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The Sound

The secure attachment of Matthew Sweet


Matthew SweetFor fans of iconic alt rock singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet, it’s been a long wait for new original music since his 2011 album “Modern Art.” During that time, he moved back to his home state of Nebraska and dealt with the loss of his mother. Last month, Sweet released his 12th studio album, “Tomorrow Forever,” which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

He performs July 12 at Wooly’s.

“It was just something I was interested in trying,” Sweet said of crowdfunding. “The weirdest thing that happened was my mother passed away about six weeks after the campaign wrapped, which slowed me down and made me feel a little frozen before I could start working. Because it was tied to the Kickstarter, I wanted to make sure the album was strong, so I did multiple batches of songs. About 38 for the album, and partly that was because I felt I owed it to the backers to pull out all the stops.”

“Tomorrow Forever” took nearly three years from the start of the Kickstarter to its release. In the end, Sweet is satisfied with the results, but he’s not sure he would pursue the same release strategy again. He’s not the biggest self-promoter — for years he kept himself off album covers and tried to minimize his appearances in music videos. Making fans a part of the creative process often means giving them a peek behind the curtain, and Sweet found it tough to balance being creative and inclusive.

“I think maybe I’m not the ideal person to do a Kickstarter,” Sweet said. “You have to do enough updates to make people happy, and I tried to make those very in-depth, which took a lot of time. Some people who do Kickstarters seem to be social media juggernauts who provide a lot of stuff along the way. Once I got going on the album, that took a lot of my energy.”

Prep Iowa

“Tomorrow Forever” takes its name from a painting by Margaret Keane, whose work was the subject of the Tim Burton film “Big Eyes” (the film’s writers turned to the art collection of Sweet and his wife when researching the film), and the cover art is by MAIO, famous for Harlequin Girl art in the 1960s. It’s a fascination that can be seen in the use of anime in his 1991 video “Girlfriend.” Sweet thinks there’s a reason he’s drawn to this style of art.

“Something about big eyes have always fascinated me,” Sweet said. “There’s this idea, ‘secure attachment,’ that has to do with when you’re a baby and someone looks deeply into your eyes without breaking the gaze, it’s supposed to give you a feeling of wellbeing. If you don’t get that secure attachment, you end up a little damaged from it and trying to find a wellbeing that didn’t get instilled in them when you were very little.

“My mother was bipolar — I am, too, but she was untreated. For a long time, her ability to focus wasn’t very good. I think that ties into why I find that concept of secure attachment and the idea of big eyes staring at me so compelling.” ♦


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