After the influential chamber-pop band Cardinal released their debut album in 1994, both members of the group moved onto other things. For Eric Matthews, that meant releasing a string of solo albums, arranging for artists like Elliott Smith and the Dandy Warhols, and playing in Seinking Ships. He reunited with Richard Davies to release another Cardinal album in 2012 and joined the band SheLoom the following year, but now Matthews is returning to his solo career, with a new album called Too Much World arriving via Lo-Fidelity Records in February. Today, he’s sharing lead single “Exactly Like Them,” a fuzzy rocker inspired by Sugar Ray…sort of. As Matthews explains:
In early 2000 I was on a trip to NYC to work on what became the album Long Distance by Ivy. Andy Chase was producing and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne) was over as we were all doing overdubs on the Ivy record. On a break Andy was up making coffee or something, and taking calls while Adam and I were talking
about music and strumming guitars on Andy’s sofa. He started playing some cool sounding song and he said it was the latest Sugar Ray single, had just hit radio. The song was “Falls Apart.” I hadn’t heard it yet and he was singing the chorus and I could tell it was a cool song. We got to singing harmonies, just enjoying the simple chords and melody. Andy came into the room and said, ears perked, “what’s that?”. That was a snapshot in time that helped give birth to “Exactly Like Them.” At least I think so.
Several years later, must have been late-2008, I awoke from a dream with a near fully fleshed-out pop song. In the dream I had put on MTV to check out what was rotating. Sugar Ray came on and there was Marc hamming it up but singing this incredible song. The chorus sounded like a hit single but the song was heavy, dark, and serious sounding, a bit out of character for Mark. And in the dream I was picking up the phone to call Andy Chase because at the end of the song it said, produced by Andy Chase. I was calling to tell him how much I loved the track. That is where the dream ended and it was one of those where you didn’t know if it was a dream or if it was real. I had the chorus fully intact in my head, with lyrics, the handclaps and other key production elements fresh in my mind. I went to the internet to see if the song was real or not, the lyric, Sugar Ray, and nothing. It was a figment of my MTV-dream-cosmic-radio-station-thing that so many of the greats have spoken of. I quickly got my Hummingbird out and wrote the verse and bridge bits lyrically. It’s really strange to get a song out of the air like that. It’s only happened once before for me, on My Morning Parade in 1997. That’s a 9 year interval. It should be happening again any moment now.