Award-winning musician Scott Matthews talks to Sarah Probert about finding his mojo and why his Midland home is the best place to record his latest album.
Songwriter Scott Matthews has spent the last few months singing in his bathroom, strumming a few notes in his lounge and performing just about anywhere he can around his Wolverhampton home.
The Ivor Novello Award-winning musician even has a Dictaphone next to his toilet should he have a sudden burst of inspiration at a particularly inopportune moment.
“You sing a lot freer at home,” he says, as he explains why he has chosen his humble abode rather than a music studio to record his fourth album.
“It’s like when you are singing in the shower, you can let go a lot more than you can when you are in a studio.
“The fourth record is more stripped back. I am recording it at home for a more organic approach. I have worked with some great producers and I have been fortunate enough to go to some top drawer studios – there is a real edginess about them. But I also like being my own boss.
“I am trying to use different rooms of the house – there is a nice ambience in the toilet.
“And yes, I have a Dictaphone in the toilet in case I get caught short,” he adds, laughing.
It is fortunate that Scott has some understanding neighbours, although he does admit to occasionally “getting the Marshalls out and cranking it up to 11”.
He is now hoping to test songs from his new album on audiences at gigs around the UK next month, which includes a sell out show at Birmingham’s Glee Club.
“It is important because at that point I will still be road testing songs I am about to record and it will be a good chance to test the water with new material,” he says.
“I have never got fans’ reactions to songs before they have been recorded so it will be an interesting path,” he explains.
“There is guitar, vocals, cello a bit of flute,” he says, describing the “stripped down” feel to the album. “I am keeping it pretty earthy.”
The 37-year-old’s influences include Crosby, Stills and Nash and he says he is currently obsessed by Simon and Garfunkel.
Scott was plunged into the music limelight following the release of his debut album, Passing Stranger, in 2006 for which he picked up the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for debut single Elusive.
The single got plenty of airplay from radio DJs and he recorded a live session for Radio 1.
“There was this momentum and it felt really exciting and unnerving as well. I was thrust into this world that was alien to me,” says Scott.
His second album Elsewhere, which included a guest appearance from fellow Black Country man and musical legend Robert Plant, failed to attract the same enthusiasm, although Scott has retained a loyal fanbase.
His third album, What The Night Delivers, included a guest appearance from the legendary bass player Danny Thompson and in between recordings Scott has toured the world.
But he has never been tempted to leave his Wolverhampton home.
“I can’t quite get away – it pulls me back,” he says of his home town.
“I am very fortunate to travel all over the world but you can’t beat that familiar feeling of getting home and being somewhere you can take a load of your shoulders.
“Wolverhampton is all that I have known, I have a lot of family here and they keep you rooted. I never felt the urge to go to London – I wasn’t fussed about that at all.”
Scott picked up a guitar at the age of seven and performed in numerous bands during his days at Highfields School in Wolverhampton.
He studied graphic design at Stourbridge Art College before moving on to pursue his musical career but his passion for art hasn’t waned and several pieces of his artwork adorn the walls of his home, including a portrait of Tom Waits.
Now keen to knock out his fourth album, Scott admits it has taken some time to pull the latest offering together.
“It feels like it has been a pretty slow 18 months just trying to chip away at the new record and taking a lot longer than I anticipated but hopefully the good things come to those who wait,” he says.
“I have been finding my mojo. It comes in cycles.
“I need to put all the pieces in place and put the record out and be a little bit more prolific. I am like a steaming pot of casserole, I do feel the need to stew for ages.”
* Scott Matthews will be performing at The Glee Club, Birmingham on Sunday, which is sold out, Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury on Tuesday, which is also sold out and The Glee Club, Nottingham, on April 28.