With all the live music coming into Frisco these day’s, we’re taking time to get to know some of the artists who have been playing in your favorite spots around town. Today, we sit down with Matthew Bell.
A North Texas native, Matthew is a artist who believes in connecting people through his songs, lyrics, and stories, and he is not afraid to talk about his family, life, and God. Matthew believes that music is about people and a performance is about making a true connection. Human experience is the key to his music and it shows through his lyrics as well as his stage presence.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Matthew Bell before he went on stage, and we got to talk about several topics including the growth of the Frisco Music Scene.
Lifestyle Frisco: First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. How long have you been playing music?
Matthew Bell: I guess to answer that question, I have been involved in music all my life. However pursing this “Matthew Bell” thing, probably the last three years.
LF: You currently play with Jarod Schmitt and Daron Denniston. Have you always played with them or is that something new?
MB: Off stage, I have always played with my family, but everything that has happened organically. I remember when my uncle and I were jamming out one afternoon, and he said, “I think I can get us booked at a place.” He worked us in between sets at a place called Arcade Bar in 2008. I remember I played solo once when he couldn’t make it to the show, and I realized that I could do this on my own so it became easier for me to book gigs. I love collaborating, though, and seeing the flow and vibe of working with people I know like my family.
LF: In 2014, you released your first EP, “The Vagabond Diaries.” Where did the title for that album come from?
MB: I had the music or songs written and my wife and I were listening to the album and saw the song progression and it all made sense. The songs are kinda a part of this story of a wayward traveler.
LF: How do you write your songs… what’s the process?
MB: It all depends on the songs of course, but I usually have a story or a concept that I can base the idea off of. I remember I was in Deep Ellum a few years ago and was talking to this guy about his life and things. He told me this line, “She only cries when I sing the blues.” I remember that so well and his story moved me so much those words became a concept for me. Later, I came up with the song ” I Remember (1962)” which is really about that guy and his story. The lyrics I write for the most part, but the construction of the song comes, in large part, from Jarod, my brother-in-law.
LF: Looking at your lyrics and hearing you talk it’s no secret that you are a family man. Do you find it hard to balance both?
MB: Some days are harder than others. I get up at 5:00a.m. everyday regardless of what I am doing. I substitute teach, so at times it takes me all over. Some times I will have a gig that doesn’t end until 1:00 a.m. and than I am back up bright and early. It makes it hard sometimes to have time with my wife and my newborn son because there have been days where I am lucky to have 45 minutes with them. I am lucky, though, because my teaching job does give me some freedom. If I’m home all day and enjoying my family, going to a gig at night is not so bad. My wife does get to come out, support me, and is a huge part of what I do, so it is really great to look out and see my wife and now my son out in the crowd watching. The first song I ever wrote was for her and that was before we were ever dating.
LF: You’ve been working on a new album for some time now… when is it going to be released and can you tell us a little about it?
MB: This summer. I can’t say a date yet, but the goal is summer. This album is a good look at the direction we’re headed in. If I can narrow us down to a specific genre, it moves us towards a Folk/Soul or more of a Family Soul genre. I would say James Brown/Folk/ Gospel. It is not going to be a night and day situation when looking at the last album, but the “next phase” more or less. The further we grow, the more defined we will be.
LF: Based on the sound of your music and seeing you perform songs from Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Mumford, and Sons to Johnny Cash, it seems like you have a lot of influences. Who are some of your influences for your music?
MB: I have a huge Gospel foundation in music… in life really. I should say my foundation is the gospel When I perform with the trio it’s a very cool thing because we feel that no song or genre is off limits. If we like the song than we are going to do it. Growing up I would say that Classic Rock was a staple in my house. I remember everyday Saturday was cleaning day, so my family and I would clean and I can say that these three albums were played on heavy rotation that day. Elton John : Yellow Brick Road, The Beatles : Abby Road and Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan : Family Matters.
LF: Playing all over Texas in the different cities and venues.4 How does the Frisco Music Scene compare to some of the other places you have been?
MB: You look at places like Deep Ellum which has had a music scene since the sixties but it is more of a artistic vibe throughout the town and music is for sure a part of it but just a piece of the pie. Places like Mckinney have some really great venues and local talent as well. What I think is cool to see in Frisco is that more bars, restaurants, festivals are realizing the potential of live music . From a business stand point as well as culturally. And if I can say this without pride, it has been great to be a part of the scene and help it grow. Frisco is right there when it comes to a city that believes in music and is really making it a attraction as well as a part of the fabric of Frisco.
LF: What is your favorite venue to play around town?
MB: Wow! That’s hard because I have played at so many venues and all our different from crowds to sound. I really enjoy playing at Taverna Rossa because of the crowd, and overall energy in the room. I have a place that truly was our favorite but currently…it’s hard to say. I haven’t played at Stan’s yet and am super excited to play on that patio. I would say in Frisco it’s to close to call.
LF: Last question, What is your favorite cover song to play? and original?
MB: Man, that’s another hard one. It differs from day to day and of course how the set is going or the mood I am in. But as far as cover goes, I would say “No Sunshine” especially with the trio. The crowd always get’s into it and that is always fun to see. It’s a song that we can rock it out or we can blues it down and stretch it out for any length of time.
For the original right now it is “I Need You” which is going to be on the new album. The whole song gels really well together. I just really love playing it the more and more I do.