It can be a difficult tightrope walk to write and record an authentic, vintage honky tonk song that sounds like it time-traveled to present day.
Well DeLand, Florida’s native son Matt Burke does a damn good job towing that line.
His upcoming single, “Missed My Chance,” which drops September 21st, tells the classic tale of a star-crossed lover going out to drink their heartache away, but in a fun twist, ends up having so much fun they forget all about it. Burke reproduces that 70s-era honky tonk country essence, while maintaining a modern feel simultaneously.
Since 2010, Burke has been writing and releasing music with his full band project- The Matt Burke Band. In 2018, Burke suffered a painful loss when his dear friend and musical partner Leona Ellis lost her life unexpectedly. Ellis played keys for the band, and the pair had grown up together in Florida public school band programs since middle school. Ellis’ passing marked the end of The Matt Burke Band era, and the beginning of a renewed focus on songwriting as a solo artist for Burke.
Burke is currently writing and recording material for his upcoming debut solo album, which is being produced and recorded in Nashville. His new songs show sophistication and maturity as a singer-songwriter, and can be likened to that of a Jim Croce & Tom Petty. Burke’s songs revolve around common themes such as love, family, traveling, loss and heartbreak, and his soulful, powerful voice leads the charge.
We had the chance to discuss Burke’s immersion into his music career, the new single, Florida, and much more.
So what should potential visitors know about DeLand, Florida, and what’s your favorite part about it other than perhaps family?
Interesting question! How did you know I was from DeLand? It’s a great little town with a beautiful downtown. I do love seeing my mom and my friends from high school every time I’m back home! But outside of that, I’m a big fan of grabbing a burger and a couple of beers out at the Gin Mill by the airport.
And who or what got you into playing and writing music?
I started singing in a children’s choir when I was in 3rd grade, and I wound up being involved in music ever since. In 6th grade I started playing saxophone in the school band, and then got my first acoustic guitar in 7th grade, and started writing songs shortly after. I guess I never stopped!
Do you have a specific atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process, or does it often just happen sporadically?
It used to happen sporadically. I used to have to wait for inspiration to hit. But a couple of years before deciding to move to Nashville, I really devoted time and energy towards studying the craft of songwriting. Now that I live in Nashville, it’s become much easier to write on a schedule: make tea, sit down at the computer with the guitar close by, and get to work.
So your newest single, “Missed My Chance”, drops September 21st. What’s the inspiration and influence behind this track?
“Missed My Chance” is about the first night you go out to drink your heartache away, but you end up having such a good time that you forget to be heartbroken. I was trying to reproduce 1970’s-era honky-tonk country: I wanted it to feel both old and new simultaneously.
Can fans expect to see it on an EP or LP, or is it a standalone single for now?
Oh yes- all of my releases will be bundled together as EP’s moving forward. I plan to drop a couple of singles, then an EP, a couple more singles, another EP, and keep on going until somebody notices, haha.
Where did you record it and who was involved?
I recorded it at 8080 Studios in East Nashville with my producer Jason Bobo. Jason was a new transplant to Nashville like myself, who I met when I first moved to town and we hit it off really well! He and I share similar influences, and he’s really been instrumental in helping me achieve my new sound. Plus he played the killer solos you hear on “Missed My Chance.” I’m lucky to have him!
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process?
Good question. I think it’s helped in the sense that it’s allowed me to put more energy into my upcoming releases, since touring and gigging are largely on hold. It’s also made me schedule more co-writes since I can do more virtually. However, that’s been a double-edged sword, because I don’t really LOVE writing virtually. I much prefer an in-person write.
If you could have a drink (doesn’t have to be alcoholic) or a smoke with one of your living idols and pick their brain, who might it be?
John Paul White. As a songwriter, he is my biggest inspiration. His lyrics and storytelling, his melodies and chord choices- I just love everything about him. Plus, he went from The Civil Wars being hugely successful, to having a hugely successful solo career, so that’s inspirational as well.
So how long have you been in Nashville?
I just celebrated my one year anniversary on September 2nd!
And what top three Nashville establishments might Matt Burke be found frequenting?
You can catch me every Wednesday night in Franklin at Tony’s Eat And Drink for my weekly residency. Likewise, I’m at The Hampton Social downtown every Sunday night for another weekly residency- their Frozé is AMAZING! And lastly, my absolute favorite spot to hang on Broadway pre-pandemic was Robert’s Western World- fried bologna and PBR baby!
What might fans expect from Matt Burke to close out the year?
I’ve got lots of stuff in the hopper: I’ve got six live performance videos ready to release to support my next six single releases, and my producer and I have 13 total songs we’re currently working on. I’m also getting very close to releasing the first single from a collaborative project I’ve been working on with my good friend Brian Allison- another very talented singer-songwriter from Chicago. There’s lots of exciting stuff happening between now and the end of the year!