The sound

October 14, 2010


By Michael Swanger


Garcia’s Cashes Rivers rolling on with new album, label, publicist


The three paradoxes that help define budding Des Moines singer-songwriter Matthew Garcia are:

When he received his first guitar from his mother at age 13, he was more concerned with using it to write songs than he was jamming with friends;

He is best known by his band’s name, Cashes Rivers, though he credits himself as its only member on its new, self-titled album;

He had only played a handful of live shows before being invited to perform at the Des Moines Music Coalition’s 2009 Gross Domestic Product, a showcase of indie-rock that served notice to local audiences of his arrival.

Such is life for the young musician, who one national music blogger described as being more reflective of Iowans than the state’s most popular band, Slipknot.

“I took that as a compliment,” said Garcia, whose first full-length album is being released by Aqui Estamos Records, a local label founded by his sister, Shannon Garcia. The album is a mix of indie- and pop-rock, but at its center is Garcia’s songwriting.

“I’ve never claimed to be good at my instrument. I’m more confident in my songwriting,” said Garcia, who credits producer and friend Brandon Darner for helping him “get the sounds out of my head on record.”

“Brandon and I have been friends for a long time, so we could be frank with one another,” he said. “It was a real learning experience, but I didn’t mind. Once you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Garcia’s musical growth started at home, listening to his sister play. As a student at Lincoln High School, he started writing songs.

“It’s ridiculous what you write when you’re a teenager,” said Garcia, who got married on Aug. 6. “But I hashed out songs the best I could.”

Though he admits that he didn’t attend very many concerts by local groups as a teenager, he did befriend The Envy Corps, forming a friendship with Darner and lead singer Luke Pettipoole, who serves as co-producer for Cashes Rivers’ new album.

“I knew their music and really liked The Envy Corps,” Garcia said.

When the DMMC heard Garcia’s underground EP, “The Trees Will Clap For Us,” they invited him to perform at its 2009 GDP concert. It was the break he needed, Garcia said.

“I didn’t really make a big deal out of the EP, but it got to the right people,” he said. “So I got together a group of friends that I convinced to play the show with me, and we practiced a ton. None of that would of happened if it wasn’t for the DMMC hearing the EP and liking it. GDP gave Cashes Rivers the buzz that it needed.”

Garcia said the “buzz” has grown since Cashes Rivers performed at this year’s 80/35 fest (he rejected the DMMC’s offer to play it in 2009 so he could work on his new record), thanks largely to his signing with the Atlanta-based publicity company Team Clermont and the formation of Aqui Estamos (Spanish for “we are here”).

“Signing with Team Clermont was a turning point,” said Garcia. “It’s good to know that your hometown likes your music, but you know what you’re made of when everyone else likes it.”

Garcia will get a taste of what those outside Des Moines feel about his music when he plays three shows next week in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. Unlike most musicians, Garcia doesn’t frequently play live.

“They say you have to play over and over and over to get good, but I only needed to play one good show,” said Garcia, referring to his 2009 GDP performance.

Still, Garcia said that he would like to see new fans attend his show this weekend. Garcia said he is working with the DMMC to increase awareness of Midwest music.

“I want to see new faces and people who will support local music and have a good time and pick up a copy of the record and go home and listen to it,” he said. CV


caption: Cashes Rivers hosts a CD release party at the Vaudeville Mews on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. La Strange and The Brave Youth open. Admission is $5.