UTR: How has music played a role in your life in terms of worship and praise?
Matt: I was very blessed to be in a very active youth group at the church my family was attending at the time I began playing guitar. Within a year or so after first beginning to play guitar, our church decided to form a youth praise band to lead the youth group’s Wednesday night worship services. Of course, I jumped at the chance to a be a part of it and it was during that time when I found how much I loved being part of a group of believers leading the church in praise and worship. Unfortunately, the Church culture has changed so much in the last 25-30 years and there are so many times I look back at those years of leading youth and wonder ‘how did we (the Church) get to where we are today?’ As I have opportunities to visit other churches around the country, I am amazed to see how much “production” goes into the worship service. In fact, so much production that we often lose much of the actual “worship” of our Creator and instead look to be “entertained” by the created. So often today, churches require perfectly timed songs, with in-ear metronome, computer-aided song leading, fog machines, lights, motion graphics, etc., etc., etc. and I look around me and have to ask, ‘what are we doing?’ It seems in so many ways that churches feel they have to be on par with the latest commercial “worship” album or else people won’t attend their services. In my humble opinion, it is all so sad that the music-led worship of our God has slowly evolved to become a production of our man. Although I never attended seminary, I have always been able to be a part of leading worship music at whatever church we have attended since that time I began in high school. So for me, music has played an incredible part in my life as it relates to my own personal time with the Lord and also in my time of communal worship with my local body of believers. My hope is that the Lord will help all of us get back to that place of intimate worship where our eyes are on Him and not on us.
UTR: What were the decisions that led to you deciding to record and release your debut album, If You Need Me?
Matt: I began writing music in my senior year of high school and continued on for a while. However, life happened, as it does for everyone, and I put down my pen and guitar for several years as the Lord worked on me to mature as a husband and father. Nevertheless, it has always been a dream of mine to put together a collection of some of my songs and I’ve never let that dream go. In 2017 I began acquiring the equipment (and skill) necessary to do a truly self-produced project, not really knowing how it would all turn out, but believing that it was just what God had put in our hearts to do at this time in our lives. I personally performed all instruments (except the drums) and sang all vocals (no auto harmonies, sampled loops, etc.). I also recorded everything using my own gear in my own home (actually, quite a bit of the album was recorded in hotels while working on the road). The late nights, vacation days, weekends, holidays, etc. that I spent working over 2.5 years on this project really has been a labor of love that has only been possible because of the support of my wife and children. I’m also so thankful for my good friend, Craig Browning, who is an incredible drummer and our meeting up was a total God-thing at just the right time in my life as I was working on putting this album together. Drums are one instrument I just don’t have any real skill at playing and bringing Craig into the project was a key piece of getting this together.