Interview

w/Matt Munhall

Chad W. Lutz
Driving down I-75 S en route to Tennessee, the serene, pastoral surroundings usurping Matt Munhall’s windows are interrupted by a phone call. The person on the other end of the line is me; I’ve called Matt to talk about his new album, 700 Miles, set to release May 6, but the Appalachians interfere and the line goes dead. I call back, we exchange awkward hypothesis as to what happened, reintroduce ourselves, which is as far as we were able to get before, and then get right to the heart of the thing.

From the very first words we exchanged, it was clear that Matt Munhall is an artist through and through, and a gentleman at that. Not that you can truly gauge the entire scope of a man in a fifty-minute phone call, per say, but that’s neither here nor there. During our phone interview Matt demonstrated the grace, humility, and generosity of spirit that embody what being an artist used to mean. At the core of Matt Munhall is a human being trying to follow a two-decades-old dream that has taken him from a humble, Irish-Catholic upbringing in Columbus, Ohio, to hundreds of venues across the United States.

The new album features songs that touch on the many qualities I discovered in Matt’s personality in the interview. Some of his songs are funny, some weave metaphors with bright, genre-broad rhythms and melodies that lend to so many varying time periods and styles in music you’ll just have to listen to the album yourself to get the full effect. Overall, Matt was appreciative, both for the opportunity to interview, but moreover for his ability to even get as far as he has in his career.

The aim of his songs and art in general, he says, is to take life stories and embellish them a little, tell them better to get at Truth. Truth, as it matters in life, once meant becoming an NBA player to Matt, but he found his passion for songwriting and playing instruments growing up in a household where his parents had pretty heavy backgrounds in music. His father was part of an Irish Do-Whop band called the Emeralds for a time before marrying and giving birth to his first child with Matt’s mother. Music stuck around after children, though, as his parents invited a piano teacher over on Saturdays to teach the Munhall children (there were 9 of them in total) and the rest, as they say, is history. Matt got his break when he covered for a cancelled act at a local bar in Columbus during college. The house liked his music so much they decided to keep him on. Since then, Matt has churned out three albums, with his latest release representing his fourth, full-length LP.

Referring to the album and what artistic truth means in terms of getting the most out of a narrative or song, I asked Matt if he’s even been labeled a “Genre Artist” because of the wide range of styles he uses. He thought about the question for a moment and then told me, “The Truth can be funny, the Truth can be Do-Whop; I’m just trying to be well-rounded, I guess, and make music that’s as true to me as possible.” Listen to his music and you’ll know that’s true.

Matt wants you to listen to his music even if you don’t want to pay for it. Click here for a free download of the album or support his art in purchasing the album on iTunes. You can also find 700 Miles on Spotify.