British born singer-songwriter and musician Matt Owens first came to prominence as a founder member of indie-folk band Noah and the Whale. Releasing four albums, Noah and the Whale achieved huge success in the UK and overseas, selling over one million albums in the UK alone.
In 2016 Matt formed the band Little Mammoths, releasing the critically acclaimed debut album Phantom Dreams. The band tours the UK and Ireland on a regular basis, and was invited to play an unprecedented 6 sets at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival.
Matt is currently touring the UK with forthcoming album ‘Whiskey and orchids’ produced by Nigel Stonier and We talk to Matt about his latest career move, debut single Lay Down Honey which was released earlier in November.
You can enjoy Matt Owens playing in The Blue Bell Inn on the 27th of December from 7pm and at Harbour Records on the 29th of January 2019 as part of his album launch.
Has a solo music career always been on Matt Owens agenda?
Not at all. I’ve always been a “band guy.” It came about purely through practicalities, brutal reality and fortunate opportunity. I needed to be making money as totally unfit for purpose for anything else, and no one wanted a rock’n’roll band Monday-Thursday so I ended up playing more solo than with a band.
How did Noah & The Whale come about?
I was asked to join by Doug, my oldest childhood friend, to join him and his brother Charlie as a violinist in this band Noah and the Whale. I soon switched to harmonium, and the glockenspiel and then thankfully bass.
What’s behind the name Noah & The Whale, Little Mammoths – there’s an animal theme?
Ha, not intentionally, though 3/4 Little Mammoths used to exist under the moniker Hunting Dodo in a seminal Noughties jam band. Noah and the Whale came from the film the Squid and the Whale and the director’s first name was “Noah.” Little Mammoths was named after two fuzz pedals I had on my pedal board: The Little Big Muff and the Woolly Mammoth. Gag being, we could have been called The Woolly Big Muff!!
With the contrasting styles of your two bands, where do you draw inspiration from for a solo album?
A criteria of the record was that I wanted to be able to serve the songs solo, whether on piano and guitar, and you not be missing too much from the original album. The sound of the record hopefully came about through the musicians being able to equally express themselves and the steady hand of Nigel Stonier steering between these two worlds.
You are often found playing guitar and singing in pubs. After world tours, sell-out gigs at the Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury and countless live TV performances, what do you enjoy about playing intimate venues?
It’s actually much more of a challenge to convert people in the intimate venues, who have zero expectation or might not even want to hear music that night, especially when they don’t know your own back catalogue! It’s also a great way to explore the world (discovering things like The Blue Bell’s Oyster Stout for example) which you wouldn’t otherwise find…
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be and why?
Tom Waits. Every noise he’s ever recorded has been deliciously, darkly perfect!
If you could write a film theme tune, what would it be and why?
A revamp of Jesse James. I’d like the idea of failing to take on Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
2 pints at 2pm used to be the law of the land but now I try to keep things as liquid as possible.
What’s next for Matt Owens? Is a Noah & The Whale reunion on the cards?
Touring this record for the next two festival cycles and then returning with a new one! (While keeping all doors and windows open)
Can you whistle? (Am I allowed to ask you this?)
You know I can’t, but well done on making this an outing exclusive!