Brock Mattsson Talks Tender New Single ‘Rather Be With You’, Canadian Country Roots, & More

When your grandfather is a country music artist, there’s a damn good chance you just might follow suit.

Such is the case with Prince Edward Island-based traditional country artist Brock Mattsson who’s harnessed a similar influence to his granddad Larry Mattsson.

The younger Mattsson has been making honest, smooth, and sorrowful country music for awhile now, and emerged on the scene with the release of his debut album, The Child I Once Was, in 2014. And now, is following his July 2020 single, “Are You Thinking Of Me?,” with the heartfelt country crooner tune, “Rather Be With You” – available on all streaming platforms now.

He has worked on both his recent singles with friend and engineer Cohen Wylie of The Crowleys. Wylie was able to help Mattsson build a familiar world for the listener: sitting in a divey juke joint with peanut shells on a sticky floor and a pedal steel guitar whining in the background, all the while thinking about the one that got away. A most classic country music scene, and what’s emulated in the lonesome new song.

Free shipping and the guaranteed lowest price as

Before Mattsson gets on the road to The Maritimes where his family’s country roots began, we got to chat with him to discuss his new single, his Canadian country roots, and much more.

So how has the year treated you so far?

2022 has been a great year for myself personally. I just turned 30 years young, and I feel like my life has just started weirdly enough. Moved from a big loft apartment in North Bay I stumbled into where I was lucky enough to host music events and parties with friends and family. Now I’m in Summerside, PEI, and excited to continue music out here. I also got a dog who I was waiting to get for a few years now, his name is Orange Dog or O.D. for short and he’s an Ibizan Hound and I just love him so much.

I was also lucky enough to book a tour with my good pal Fraser, and we just ended that tour recently, and still feeling the blues from it. Was great to get back on the road and play for new and old peers. Being at a standstill with music for the past couple of years it feels great writing and playing and learning music again. 

I see your grandpa, Larry Mattsson, was a Canadian country music songwriter. What is/was your relationship like with him, and how much of an influence did he have on your musical pursuit?

My grandfather might be the reason we’re talking today. One year on my Dad’s birthday, he came over with a Squire Stratocaster and a Marshall 15 watt amp. From there, he taught me how to play chords, and after that I learned tabs online and just taught myself guitar. As years went on I ended up living with him and my grandmother in a house, and we’d jam and strum old tunes playing on the TV and radio. He’s been a huge influence to me for country music and we still keep in touch on holidays and such. But the years I lived with him were the best. I learned a lot about him and his music and country music living with him. I’d show him records my friends put out and he’d tell me how he used to play with some of the studio session players.

I’m also currently trying to get his mastered tapes to digital so I can put them on Spotify and other platforms for everyone to hear. His voice is too good and songs are too beautiful for everyone not to hear. 

What does a day in the life of Brock Mattsson’s songwriting process look like?

I always love finding out artists’ writing processes. I find it super interesting how everyone does different things to obtain the same goals in songwriting, which is write a great song, so I’m very much excited you asked this question. 

How I started writing songs for anyone new or looking to break any writer’s block. Everyday I would write down poetry or write a song just to get words on paper. There was no real pattern to it, just put something on paper and completed to some sense. There were a lot of songs I didn’t like at all, but it helped find my strengths and weaknesses in writing, so from there I just read more books and used a thesaurus to expand on ideas and words. 

Songwriting for me now is always personal- I find myself writing about things happening in my life day to day or even goals or dreams I have. I feel connected to the song and also feel it becomes more relatable for others as maybe they’re going through something similar. Lately I’ve been writing about others in my life, and what’s happening around them, as I only have so many life events and situations I can write about personally. I’ve always found writing lyrics first worked and works for me, but I do know others that focus on guitar first and then let the words come into focus for them. 

So you recently dropped your new single, “Rather Be With You.” What’s the inspiration and back story behind it?

“Rather Be With You” I wrote back when I just moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 2015. It’s sort of a love song about fantasizing about being with someone else. There was a woman I went on a few dates with and we had fun and kept in touch. We thought we’d try and maybe do long distance but that ended quickly once we found out about flights from Toronto to Edmonton! So after we ended things, I started going out again and just wished it would have continued, and just found myself comparing them to other women. 

The song has a great laid-back traditional country vibe to it. Who are some artists or influences you try to emulate or that inspire your sound most?

I grew up listening to country music my whole life. My Dad actually converted my Mom to a huge country fan, and we listen to all the 90’s artists. We often had the radio playing Reba, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, etc. 

I actually got made fun of as a kid for liking country music as it wasn’t “cool”- pop music was making a huge wave on the radio then. I always listened to country in secret from then on, and it wasn’t until my Dad showed me Merle Haggard that I truly fell in love with country music. And from there, I just went into a deep dive listening to all the old stars like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Don Willams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and George Jones. 

Once I heard George Jones I just became obsessed, and then eventually got a Possum tattoo as I loved him so much and his extremely sad and crazy life. I’d say he’s my biggest inspiration to keep the slow traditional country going. The way he just pulls at your heart strings and makes you want to shed a tear- I live for it. So a lot of my songwriting comes from him as well as my grandfather.

What’s the country music scene like where you are, and Canada as a whole for that matter?

Recently moving to Prince Edward Island, I’m for sure new to the scene here, but I know traditional country, bluegrass music and shanties are popular out here. Excited to explore more and meet more musicians to play with and go see live. There’s also a massive country festival on the island in Cavendish that’s very popular. I’m excited to check out this summer. 

Growing up in Canada, if you were playing and touring no matter where you went or who you met, you were connected in some way. It’s the same now wherever you gig- somebody you’re playing with or have hired to play is connected to someone you know. It’s a tight community and I love it. Everyone is always trying to help each other out.

What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?

Success for me is for sure different from someone who may be doing it full-time. But like any musician, being able to do it full-time is the goal. Right now in my life, success for me is writing a song and having someone connect to it, and sing along at a concert or even cover it and publish it online. I find it very wholesome that I was able to write something that connected to someone, and maybe it’s their song to calm them down or help recover after a tough breakup. That’s where I feel success- after writing a song and putting it out into the world. 

What does a dream gig look like for you?

Oh boy, this is tough. I think about this a lot from time to time. I think playing or opening for a hero you aspire to be like in music would be really cool. But ultimately, I think a dream gig for me would be having a bill of my best friends playing alongside me, either opening for me or I’m opening for them. And playing at Massey Hall or the Danforth Music Hall for all my friends and family, and really living in the moment of the songs and playing off everyone’s energy in the room. 

If you could tour and open for any present-day artist, who would it be and why?

This is also a tough question. I have so many artists I love both big and small that I adore their songwriting and music, and would just love to be in the green room singing and jamming with them while on tour every night. Currently I feel Richard Inman or Vincent Neil Emerson would be who I’d love to tour with. Their music and songwriting would be incredible to see every night. 

What are some of your goals – whether musically or otherwise – for the rest of the year?

This year is drawing very close to its end and it’s been a great year. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed learning and growing a lot as a person. My goals this year are trying to get a few writing residencies for next year to gain new writing experiences, and also to get my studio setup for the first time to get all these songs I have on paper out in the soundwaves of the world. Really hoping and looking to do this full-time now. Music has been on my back-burner for too long and it needs to be put back into drive.

Photo by Jessica Cowan

Leave a Reply