At 8 a.m. Monday, about 30 98.5 KRZ listeners should have been at school, work or maybe even still in bed. Instead, they were in the station’s conference room eagerly anticipating the start of 2009’s first Spotlight Lounge — a monthly showcase sponsored by Subway where lucky listeners get to sit in on an intimate on-air mini-set with a recording artist. This month’s installment featured Capitol Records singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson.
Nathanson, a Massachusetts native who now calls San Francisco home, played three songs from 2007’s “Some Mad Hope”: “Car Crash,” “Come on Get Higher” and “To the Beat of Our Noisy Hearts.” The CD has gained a lot of local and national airplay and has been featured in shows like “Private Practice” and “Scrubs.” Nathanson is no stranger to NEPA — he opened for Lifehouse at the University of Scranton’s Long Center last March.
Before the show began, the affable Nathanson sat with the Weekender to answer these five burning questions.
How important are intimate shows with listeners like this?
This stuff’s totally fun. It’s all sort of hippie, but it’s fun to be able to connect — that’s kind of what makes it worthwhile. I could play to myself, but it’s like the masturbation/sex analogy. [laughs]
This is your second visit to NEPA. Were you able to see any of it?
I’ve just swooped in. And it’s so cold! In normal situations, like Sunday night [when I arrived], I would have gone walking to check out the town, but dude, I feel like I’m in ‘The Shining!’ It’s so cold!
Are you working on any new material?
I’m still promoting this record and the same single. It’s still running, but I’ve been writing while on promo tours like this. The plan is to go in to record between these tours.
What’s your writing process?
A lot of times there’s kind of little bits of information, like I’ll write lyrics and record melodies or guitar parts. That’s the kind of stuff that happens to keep the muscle going, but usually when it comes down to writing, there’s this process of sitting down and trying to vomit out all that’s inside. There’s that vomit phase, then the retooling. Sometimes songs come out of that puking process fully formed, but a lot of times it’s just kind of a brain dump I search through.
You said in a Weekender interview last March that you would be first in line to get Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” if it was ever released. Were you, and what did you think?
I totally was! I didn’t even download it when I could have had access, but I bought it, and I was totally bummed! I though it was claustrophobic, and it didn’t have that Guns N’ Roses swagger to it. Maybe it’s a grower. And maybe it’ll set the stage for the Guns N’ Roses reunion.