When it came to making his latest record, Arrows of Desire, in stores Tuesday, Vancouver musician Matthew Good didn't lower his expectations.
The question arises only because Good calls his last record, 2011's Lights of Endangered Species featuring orchestral arrangements and instruments, "the most diverse and most musically challenging album I'd ever done."
"I made that record at the time I wanted to make that record, that's where I was at," says Good. "And with this record ... I'd been listening to a lot of alt-rock that I grew up listening to like Husker Du, The Replacements, a lot of bands like that."
So will Good's return to his alt-rock origins mean an upbeat live show as he prepares to tour across Canada in mid-October with an ambitious schedule of 30-plus dates?
"I think it will be very tiring for a 42-year-old," jokes Good, who lives with his family on a horse ranch in the Vancouver suburb of Mission, B.C.
"My physical activities are wholly limited to chasing children and dealing with horses. I'm an overglorified stable boy. I'm the one with the barn OCD. I'm meticulous. When it comes to paddocks, I rake them like fricking Japanese Zen gardens."
We caught up with Good during a recent promotional stop.
Q. You had to cancel the U.S. leg of your North American tour after tickets went on sale. What happened?
A. Unlike Canada where I can easily float my own boat and that's where I make my living, in America I need tour support for my crew and all the rest of it and when I tour there I break even. So when that fell through, I had no choice but to pull the plug.
Q. Arrows of Desire is such an evocative title, what inspired it?
A. (British poet) William Blake ... I got the idea originally from (the 1415 battle) Agincourt where the English fought the French and the longbow was the deciding factor in the outcome of that engagement. And I thought about just the idea, the metaphor of something, not mundane, but this inanimate object that gets put on a bow and is fired and travels over top of all of this chaos and ultimately hits a target. And there is obviously this suspension of time and how that applies to a lot of different things in life. I just found it really interesting.
Q. With your last record you said you didn't expect any radio singles. Do you feel differently with Arrows of Desire?
A. in the case of (the single) Had It Coming, I don't know that I would have gone with it first. ... I don't understand the landscape anymore. I really am that detached from it. I don't know what radio wants. I don't really understand it.
Q. Was there a time where you did understand?
A. Sure, in the late '90s. I've been doing this for 20 years so in some instances you've got a whole younger generation running stations that you're viewed as an older musician and how does that fit in with new music. And you have some stations, they have their head up their a--.
Q. Do you know you're one of the few musicians who actually speak their mind?
A. People in this profession protect themselves. I guess that's something I don't understand. ... Artists to me are people that very much think and operate outside of normal structures ... And I'm not making reference to like the entertainment of touching yourself with a foam finger thing. That's not what I mean 'cause that's not art. That's for entertainment. That's publicity. That's not art. I mean like (artist) Francis Bacon.
Q. You so outspoken about political issues, have you ever considered running for public office?
A. I don't think I'd want to. It's interesting me and Sasha Trudeau talked about it in Montreal once. And he just said to me, 'I've lived the life and seen inside it and it's just all dirty. You can't change it. You can't reform it. I wouldn't waste my time with it.' I agreed.
Matthew Good's select Canadian tour dates:
Nov. 1: Toronto - Massey Hall
Nov 7: Winnipeg - Burton Cummings Theatre
Nov. 14: Edmonton - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Nov. 15-16: Calgary - Epcor Centre's Jack Singer Concert Hall
Nov. 18: Banff - Eric Harvie Theatre at The Banff Centre