Matt & Kim are well-known for their high-energy shows and positive vibes, but their recordings and performances never preach or cloy. They're all smiles on stage, and even the most cynical of listeners can't help but feel propelled by their warmth and good feelings. Equipped with synthesizer and drums, the duo have played many lofts and houses across the country, jumping from stage to stage and introducing young fans to what a live concert should be. Their music videos are also outrageous and funny, and remind us that the format is still worth producing. Among their best moments are the couple's naked run through Times Square (“Lessons Learned”), guerrilla performances in New York streets (“Block After Block”) and bloody brawl in the midst of rehearsal (“Cameras”).
The dance punk duo's exuberance is born from the sheer happiness of performing on stage, and they would only like for the audience to feel moved by the rousing force of their music. They're currently playing the Honda Civic Tour with Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance, for which they'll be stopping by the Honda Center in Anaheim this Saturday. We spoke to one-half of Matt & Kim as they're traveling across the country.
OC Weekly: You guys are performing in West Palm Beach, FL, tonight. And you have a show tomorrow in Tampa at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. Is that the worst or best name you've heard for a music venue?
Matt: I saw it listed on the itinerary early-on and I thought, “Is that… Are they serious?” [laughs] So many of the naming rights of these amphitheatre venues are wireless or energy companies, but what the hell is 1-800-ASK GARY? What am I asking him? I might have to call when we get there.
Lately, you've been playing large outdoor venues for the Honda Civic Tour. Although you get to reach out to a lot of new fans, how do you feel about losing some of the intimacy of your earlier shows?
It's definitely different. We knew, going into it, what it was going to be like. I mean, we're the first of three on the bill. We knew it was going to be difficult with us playing early and people coming in and getting their seats. Some of them, you know, are in the general admission grass area, all the way to the back and far away. But on the other hand, the shows have been super-fun and people have been positive and excited. I was nervous we weren't gonna be able to connect, but I still have this feeling of connection.
Did you guys ever end up getting a dog for your tour bus?
No, Kim's still working on it, still trying to grind me down. Though if she can train it to use the toilet on the bus, I think we're good to go. I haven't seen that yet, but I have seen this video on YouTube of a dog dancing on its hind legs for three-and-a-half minutes. I now feel like dogs can basically do anything.
The horns off of the song “Cameras” remind me a lot of the horns from Ludacris' “Move Bitch.” The song also has a very hip-hop production feel. Were you guys listening to a lot of rap during the making of the song?
Probably more than any other genre, we're really into Top 40 hip-hop. Actually, after we wrote that song, we could hear that vibe from that Ludacris song. Hence right after the first chorus, we drop it into a bayum, bayum-bayum. The crowd generally picks up on it and is all singing it by the end of that little break. On a lot of songs, we'll throw in a little interlude which brings them in closer. Overall, Kim and I are huge hip-hop fans.
“Cameras” addresses ways in which people are living now, like not living in the moment and mediating lived experiences through technology. How do you feel about people taking photos or video at your shows?
I have two feelings on it. Sometimes you look out into a sea of little lights and cameras. I guess if someone's just videotaping it to immediately put on their Facebook to say, “Hey, look, I was here and you weren't,” I'd rather you just be there and experience it and remember it. But if someone's like “I'm really enjoying this and this is something I want to remember however long from now” and they want to have some sort of documentation of it, I can get behind that.
It's funny because now that we've written that song, Kim and I are actually trying to document new things more. We'd do full tours and take no pictures at all, and while we thought we could remember it all, even five years ago is becoming a little blurry. I think of these bands who have been around for twenty years plus, and I wish we could be a band like that, but will we remember all these early moments?
In the music video for “Cameras,” how much of it was you and Kim actually fighting?
Well, we did training for a couple days before we shot with real fight choreographer dudes who've done 300, The Bourne Identity and The Matrix. While we weren't supposed to be actually hurting each other, in the end, we were completely bruised up. Kim had scarcely punched me in the face as hard as she could to the point where I had a black eye and the first bloody nose of my entire life. We were definitely sore as hell by the time we were done with the shoot even though theoretically, we should've been fine. [laughs] We got a little too into it.
You two take a lot of physical punishment from touring. Any recent injuries for the band?
As two people who theoretically sit down when we play–we both have a stool up there; I sit behind the synth and Kim sits behind the drums–we're jumping up and down on top of stuff more than most bands. Actually, just a few days ago, Kim jumped off her stool and landed on a bottle of beer that she had on the riser and totally twisted her ankle. She's been trying to figure out how to get it back on track. We might actually have to stop by a doctor. But she's tough as nails, and it doesn't slow her down.
In the video for “Block After Block,” you and Kim put on impromptu shows throughout the city. How did people on the street react to those performances?
I remember the first stop in the video was an intersection in Chinatown in Manhattan. Basically, we started the song right in the middle of the intersection and no cars could pass. People started beeping, and I think they were getting kind of pissed, but then people who were just walking past started joining in. In the end, everyone who was watching us seemed to have a smile on their face. Except for when we did the Brooklyn Bridge and we were kind of clogging the whole path, people were getting pissed off. Like the bikers who couldn't push through at all were being really mean. I don't know. I guess New York is on this idea that everything's gotta be on the move, all the time, so “Don't get in my way or I'll knock you down!” But in the end, everyone had a good time.
The song and video for your Converse collaboration “I'm A Goner” feature Andrew WK and Soulja Boy. What was it like working with those two?
Kim and I had never really done a collaboration before, and we're quite particular about what we like. We didn't know if there was going to be headbutting or anything like that. We were the first ones to sign on, and Soulja Boy was one of our first choices and Andrew WK was our next choice. They were a pleasure to work with. It's funny. While our music might sound a bit different, we go for the same feeling, which is music that's fun. All of us were excited about this song, and I thought it was a great success.
Matt & Kim play the Honda Center in Anaheim with Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance as part of the Honda Civic Tour. Sat., Oct. 1, 7 p.m. $20-$84.05. www.mattandkimmusic.com