Between playing in Seattle acts like Big Bite and Happy Diving, Matt Berry has plenty of indie rock pedigree to his name. But for his latest solo venture under the moniker The Berries, he finds himself embracing a different sonic palette: the elusive twang of country music. But in typical Berry fashion (classic Berry, some may say), he’s interpreting the sound in a completely riveting and vivacious way that’s true to himself with The Berries’ upcoming debut album Start All Over Again, out Oct. 26 via Help Yourself Record.
With The Berries’ latest offering, “Security Blues,” we hear Berry at the intersection of the rowdy ways of the genres he’s dabbled in the past with the one he’s embracing now. Bending notes and amplifier fuzz swirl at the top of the track before a low-end chop of guitars, riffing on the blues squeezes itself in. The drums begin to patter and a grinding distortion lingers in the foreground. Berry’s voice rumbles in the cacophony of western tones, waxing poetic on being alone and looking for a new beginning in a new reality. It’s a tenacious self-examination, heightened by some truly righteous riffs.
You can stream “Security Blues” below. KEXP also caught up with Berry about the intentions behind the project, his fascination with country music, and more insights on the track.
KEXP: You’re a part of a few different projects like Happy Diving and Big Bite, what made you want to put out these songs under The Berries moniker?
Matt Berry: I was writing music that didn’t fit in with Big Bite or Happy Diving’s sound and wanted to have a project I could do all on my own. The Berries came out of that.
There’s a country tinge to these new recordings. What compelled you to go in that sonic direction? Do you have much prior background playing or listening to country records?
I’ve been around country a lot in life, mostly on the radio via my family, most of whom is from the south. I really REALLY hated it growing up. If country was on the radio it was like Brad Paisley or Toby Keith and I hated the mega-patriotic vibe.. beer drinkin’, truck drivin’ attitude... It was so stupid to me. When I heard Gram Parsons for the first time, I finally started to appreciate it. Along with stuff that had country/folk inflections like Neil Young, CCR, Allman Brothers, Townes Van Zandt. They were all the gateway to allowing myself to enjoy country music.
Living in the city, it’s quite a different lifestyle than what’s typically associated with this type of music. Did you feel at all like you had to reconcile these seemingly competing ideas? Or to put it a different way, how does living in the city inform how you approach writing country-leaning or Americana music?
I think certain styles of music lend themselves to certain “lifestyles” but that is an unnecessary aspect of the music that doesn’t need to be there. I don’t have to be from Texas, wear a cowboy hat, drink whiskey and love jesus to play a song that has some country inflection. The city I live in informs me in political ways, but otherwise I don’t really feel it plays much a role in the music I make.
You recorded most of the album by yourself. Given that you play with numerous other musicians, what made you want to take on this project by yourself?
I don’t really like to work with others around. The Berries is something I can have that is just me, a private experience that I get a lot of pleasure out of.
Can you tell me a bit about how “Security Blues” specifically came about? What inspired the track?
“Security Blues” is about losing your place in this world. Watching the world around you change into something that doesn’t want anything to do with you. Seeing yourself disassociate from the reality of others and finding yourself alone, and secure in that place.
Pre-orders for Start All Over Again are available now. Catch The Berries at their release show on Nov. 15 at Kame House with Great Spiders.
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