Matthew Perryman Jones Sings About Personal Empowerment on "Anything Goes" (premiere + interview)

Photo: Fairlight Hubbard

On "Anything Goes", Matthew Perryman Jones appreciates that to make a difference, we have to keep those shades pulled up, find those common, unifying connections.

With our busy, everyday lives, it can be all too easy to pull down the shades and ignore what's going on outside. After all, the constant pressure to challenge, advocate, champion, and boycott can be, quite frankly, exhausting. We have lives, children, jobs that often, quite rightly, divert our attention from the latest political catastrophe. Therefore, sometimes we just need a little reminder that things aren't going to improve on their own. A reminder that we need to keep going. A reminder that only together can our individual whispers unite into a collective, unignorable roar. That is the central message behind Nashville-based singer/songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones' new single "Anything Goes", taken from his fifth album, The Waking Hours, releasing on 21 September.

Over Layers of ringing acoustic guitars and urgent drums, "Anything Goes" is a surprisingly upbeat, mid-tempo indie folk song. Filled with subtle melodies, the song builds to a sublime, understated chorus that serves as one of his catchiest to date. Not one to bash you over the head with his polemic, Perryman Jones instead crafts wonderfully literate lines steeped in the realities of maintaining a unified opposition ("Things just won't get better / When you're silent").

On the excellent "Anything Goes", Perryman Jones appreciates that to make a difference, we have to keep those shades pulled up, find those common, unifying connections and remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Below, Perryman Jones goes into more depth about his inspiration behind the song and gives us more of an insight into what makes him tick.

What was the first album you fell head over heels in love with?

The Unforgettable Fire by U2

When did you start making music for yourself?

I started writing in high school but started pursuing it full time around 1999.

Who did you want to be like when you were starting out?

Either Michael Stipe or Bono (this was in mid to late '80s)

Was it easy for you to let people hear your first compositions?

No. I was painfully self conscious and shy.

What is the idea behind "Anything Goes"?

The main idea is personal empowerment and action when it comes to making any kind of difference in the world. It came in light of the current political atmosphere in our country. The thought that essentially things will change when people take their own power back and stop handing it over to political systems.

What do you want the listener to take away from the song?

I guess just the feeling that we each have the power to make things happen. And when you know that something has to change, to move and shake it up yourself.

At what point in the making of the album, The Waking Hours, did you come up with "Anything Goes"?

This song showed up in the middle of recording this record. Totally new and unexpected.

How quickly did the song come together?

Pretty quickly. Within a day or so.

Are you an instinctual, spontaneous writer or do you prefer to meticulously plan out how parts are going to sound?

I lean more on the instinctual side of things, at least initially. I rarely start with a set idea. I like to noodle around and see what comes up. Once something shows up that feels like a solid feeling or idea then I start sculpting it out.

Musically, what were the touchstones for you when making the track?

We all (Josh, Owen and I) wanted to keep the song simple and understated. Thematically, it could've gone in a bigger direction. But it felt right to keep it driven but understated.

Have you had the chance to play the song live yet? If so, does the live version stay true to the record or has it taken on a live form all of its own?

I played it once for a private listening party while we were recording the record.

Now you've had a chance to live with the song for a while, what's your relationship with it?

I haven't. I'm curious how this will come together for the live show…if it will take any different turns in a live setting. We'll see.

Who is your go to quality controller? Who do you look to to give honest feedback?

The producers for this record-Josh Kaler and Owen Biddle-were the best for quality control. They both are amazing musicians with great taste. They kept things in the right direction and challenged my own sensibilities and preferences (which can often be ruts or safe places for me). Other than that, my kids are pretty great in giving a prompt thumbs up or thumbs down.

Finally, who would your dream collaborator be and why?

I'm not sure. Probably Daniel Lanois. I love what he's done with the artists he's worked with—Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan to old U2. He seems to provoke and evoke the best elements out of the people he works with. He seems to be intent on finding the duende.

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