INTERVIEW: MATT BERRY & THE MAYPOLES | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Well known for his roles in the IT Crowd and Toast Of London, there is more to Matt Berry than meets the eye. Also an incredibly talented screen writer, song writer and musician, Matt will soon be touring with The Maypoles across the UK and he’s coming to Newcastle’s Riverside on Friday 4th December. I had a chat with him to learn more about his song writing.

How long have you been playing music? 
I have been playing music since I was about 11. The first instrument, and most important instrument, was an organ. I had to write music because I couldn’t (and still can’t) read it. I recorded my own songs onto a four-track cassette recorder and learnt the methods and engineering from there.

What is your favourite album and your favourite song?
My favourite album is still Tubular Bells as I’ve not heard anything that equals it in terms of chaos, the sinister, originality and the troubled. My favourite song is more difficult. I’ll say I Saw The Light by Todd Rundgren because it’s perfect.

Can you tell us a little about your song writing process?
There’s no strict process as such. I usually come up with an idea when playing someone else’s guitar or piano. I then record it onto my phone and that snatch of whatever will either turn into a verse, middle-eight or the chorus of a yet unwritten song. They usually come together at 4am where I am awoken with two unconnected unfinished song ideas that suddenly fit together perfectly.

Do you enjoy touring and performing live with the Maypoles?
I love it. I think after several albums people now realise that they are not getting a stand up show, or anything comical so, we can all just concentrate on the music.

Have you ever had any crazy moments with the band on stage?
I spotted someone who I’d been trying to avoid for years in the audience at a gig once. His face grinning up at me as I tried to work out how I’d swerve him after the gig whilst at the same time trying to remember the lyrics to the song I was meant to be singing.

Your music and screen writing cross over art forms and you use your music in your TV work. Do you write songs that happen to fit in with your writing or do you write for TV first and create songs afterwards? Or is it purely coincidental?
Sometimes it’s a coincidence. When I’m writing the songs for Toast Of London I’m usually about to start a new album, so all the songs that worked for the show could end up developed and fully explored and turned into finished songs for the next album. There is always too much drama around TV show making as there are more people who need to look like they are busy and making a contribution. There is less of this when making an album as I do that largely on my own and if there are comments or suggestions it’s either too late or I can ignore them.

Are you working on any new song material? Can we get a flavour of your thoughts at the moment?
I am about to start work on my next album. I have a lot of ideas on my phone and in my head and on Toast of London so I’m ‘sa ready to go boy…

Is there anything you would like to tell us about your music that no one asks you about or that your think people should know about?
It’s not a joke, it’s from the guts and made with love, and a strong hand.

Matt Berry & the Maypoles release new record, Live, on 20th November via Acid Jazz, with a nationwide tour in December, visiting Newcastle’s Riverside on Friday 4th December.
Toast Of London returns to Channel 4 at 10.30pm on Wednesday 18th November. ‘Toast On Toast: Cautionary Tales And Candid Advice’ is out now.

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