically, it follows on from Alchemy about how time makes a mockery of everything eventually. The title is a nod to Susan Sontag’s On Photography though it owes equal thanks to a French man called Marcel who spent all his time in bed. Actually, the title is also because if you google my name you get alot about a photographer and I wish to usurp him.
DUNNO HOW: I should have come to with a better title for this, though I probably didn’t because it always felt a bit throw away. Probably because I started writing it after reading a Youtube comment on Aztec Camera’s biggest hit, the title of which starts each verse. There’s an old multitrack version up on my bandcamp with a crazier lead guitar part, but to sit with the rest of the album Henri got out some scuzzy pedals and I played fewer notes. My friend John Mears said it sounds like someone trying to forcibly remove a guitar from J Mascis.
TROUBLE SLEEPING: This one came out in one go, because the two things the song is about – meeting the man looking for a place to sleep in the small hours of a bitter January morning and seeing the newspaper story about a house being bought in Belgravia for £46M – happened in the space of a few days. The little bendy riff I worked out in Wunjos trying out a Larrivée.
SHILLY SHALLY: This is was an old song I reworked for recording, partly because Mr Super Fan 99 himself was always a fan of it. Underneath the philosophical musings it’s a love song about making someone the meaning of your life. Though I’d caution against that as I did exactly that with the person I wrote it for and things didn’t work out so well.
I WON’T BE THERE: Following on from that, this is probably the bleakest of the existential moments on the record. It was part autobiography part fiction when I wrote it, but in the end it became scarily accurate. I can’t say if it comes through but I was listening to Veckatimest a lot when I came up with the guitar part
PHOTOGRAPHY #2: This was an 11th hour addition. I liked the mood created by the guitar’s chromatic bass line and started singing different scribblings over the top of it. I wasn’t sure if it was finished when we sat down to record it. It cramps my hand to play it so I’ve still not played it live, but I have come up with a strangely apt segue into Biggie’s Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems so will have to do it soon.
WAKE YOU: This was a twenty five past the eleventh hour addition. It was my first time at Henri’s place as a human beholden to no one and we had just finished the very final overdubs with some time to spare, so we did a couple of takes of a song I’d written the day before. There’s a cool chorus effect created by the tuning the high e down to b.
SOMETHING HAPPENED: This is the song I’m most pleased with, both on record and to play live. I forget which track from In Rainbows I was trying to emulate, but I knew from the first that I wanted some French Horn on this. (Even though I had to listen to audio files to confirm how it sounded.) The first verse was inspired by the Joseph Heller novel of the same name, where the protagonist phones his work to see if he’s there.