Indie-punk duo Matt and Kim, featuring Matt Johnson on vocals and Kim Schifino on drums, have been celebrated for their high-energy, rule-breaking live performances. The band hit the McDonough Field stage last year as the 2019 Dooley’s Ball opener.
In the fall of this year, the duo embarked on “Grand,” a 10-year anniversary tour, to play their 2009 sophomore album, “Grand.”
The Emory Wheel sat down with Johnson to discuss the significance of “Grand,” how to cope with negativity and what the future holds for Matt and Kim.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Gaby Blade, The Emory Wheel: For those who are unfamiliar with the band, how would you describe a typical Matt and Kim show?
Matt Johnson: I would describe it as not what you would think it would be. If you are unfamiliar or just know “Daylight” and “Let’s Go,” you might think it’d be a typical indie show where people bop their heads. Instead, we try to get people to mosh and crowd surf, and Kim’s shaking her butt most of the time. There’s tons of confetti, and we’re dropping DaBaby songs in the middle of our other songs. There are all kinds of things I don’t think you would expect from an indie band. But energy — that’s what we go for.
TEW: How do you keep yourself energized when performing such dynamic shows?
MJ: Ok, have you heard of Jelly Belly Sport Beans? They are caffeinated jelly beans and we just hit those real hard. No, I mean it is true we do have Sport Beans on the rider, but I don’t know what they do. We always joke like, “Alright, we have to take 10 Sport Beans before we go on stage.” For us, it’s completely the audience’s energy that keeps us going. It’s like being a comedian and having the audience laugh really loud. Their energy, just totally fuels us.
TEW: On your newest tour, you are playing the entirety of your album “Grand” live. What does the album mean to you, and what inspired the choice to go on an anniversary tour?
MJ: The album changed our lives. We made that album in a bedroom; we never thought we’d have a platinum record from it. It was a complete accident. And 10 years only comes by once. By the time 20 years comes, we’ll probably all be dead anyway, given the way the world is working. We really just had to do it now. It was now or never.
TEW: How has it felt to play “Grand” live?
MJ: It’s been great. It’s really only the first third of our set. I call it the warm-up for the rest of our set. For us, we usually orchestrate our set more like a DJ would or more like a festival vibe — try to turn it up to 11 the whole time. Some of the songs slow it down a little bit. It’s a different thing than we’ve ever done, and we’ve been forced to take some songs and reinvent them. “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” has also been a fan favorite of ours, but we kept bringing it in and out of the set. Now we’ve beefed it up, and we put a J Balvin song right in the middle of it.
TEW: Your most recent album, “Almost Everyday,” is much more personal than your previous work. Can you talk about the significance of this album?
MJ: When we were writing it, it was right after Kim had torn her ACL. There was a lot of stuff happening politically in the world. There was just a lot of negativity in our lives, and we didn’t feel like making an upbeat, fun record. Not to say it is not danceable, but it had a darker tinge. I think after we came out the other side of that record and Kim started getting better, we recognized that the s**t that was pissing us off in the world isn’t gonna last forever because we’ll all be dead in 20 years anyway. We just felt good about being upbeat and fun again. I’m so happy we made that album, and it was therapeutic in many ways.
TEW: I’m loving the nihilism about the state of our world.
MJ: I say that, but of course I think everyone should fight for what they want to happen. The one thing I think is that you shouldn’t let it bring you down every single day. Do your part, go and vote or go to a protest, but don’t let it put a wet blanket on everything.
TEW: In October, you released two singles: “GO GO” and “Money.” Can Matt and Kim fans expect more new music soon?
MJ: I don’t think there’s a new album in the works. We’re working on songs; we’ve got some good collaborations we’re working on. We’re six albums in. I’m not in a rush to put out a new album, and I don’t even know if there needs to be a new album. We feel inspired to make music we love, and we’ll put it out there in the world. I just think as it comes, it’ll happen.
Matt and Kim will perform at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points on Nov. 16 with opener The Frights.