Music Interview: Kids should listen to the gospel of Matt Good

By Simon Mallett

He is an artist with a passion to use his work to make people think about the world around them. It’s who Matthew Good is, and don’t think for a second he doubts the power of music to do just that.

“Art has the power to influence in a more realistic way than corporations or government,” Good says over the telephone on a pleasant afternoon. “Would you rather be influenced or manipulated? Would you rather be provided your thoughts or form them yourself?”

Matthew Good has never been one to hide his politics in his music, but with his new album, White Light Rock & Roll Review, his worldviews are more present than ever.

“There’s a time to be overt and blatant and this is the time,” claims Good about the lyrics on the new album. “I wanted it to be very straightforward.”

These are the thoughts which make Matthew Good a refreshing change from the mass-marketed brand of music so prominent in recent years, a trend he believes is due to the position of the labels.

“Record companies are corporations first and foremost,” states Good. “Being politically involved isn’t their business.”

Fortunately, Good has avoided potential conflicts in his dealings with record companies.

“Most of them are okay with what I do, but there would be a limit I would think. It’s a tenuous relationship of dual usership.”

The lyrics on his latest album provide the avenue for exactly the kind of self-questioning that he seeks to elicit. In “Alert Status Red,” the first single from his latest album, Good sings. “Men in holes/men in caves/men in chains/I ask but the store clerk needn’t check/man I forget, which came first the bad idea or me befallen by it?” In fact, references to world news, political figureheads and innocent civilians are present throughout the album on songs such as “Blue Skies Over Bad Lands” and “North American For Life”, a song referencing Canada’s close ties to the American War Machine. “We are bombarded daily by Pax-Americana,” says Good, “we are de facto Americans.”

It’s really no surprise this album has its head in the newspaper, because when it comes to the news, Good knows what he’s talking about.

“I’ve been studying foreign policy for twenty years,” Good proclaims, going on to talk about the series of disastrous American foreign interventions over that period. The similarities to Iraq and Afghanistan are not lost on him, “how people can’t see this shit is beyond me.”

But Good’s work as an activist goes beyond his music. The new album and his official web site,, both carry advertisements for Amnesty International, the worldwide organization dedicated to protecting human rights. “I’ve been a member of Amnesty for years and I’ve been actively promoting them at shows for about two years. When I can, I speak with their youth and student groups as well.”

In a time of critical elections and tumultuous world events, Matthew Good is an artist who speaks through his music as well as his celebrity, and he does it very effectively. Bringing his socially and politically aware brand of rock to MacEwan Hall this Friday night, when you hear the songs off the new album in concert, they’ll sound very familiar. “The album was influenced by me wanting to capture that live, off the floor sound,” Good says, “I think it captures what the band does live on stage.”

And to top it all off, you won’t have to search too hard in order to get the message either.

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