Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Deeper Dish with Matt Alber
I've never met Matt Alber, but on the phone, he certainly comes across as one of the nicest and most down-to-earth guys you could ever meet. You just want to be his friend - which is probably a good quality for a performer to possess. And then there is Matt's music from his debut album, Hide Nothing, which is almost hypnotic in its lush dreaminess. Listening to him sing is a very soothing experience, and if you don't believe me, go to his website right now at www.mattalber.com and let his angelic voice flow over you with such tunes as "Monarch", "Slow Club" and "End of the World". Trust me, he will put you in a groovy mood.
The openly gay singer-songwriter grew up singing in choirs and began his professional music career as a soprano in the classical men's ensemble, Chanticleer. During his five years with the group, they recorded seven albums - two of which won Grammy Awards. In 2003, he was a contestant on TV's Star Search, and although he didn't win, this led to his decision to pursue a solo career as a country western singer-songwriter. Matt was soon cast in American Pride, an MTV reality show to find the first out and proud male country singer, and while he was waiting around for the series to happen (it never did), he began to write some songs, which eventually became Hide Nothing. And last year, his incredibly romantic music video of "End of the World" won the OUT Music Awards Video of the Year and was chosen as the #1 gay music video of 2009 by the website, After Elton.
Matt continues to be an extremely busy guy, performing solo concerts all over the country as well as in Los Angeles with his own band, Matt Alber & His Gentlemen Callers. Until recently, he was also the director of Forever Young Chorale, a choir in L.A. for gay seniors, but now he is in the process of forming a new senior singing group as well as developing a TV show about them (which he's pitching to LOGO). And that's not all - but you will have to read my interview with the talented Mr. Alber to learn what else he's up to.
Let's begin with Hide Nothing. What was your inspiration for the album?
This is a collection of very personal songs - the first ones that I ever wrote - so I had a lot to say. Many of the songs are secrets that I hadn't told anyone. They're about nature, kid crushes in the 4th grade, epic stories from ancient Greece - lots of different inspirations.
If I asked you to sing one song from Hide Nothing right now, which one would you choose?
"Field Trip Buddy" - it's about a crush I had as a kid in the 4th grade. We would go on field trips, which was an excuse to get out of school and hold hands with a boy - your buddy for the day. It was the greatest day of school - and the song is about a 10-year-old with butterflies in his stomach.
How did you and Tom Goss end up writing and recording together the song, "Who We Are?"
I flew to D.C to begin a tour with Tom, and he was driving me around and showing me all the sights. As we drove by the Capitol building, a story about Don't Ask, Don't Tell came on NPR, and I turned to him and said that we should write a song about DADT. By the next day it was written, and the following day we recorded it in front of the Capitol with two discharged service members.
What is the most memorable moment you have had while performing?
I got to perform at Fort Lauderdale's Sunshine Cathedral, where they filled up the stage with lots of candles - it was great and quite memorable. And two weeks ago I performed with The Orange County Gay Men's Chorus, Men Alive, and they all sang my song, "End of the World", which was incredible. I'm now working with David Maddux to arrange an evening of my songs to perform with gay men's choruses around the country, and I'm hoping to begin this tour by the end of the year.
What is the first thing that pops into your mind when I mention Star Search?
Wow, that was a long time ago. Due to Star Search, I was approached by a producer who was developing American Pride, but it never materialized. And this led me to begin writing a different kind of music - the music in my heart - so I left behind becoming the next Tim McGraw. But I still enjoy country-western dancing.
A choir geek
My favorite comfort food is:
The last good book I read was:
Inner Work by Robert A. Johnson
When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
The Price Is Right and Knight Rider - I loved the Trans Am.
Today I never miss a television episode of:
Modern Family - that show is amazing.
The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume 1
If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Jonsi, my brother Bryce Alber and his band, Wreck & Slender (he's working on a solo album right now), Parker Ainsworth, and Gustav Holst's The Planets.
If I was asked to choose the Sexiest Man Alive (besides my boyfriend), it would be:
If I'm not allowed to say my boyfriend [sorry, boys, he's taken], the next Sexiest Man Alive would be Sam Worthington. I went to see Clash of the Titans last night, and he's a fine specimen.
Three of my favorite movies are:
Lars and the Real Girl, the Disney film, UP - I took my choir to see it in 3D and we were almost kicked out of the theater. They wouldn't stop talking - "Wow, look at that!" And the classic '80s film, Jumpin' Jack Flash.
If I could have anyone in the world--living or dead--be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
My favorite poet, Hafiz - who was a contemporary of Chaucer's - Martin Luther King, Jr. and my Grandpa Albert. I never got to meet him since he died before I was born.
What's next for Matt Alber?
I'm working on a new album right now, which will be a performance art piece. I will be exploring what it means to be gay - there's a lot more to it than who we sleep with.
Thank you, Matt, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about the man and his music, check out Matt's website at www.mattalber.com and his YouTube channel. You can also become a Facebook fan or follow him on Twitter. And, finally, if you sing with a gay men's chorus that might be interested in performing with Matt, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.