Spoken is a band that has had success in the past, but for most of our readers, this is probably your first introduction to the band. Based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the band recently released their seventh album through eOne Music. The album is titled Illusion and the first single, Through It All, just scored the band the number one spot on the Christian rock charts. You can catch the band on the road all throughout the summer.
You can listen to the entire Matt Baird interview below:
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Today, I’m welcoming Matt Baird to the Unsung Melody family. Matt is the vocalist for the band Spoken. First off, thanks for taking the time to join us today.
My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to even care what we do.
You guys are awesome and we’re glad to have you. Spoken released their first album in several years. It’s titled Illusion. Let’s discuss that for a bit. The first single is Through It All. Give us a little insight into the song.
“Through It All” is one of those songs that we had several different versions of. From vocals, melodies, and lyrical content. We needed a mid-tempo type song for the record, because we had some really heavy stuff and some poppy stuff. It was a song that we worked on, off and on. We kept putting it on the backburner, thinking, “Maybe we can come back to it.” So, it was about two days after the tornado hit Joplin, Missouri when something just kind of struck me. I was like, “Guys, I’m going to try this again.” We were working on another song at that point. We were working on a demo of it. So, I was like, “I’m going to go upstairs for a little bit. I’m going to try this song again.” Anyway, I went upstairs and I was watching some footage from the Joplin tornado. I was just watching the devastation and how people from all over the country immediately rushed down there to help and I was moved by it. I was moved how a storm came and through adversity, all of these people came together and came out on the other side victorious. So, that’s what it took, that’s what triggered it to make it where the song was finished. It’s a little different than what the actual demo was, but it ended up being what we felt is a strong example of what our band was, who our band was. It was cool that it worked out that way, that I got to use that idea. I though the guys came up with some really cool stuff and it just worked out. Lyrical content, melodies, everything worked. We were really happy with it.
So that kind of explains the raining in the video.
We had talked about having a video with some rain and some bright lights. It just so happened to work out, that the night we shot that video in Germany, it was actually raining. We filmed the video on a test track, an automobile test track, so water actually came out of the ground too. It worked out really good. It was really cool. It was kind of perfect for the vision that we had for the video.
The song recently reached a milestone for you guys. You scored a number one hit on the Christian Rock charts. So congrats on that!
Thank you. It’s kind of weird. I never even really think about those kinds of things and when I got the email saying “Through It All” is number one, I was like, “That’s cool. What does that mean exactly?” (Laughter) I’m glad people are playing it. I’m glad people are listening to it and I’m glad people are asking questions about it, because it was one of the songs that means a lot to us. Our family is from the area. Our drummer Oliver and myself are from Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is only 45 minutes from Joplin. So it really hit home with us. It was one of those songs that was a lot of work and in the end, it was the right fit.
Any thoughts on the second single yet?
I don’t know. I think we are going to see how this song does and see how far this song goes. There’s been talk about “More Than You Know” being a single, or “Don’t Go”, or “Calm the Storm”. There’s a lot of songs to choose from. It’s just about being selective on what works best on what market I suppose. In the end, I’m just happy that the record has songs that everyone can relate to. That was one of the things that our producer Jasen Rauch wanted. He was literally like a band member during the whole recording process. It was really cool, because he is a genius. So to have him to pour into us as musicians and songwriters was really encouraging.
It’s good to have all of those darts to throw at that board. So, that’s a good thing.
Yeah! For sure.
You mentioned working with Jasen Rausch on Illusion. Jasen is a former member of Red and me being a Red fan, I can certainly hear his stamp on the music. What was it like working with him?
Nothing but good. While he is a great friend, he’s became one of our favorite people the last few years of working on the album. He’s hilarious. He is an amazing guitar player. He has great ideas. He’s a terrific songwriter. For example, with me, he taught me how to say what I want to say with less words and more meaning. Even when it comes to say, writing poetry, you have to think, “What do you want to say here? How do you want to say it? How do you move people by the lyrical content alone?” Not to mention the cadence and the rhythm of the music. Everything about working with Jasen was just perfect. It was the perfect combination.
This is the band’s seventh release. If someone hasn’t heard the new album, but are a fan from back in the day, what can they expect from this album, coming from your perspective?
To be straight up, it’s got the heaviest songs we’ve ever written. It has one of the more melodic ballads that we’ve ever done. It covers all the spectrums of what kind if band we want to be. It’s also not a remake of one of our older albums and that’s one of the things that was so important. Let’s not do something that we’ve done before. A lot of that came from a whole different way of writing songs. Oliver and I are the only ones on this record, that were on the self-titled record that we did five years ago. So, automatically there is a lot of growth going in. Not only that, there was a lot of life lived in those five years. Then you add the element of Jasen Rauch being the producer and Ryan Pei playing bass, and just all of this stuff makes for a really good combination. I don’t think we could be happier.
What made now the right time for Spoken to re-emerge in music and release a new album?
We fulfilled our obligations with Tooth & Nail when we turned in our self-titled record. We were done with our contract and we’re like, “Let’s see what’s next. Let’s just see what can happen.” We did three albums on Metro One Records. We did three records on Tooth & Nail and we’re just like, “Hey, let’s just see what else is out there.” Unfortunately that’s also when the music industry took a dive. It kind of tanked. Labels didn’t have the money to spend on records. Producers were trying to figure out how things were going to change. You still had the same amount of bands jumping up, thinking they are going to be the next big thing, but they don’t have the work ethic to succeed in that. So you’ve got all these bands saturating the market, just trying to make it. Yet, not knowing that this takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. There’s a lot of amazing bands out there and we recognize that. We know there are better than us. We know there are people that can write better songs than us. Our work ethic and our desire to do what we feel God has told us to do, that’s what’s going to last. We kept building relationships with people. We kept touring non-stop. We still tour eight months out of every year. So, it wasn’t that we slowed down as a band. We just didn’t have a record come out.
After about two years, we’re like, “Man, we’ve got to do something here. We’re not on a label yet. We’re not even sure what the next option is, but we’ve got to start writing songs. We’ve got to get some stuff out there in the market, so that people can know we still exist. Especially if they haven’t heard us on the radio in a while.” We had to get that momentum going, because you can’t work off the momentum from a record released years before. It’s just too hard, unless you are an enormous band. So, we started writing and recording and playing new songs live. We tried to get on different tours and then we started the record with Jasen Rauch a little over 2 1/2 years ago. We finally finished the record about six months ago. During that time frame, we were talking to eOne Music and they loved what we were doing. That was great, because a lot of people had that has-been mentality. People were like, “Oh they’ve been around for 16 years already. They’ve had their time.” I think to be a has-been, you have to become something and then fall off the face of the planet. With us, we just always tried to maintain and just build our fanbase consistently. Having relationships with our fans throughout the years and expand on our career, that’s what we feel we’ve tried to do. We’ve tried to write and record the best album that we’ve ever done. We’ve tried to make sure the fans know that we are more appreciative than ever and just try to embrace what we have. This band could end tomorrow and we couldn’t be surprised about it. (Laughter) We’ve already had 17 years as a band. Nobody gets to do that. So with us, we try to take advantage of every opportunity and we embrace it.
You’re currently out on tour with Volbeat and Danko Jones. I’ll be honest, that’s not exactly the first tour that came to mind when I think of a Christian band. How did that tour come about?
(Laughter) Oh man. Jason Fowler has been our manager for going on 5 1/2 years now. He came on board right after we released our last record on Tooth & Nail. He called me up and was like, “Hey, I’m working on a tour for you.” I’m like, “Okay, cool.” He’s like, “It’ll be right around when the record comes out. The label is excited about it.” I’m like, “Okay, cool.” He says, “I’m working on a Volbeat tour.” I said, “That’s cool. I don’t know what that is.” He said, “Are you kidding me?” I’m like, “No, I don’t know what that is.” He said, “Dude, they’ve had some major active rock radio success. They’re a band from Denmark.” At that moment, they’d only confirmed four shows in Canada and they all sold out in three days. So I’m like, “Yeah that’s awesome. Cool. Let’s do it. If it works out, cool, if not, we’ll tour no matter what.” Anyway, it worked out. They agreed to take us out and it came at a time where our record had been out for about two weeks when we started that tour. It has been amazing. Nobody knows who we are.
Like, the most that have known who we are at a show has been eight people. So the other 3,000 at those shows every night have no clue who we are. We’re a brand new band to them and that’s what’s so important about what we’re doing right now. Being on tours where no one has a clue who we are. So, it’s been amazing. It’s been really cool, but it’s also been kind of sad. Because so many people have been like, “Dude, we never come to see the opening bands. We are so glad we caught your set. You guys were amazing.” Well, thank you. But I’m sorry you don’t get to see opening bands that seem to know what is going on. I’ve seen plenty of bands open for bigger bands, and I’d think to myself, “How in the world did that band get on tour?” It’s been really cool because I think that says a lot for Volbeat too. It shows they are selective in who they take out on tour. People can say, “I’m going to see Volbeat and I’m going to catch the opening bands because they may have something to offer.” It’s been really cool. Their fans have been amazing to us. I don’t know what they really know what to think when I mention Jesus from stage, but I do. I feel like God has some amazing favor in this tour. There’s been some amazing conversations.
You just keep being you. That’s all you can do.
That’s it. That’s all we can do. Stay who we are as a band and as human beings and make sure we take advantage of every opportunity. And remember that God brings opportunities.
Alright Matt, I always end on a random question. So, today is no different. I noticed you have a nice beard in the video. I, too, sport a beard, so I thought I’d ask who’s beard is most impressive?
A guy named Josh. He plays in a band called Rest. His beard is epic. It is epic. It’s not quite like Billy Gibbons beard, but it’s on it’s way. It is a monster.
Matt, I thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. The site and myself wish you and the band nothing but the best. Hopefully, we can get caught up at a show sometime soon. You guys be safe out there on the road.
Preview or purchase Illusion from iTunes below:
Check out the video for Through It All below: