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An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin McCarthy has two feature films in development: “Wonder Drug” with director Tom Gilroy (“Spring Forward”); and “Resistance” with director Si Wall (“The Dinner Party,” premiering November 2010). She also has a TV series treatment, “Free Skate,” which is currently being considered by top production companies.
Lightning Strikes Twice for NELSON
Part Two of a Three Part Feature on NELSON by Caitlin McCarthy
Welcome back! This portion of my interview with Matthew Nelson is breathtakingly honest. He talks about NELSON’s loyal fanbase, as well as his three wishes for LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE. Some of his comments will surprise you.
Matthew also mentions that he’s interested in learning more about social networking. Share your thoughts about creative outreach through new technologies below. And who knows – maybe you’ll be the one who gets to chat further with Matthew about this hot topic.
Caitlin McCarthy (CM): I saw NELSON play 20 years ago at the Citi Club in Boston. I remember your brother Sam was in the audience.
CM: You gave a shout-out to Sam from the stage, and all of these girls whipped their heads around, looking for him: “Where’s Sam? Where’s Sam?” It was hysterical. And then Gunnar threw out guitar picks. A group of girls started glaring at me. I didn’t know why until I got home and discovered that one of the picks had fallen down my shirt. (Caitlin laughs.)
MN: Was it pink or green?
CM: It was pink.
CM: I do!
MN: I remember the Citi Club. That’s the weird thing. I still remember every show I’ve played. Still to this day, it doesn’t matter what kind of music I’m doing or what style – a NELSON rock show, a SCRAP METAL show, or a RICKY NELSON REMEMBERED tribute show – I remember every audience at every show. I think that’s the coolest thing.
I wish you, or anybody that you’re writing to, or anybody who’s ever come to see me play – that you, just for a minute, could live inside my head and see the wealth of experience, exploration, and human interaction that I’ve had. It’s really cool, to be honest with you. The best part of what I do is that I get back as much or more from the people that I work with – mainly, the audience. And I give one hundred and ten percent.
CM: Social networking has revolutionized the way bands can communicate with their fans and share videos, news, and music. How do you plan on reaching out to fans with this new album?
MN: Gunnar and I were just talking about this yesterday. There literally are kids that are unbelievably savvy with the social networking thing. I always tell Gunnar that I think we’re still too old school, and that we have to be a little less resistant to change, but still be ourselves and do what we do. I would love to talk with a kid, maybe in high school or college, who really gets it. I’ve already talked to my friend in Lifehouse. They’re geniuses with social networking.
The greatest part about social networking is that people who are into you, following you, or whatever, can find out what you’re doing at all times…the good *and* the bad things. I still want to preserve my personal life, and my ability to live a life and stuff like that. However, when I’m working, I give one hundred and ten percent. You know, I’m not going to be around forever, so I want to make sure that what I leave behind is something that I’m proud and hopefully is a legacy that people will remember.
I want to enlist a younger group of people who might have a little bit more knowledge about how social networking works. I’m all for learning. That’s the greatest part of doing what I do. Music is the international language. You’re never quite there as a musician. I’m always growing every day. That’s what makes my job great. Every day is different. There are a lot of jobs where you just don’t get that. It is what it is every day and it’s a paycheck every Friday.
So I guess what I give up…I give up an amount of certainty, because I just never know what the next day is going to bring at a show or the next month as far as income or whatever. I don’t have that. But I gain a tremendous amount of freedom. That’s the tradeoff.
CM: If three wishes for LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE could be granted, what would they be?
MN: The first one is that people understand what we are trying to accomplish with it, which is a modern retro album. In other words, that we get it and I hope they do, too.
The second wish…quite frankly, I truly hope that the American distribution for this album gets its act together and gets it out there. As of now, they haven’t done a tremendous job. It’s on iTunes. They’re helping out and all that kind of stuff. But frankly, there’s not much we [NELSON] can do after a certain point if the powers-that-be don’t do their job. We licensed this album to them. We own it. It’s just they get to run with it for a few years. If they don’t, they don’t.
The third wish is that NELSON gets to play at least a few shows that are like the one we just played in Nottingham, England, when we headlined a thing called Firefest. It was something that honestly hadn’t happened to me since the AFTER THE RAIN tour. But it was different, because it wasn’t fourteen to eighteen year old girls screaming like jet engines. I don’t remember a time, because we didn’t have one, when there were guys dressed in NELSON t-shirts jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics of our songs back to us. They came from places like Brazil, Japan, France, from all over the world for this one melodic rock festival that we headlined. It was nuts. I would love to do a couple more of those shows and then I’d be happy for this one album.
The fact is, it’s not the eighties. It’s not 1985, where Bon Jovi’s playing at Philly Spectrum and Cinderella’s opening. It’s not. We know that. We get it. It’s okay. We understand it. But this album’s a lot of fun if you let yourself have fun with it. It’s a good album. There are some great songs on it. I’m really proud of my brother’s guitar playing on it. I think Gunnar never got a chance, actually, to be taken seriously as an actual musician because – let’s face it – we looked like hot Swedish chicks back then. I remember back in the day, I said in an interview, “Well, Sebastian Bach is a whole lot prettier than we are.” I meant it as a compliment, and he was pissed! It was like, Come on. Get over it.
Obviously we’re older. Everybody’s older. But music is still really fun. And musically speaking, we’re doing a bunch of different projects that are very focused for what they are. This album [LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE] is very focused for what it is. That makes me happy.
I’m happy if people become fans of “Matt and Gunnar” and all that we do, and want to get involved in the different projects that we have. If they see a NELSON rock show, we’re going to give them the best rock show that we can possibly do. If they come and see SCRAP METAL, same thing. If they see a RED 37 show, which is my side project, they’re going to get something completely different. It’s more like a KINGS OF LEON meets DISHWALLA.
I’m doing stuff and Gunnar’s doing stuff now that’s really fun because we get a chance to be true musicians. Gunnar actually played with Cat Stevens two years ago. Avril Lavigne wanted me to play with her. I was working with Gunnar, but it was nice to be asked. It’s just nice that at this point in our lives, twenty years after the fact, I think we’ve turned a corner.
We have a great fanbase of people who are really loyal. But also, we’re starting to come into our own as musicians and songwriters. We’re getting a chance to work with people that we love and respect. It’s a lot of fun still. At the end of the day, if you love what you’re doing, keep doing it – that’s what my dad used to say. I totally agree with that. There are definitely ways of making and keeping more money than what I’m doing. But I do it because I get so much back from the experiences that I have and I genuinely love playing. And I love the people who love music. That’s what it’s all about….
Stay tuned for Part Three – the final installment – of the Three Part Feature on NELSON!
(photos: Brian Lowe Photography, Caitlin McCarthy, NelsonKicksAss.com)