Sharp Sails Solo On New Set
Formerly a member of modern rock hitmakers Weezer and the Rentals, Matt Sharp says his upcoming solo album is a labor of love that brought him peace of mind. A plaintive country affair in decidedly stark contrast to his past work, the self-titled release is due April 15 through online retailers and May 4 via traditional outlets on the independent In Music We Trust label.
“Certainly, there is very little in common between the music I am most well known for and [my] debut,” Sharp tells Billboard.com. “I guess the main thing is that coming towards the end of [the tour for the Rentals’ 1999 release] ‘Seven More Minutes,’ there was a point where I looked into my CD collection and realized that most of the music that I was listening to wasn’t the same kind of music that I was writing and performing.”
What he was listening to was Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, which didn’t jive with his David Lee Roth-like onstage antics with the Rentals. “It seemed like the best thing for me to do was to take a break,” he explains. “Go away for a while and do some thinking and start asking questions about how I can get to a place where I can write the kind of music that I was most inspired by.”
After considering a possible third Rentals album, which he says would have been a “very direct punk kind of record,” Sharp packed up a van full of recording equipment and rented a house in Leipers Fork, Tenn., a one-restaurant, one-gas-station town located just under an hour outside of Nashville, with former Cake guitarist Greg Brown and producer Josh Hager.
“I just didn’t want to get to a place where I started to feel dishonest about what I was doing,” he says. “I didn’t want to continue to make a certain kind of music only because it would be easy for people to understand because that is how they understand me. To me, to continue on because it is financially viable, [there] doesn’t seem to be a lot of honor in that.”
A preview of the 11-track album can be heard at Sharp’s official Web site, which boasts a free download of the meditative “Just Like Movie Stars,” an album track reminiscent of Nick Drake.
“I think that people should expect that the album itself is going to be quite a different experience than anything I’ve done in the past, as far as the mood and tone of the record,” says Sharp. “It is a very sleepy record. It is kind of a Sunday morning record. And saying that, I think they should also expect the concerts to be more of a lighter affair.”
“The record was written and recorded during a darker time in my life and I am really enjoying where I am at now,” he adds. “So, even though [the songs] are sparse and contemplative, a lot of times they still have a sense of joy about them.”
An extensive tour is planned for the fall, with a handful of solo dates scheduled later this month on college campuses. Sharp says he feels safe playing in the university setting, which he describes as “an environment where people are just used to being attentive and being polite.”
At one such mid-February show at California State Fullerton, fans were treated to a surprise appearance by Sharp’s former Weezer bandmate and estranged friend Rivers Cuomo. The pair performed the newly written track “Time Song” and the Weezer hits “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Say It Ain’t So.”
“It was quite a surreal day,” says Sharp. “I guess it is somewhat of a second act. We started hanging just before that show and started writing at his place and just started rediscovering our friendship and enjoying each other’s company. We decided to try to approach that through writing music, which is kind of how we began. So, it seems like a good way to reintroduce ourselves after we’ve had all of these turbulent waters under the bridge.”
Sharp Sails Solo On New Set