MP3 Matt Stamm - Where Do We Go - EP
Piano rock/pop with catchy melodies and deep, meaningful lyrics.
5 MP3 Songs in this album (18:30) !
Related styles: POP: Piano, ROCK: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
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Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Matt Stamm may prefer to tickle the ivories when it comes to making his music – just listen to his new EP, Where Do We Go, for proof – but in today’s musical climate, where it sometimes feels like any Manny, Moe, or Jack’s Mannequin can sit down in front of a piano and pound out a hit single, it’s nice to know that there are still a few musicians out there who can actually play more than one instrument.
Stamm has been training for life in the music biz for as long as he can remember. “I was in the All-County Chorus when I was in grade school, I played saxophone from fifth through ninth grades, and I took piano lessons from ages seven through eleven,” says Stamm. “It feels like I’ve always been involved in music in one form or another.”
Despite such a promising start, it wasn’t until his freshman year of college that Stamm began pursuing an actual career in music…and, frankly, he blames peer pressure. “There was a big gap when sports took over for me,” explains Stamm. “All of my friends were joining sports teams, and you’re either in band or you’re on the football team; I opted for athletics at that point, and I didn’t just have time for the music lessons anymore. I wish I stayed on track; I’d probably be in a different place right now.”
Still, Stamm hadn’t given up on music altogether. At 17, he began teaching himself to play guitar, which came in handy upon his arrival at Boston University for his freshman year, and, accordingly, his first team-up was with his college roommate, Charlie Diego. “Meeting Charlie, getting to know him, and having him always playing guitar…there was always music in the room, so we just naturally fell into playing together and writing together,” explains Stamm. “He was definitely the impetus for my getting starting again in a big way.”
Stamm and Diego began performing for the people in their dorm, giving Stamm his first real experience playing before an audience. The collaboration between the roommates inspired Stamm to try working with other musicians as well; one such partnership resulted in the formation of The Perfect Candidates, with fellow singer/songwriter Jon Hartstone. “Jon and I really took it up to the next level,” says Stamm. “I had all these songs I’d written, he had his own songs, and we liked what each other had done, so when we started playing out, he’d put a guitar part or a harmony on one of my songs, I’d do the same for his, and we were able to put together a set list with our existing material.”
The life of The Perfect Candidates was relatively brief but consistently educational, particularly during the recording of their EP, American Hot, which was done with hired guns playing bass and drums for the duo. Although the recording process itself was a lot of fun, Stamm admits that the final result was stricken with a nasty case of overproduction. “We were attempting to make a huge-sounding record, and…well, basically, we filled every single square iota of tape space with whatever idea we had, and I learned a very valuable lesson: sometimes, less is more.”
It wasn’t until Stamm and Hartstone moved from Boston to Miami and teamed with the Faulkner brothers – Mike and Bruce, who played bass and drums, respectively – that The Perfect Candidates began touring behind the EP in earnest. Hartstone, however, soon returned to Boston, which gave Stamm the opportunity to play the frontman, a role he quickly learned to relish; he also found a new collaborator in Hartstone’s replacement, guitarist Mark Kondrat, now a member of the Latin-Grammy-nominated band Locos Por Juana. Unfortunately, it soon became evident to Stamm that Miami was not the best locale for a band like The Perfect Candidates; worse, the rest of the band didn’t offer much enthusiasm to his suggestion that they relocate to New York City.
“They were pretty deeply rooted in the area,” explains Stamm, “and they didn’t want to leave. But I was serious about continuing with the music. I mean, when Jon left, I had become the frontman, and not only was I playing rhythm guitar, but I was also adding an element of organ to some songs, and I’d also bought a stage piano. So when I left, I got right into my stuff, concentrating almost solely on piano songs.”
Stamm’s debut solo album was recorded with assistance of his former bandmate, Mark Kondrat. “I stayed at Mark’s house and we recorded it his home studio,” says Stamm. “In fact, he co-produced it; I had all the songs, but we both came up with the arrangement and instrumentation. My collaborations with Mark always seem to result in strong material.”
Indeed, the resulting album – 2005’s I Could Be Happy Here – served two purposes: it provided Stamm with the opportunity to tour behind a product of which he was extremely proud, and it enabled him to attract the attention of a new manager (Aimee Berger), as well as new songwriting collaborators like Arnie Roman and Russ DeSalvo. “I’m ecstatic to be working with A-list guys like Russ and Arnie,” says Stamm. “I feel like it’s a real step up for me.”
Stamm has developed a solid following as a live performer; he regularly draws sizable audiences as he plays in venues around New York City, including The Bitter End, The Lion’s Den, Makor, and The Living Room. In addition to his solo career, Stamm also plays keyboards in the band The Rideaways, who spend a considerable amount of time gigging around Manhattan as well. “When I gig,” he says, “one of the best things about it is that I get to gig with some of the best musicians in the city, people who play with Regina Spektor, Gavin DeGraw, and Alexa Rae Joel. It’s pretty cool.”
The crowds in attendance would seem to agree, given how they continue to grow in size. It’s no wonder, though: with 2007’s Where Do We Go EP – which was produced by DeSalvo – Stamm finds himself in the best place he’s ever been as both a writer and a singer. Working so closely with DeSalvo was “an incredibly positive and career-changing experience,” says Stamm. “We’ve developed a strong friendship because of our work together.” As to the material itself, it’s poppier than Stamm’s earlier material, but, vocally, he’s stronger than ever, thanks to having worked with Don Lawrence, a vocal trainer who’s also worked with Bono, Mick Jagger, and Christina Aguilera.
“These songs I’ve been writing have forced me to push my limits,” admits Stamm, “but I love the direction I’m moving in.”
Given the results evident on Where Do We Go, it seems certain that listeners will, too.