Matthew Szlachetka may already be known for his role in the highly successful Northstar Session, but, as one door must close for another to open, good things must come to an end only to make room for growth. With his new solo album, Waits for a Storm to Find, Szlachetka has taken that step of faith into the unknown. The album is courageously honest and heralds a promising new chapter in his career.
Waits for a Storm to Find is the result of Szlachetka tirelessly pursuing his own voice. He draws on rock, blues, soul and more to find a space uniquely his own. It has a feeling and an essence that comes from harnessing his deepest musical interests by filtering them through his vision and experience of the world.
NYMM: Tell me a bit about the transition from being in Northstar Session to launching a solo career.
MS: I was in a band for about seven years and after a while we just started spinning our wheels. Everyone was starting to go in different directions. It was just time for everybody to part ways. I had a bunch of songs that I had written near the end that I used to start this album.
NYMM: When did you start putting together the album?
MS: We started the recording in the first week of June that year, and tracked about 70% of it in the first week. We would go on tour and then I’d keep tracking when I got back. I did all the vocals, harmonies, and some touch-ups around that time. The last bit of tracking was in October of that year with strings and horns.
NYMM: Did it make a difference to work on it with that schedule?
MS: Being my first solo album, I’m glad we had the time we did. Besides getting the meat of the album cut live, which is what we wanted, and having the luxury of no deadline this meant I was able to go back and fix stuff that I knew could be better. A lot of it was stuff I did, like writing a guitar part with the wrong tone or something.
NYMM: Was it a lot different from writing and recording with a band?
MS: It was similar to writing with a band. In the band, the drummer and I wrote most of the songs, and then we would make demos of them. I approached my album the same way. I did demos where I put down harmonies and different guitar parts, and, as we did pre-production, we would sort through them. I co-produced it with George Johnson and Joe Napolitano, and they definitely brought out some great aspects of the album, but I also had a significant hand in the overall production.
NYMM: You just released a single for “Come Home for December.” Tell me about that release.
MS: “Come Home for December” just came out, and it was really good timing. It got picked up on SiriusXM’s The Pulse station where Train’s Pat Monahan started playing it. He called me to get more of the backstory and tour info, which was really cool.
NYMM: Tell me about one of the other songs. Maybe “And I See You Now”?
MS: Without being too specific, “And I See You Now” was written about those certain things in your life that prevent you from moving forward, whether that’s personally or professionally. I wrote that after feeling pretty frustrated with certain things. I got back from a tour that was testing, and it was when I got back that I wrote most of the album. It’s a song about realizing that there’s a problem, but not doing anything about it since you’re trying to mend it to try and make it work. Sometimes the best thing to do is just walk away.
The album is mostly autobiographical. For a long time, when I was writing for my old band, when I was afraid to let people into the dark places. This album for me is letting it all out, letting people into a more vulnerable side.
“Waits for a Storm to Find” is very personal. I was going through some stuff in my personal relationship. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but that song is about wasted potential. It’s about when you have everything ahead of you, but you just can’t get it together to make it work. It actually took a long time before I knew what the song was really going to be about.
NYMM: What do you do when you get writer’s block like that?
MS: For that song, it literally took a coyote to get me out of it. I was on a run really early one morning when I was living in the area near the Hollywood sign. It was early morning and the fog was out. The sun was just starting to peek out from the trees. Suddenly, I saw a coyote about 40 yards ahead of me, and instead of bolting like it would normally do, it just made eye contact and started trotting along. Every five yards or so, it would turn around to see if I was following. We did a four-mile loop together. By the time I got home, I knew what the song was about. It was about someone living at odds with their world. The coyote has this small amount of nature it lives in with this massive city around it and it is trying to live between both sides.
NYMM: Does the album have a similar overall theme?
MS: For me, the album is about transition. It’s about being at a major crossroads and knowing you have to go through it. I was going through a major shift both professionally and personally.
Photos by Jon Karr / www.thatverynextthing.com
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