B i o g r a p h y
Originally from Virginia, Matt Morrell honed his indie rock chops as the rhythm guitar player for En Francais, a shoegaze-pop outfit whose reputation for clothing sharp, sixties-era songwriting in dense layers of electronic noise caught the attention of the college radio literati. After sharing stages with indie legends such as John Vanderslice, The Wrens, The Rosebuds, and Sufjan Stevens, Matt left En Francais and set his sights on the source of so much of the music he loved - New York City.
In New York, Matt spent long hours in dark cafes, absorbing the songs and performances of other bands and songwriters. In the first month, he listened to over a hundred performers, from the quiet folk pop of "JAYMAY" to the experimental rock of "Darediablo" and "Other Passengers". He kept a journal, taking notes on how audiences responded, on song stuctures,and on the stickers on musicians' guitars.
For work, Matt waited on tables during the day in a restaurant only blocks away from the guilded Brill Building near Times Square. He found a cheap apartment in Brooklyn with a drifter whose taste for cigarette butts off the street rivaled his inexplicable fear of furniture. By all accounts, Matt Morrell was living the dream.
The experience was quickly and directly channeled into his writing, which is the source of the majority of songs on the new record, "Evette". In the first winter alone, Matt wrote over two dozen songs, many giving voice to that sense of isolation that is so familiar to anyone who has ever left home to pursue their art:
"I haven't left my room in a few days
I feel numb to the movement of time.
The streets are probably filled
with sleds on hills and snow-laced Virginia pines."
There is purpose in the writer's isolation - hope within the solitude - and the paradox of loneliness in a city of millions.
But the journey was not all inward - there is a sense of adventure in many of Matt Morrell's songs. The title song from the new record, Evette, narrates a murder mystery with few anchors in time or space. "Smoke Rings", a live favorite that tells a story of a night gone horribly wrong, ending with the narrator concluding, "I'm too young for this scene - all these older city women and their statutory dreams" - a playful twist on NYC's infamous "cougars".
As a live performer, Matt has an explosive presence, often improvising songs on the fly and inviting audience members up to the stage to sing and play. Whether in the back rooms of crowded dive bars in Brooklyn and the legendary stages of the Lower East Side, Matt cut his performing teeth deep in the heart of New York City. Later, Matt embarked on a successful DIY east coast tour, playing 25 dates from NYC to Georgia, even picking up an award for best songwriting in Asheville, NC along the way.
Matt moved to the DC area to record his first album, Evette, with Dean Fitzgerald of En Francais and Matt Arduini. For two years, they alternated between recording and playing shows along the east coast, including a 9 week residency in Virginia.
Matt Morrell is currently living in the Washington DC area with his wife and four children.
See: the Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice, Neutral Milk Hotel, Violent Femmes, Bright Eyes, Two Gallants
Bio by Tom Williams