On the Record: Baytown’s Island

A music-filled chat with Matt Cooke of Baytown on their new release, Island.

on the record baytown

 

Baytown’s new sophomore album, Island, is a blend of “upbeat new blend of reggae, funk and pop.” Vocalist Matt Cooke sent in these answers from the road — the band just showcased at the ECMAs in PEI, as part of a recent tour of all the Atlantic provinces. “Our style of music has evolved through writing songs as a band. Having sax man Greg Bruce on board for this album has really focused our sound in a fresh way.”

Here’s the first single off the album, “Oasis.”

Is there a song on here that’s a little different for you, or that you questioned including?

I don’t know if a band is ever completely satisfied with every single song they put on an album, and there were a couple of tracks we went back and forth on. I think if you are mostly happy with the songs then you’re doing pretty good. We had some debate over “The Mist.” Sometimes it helps if you just rework the song and figure out what’s not jiving right.

Which one of these songs came out the hardest or was the longest in the crafting? Why?

We spent a lot of time with “Awake.” It has been an acoustic song of mine for a while and I really wanted to transform it to a Baytown tune. So that alone took some time. We added, flute, acoustic guitar, and glockenspiel and Erin Best on accompanying vocals, so it was probably the song with the most studio time involved. We are happy with it and are working on releasing it as another single.

 

Share a random fact about one of your songs on this album, or the album itself.

The song “The Brave” tells a true story about my Grandfather on a ship convoy during the Second World War. He saved nearly thirty lives by swimming to save stranded soldiers after their ship hit a mine. No one knew of the incident until the 1990s when a member of the crew came looking for him. 

 

Name one influence on your approach to songwriting – whether it be a musician or a goal you have in crafting a song.

I try to write constantly. Whenever the feeling comes to form a chord progression, verse, or entire song, Ill just go for it. If you write one good one at the end of the week, you’re doing pretty well. And sometimes pieces/lyrics/progressions of “unused” songs can work with a new idea.  A good song usually takes multiple sessions to get where you want it.

What’s a new album you’ve been loving lately?

Arcade Fire’s latest has been on heavy rotation. Sherman Downey’s latest has some very catchy tunes on there.  We all have varying music tastes but I think we all dig hearing new sounds and it’s a pretty groovin’ playlist on tour. 

There are many ways to evaluate a song. But for you, what’s one trait that makes a great song a great song? Name a song you love that fits that bill.

In general a good song is one that makes you feel emotion when you hear it. Whether it’s the groove you automatically fall in from hearing “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac or the laid back feeling you get from a Kendrick Lamar track, a great song hits you, and you’re like: thank you for that.

Other than music, name something else you love. 

As a band we love to have a good time. It’s great to be in a band with not only great players, but people you are good friends with too. It’s not like we party super hard all the time, but it’s never a boring time on the road or after shows. I think after a year of working on the album, we are all excited to share the music and rock some shows.

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