There was a time when I had “Diaryland” by Matt the Electrician stuck on repeat. Then, this past Sunday, I shared the stage with the local singer-songwriter at the new guitar pull series I’m co-hosting with Bonnie Whitmore at the Continental Club Gallery. Playing with one of my Austin heroes proved exhilarating.
Matthew Sever is Matt the Electrician. He was an apprentice electrician for two years before he took his journeyman’s license test and ran his own truck. His transition from electrician to full-time musician comes detailed in “These Boots.”
“These boots are made for working. Mondays I’m so tired, Wednesday’s halfway home. Friday’s just another day when the weekend never comes. I don’t wanna die like this, with a hammer in my hand, instead of playing in the band.”
Today, Sever’s safe in his music career, having just released ninth album It’s a Beacon It’s a Bell.
“Suffice it to say, I’ve learned how to do everything I need to do by myself to crawl and claw my way to the middle,” he declares. “I really only ever wanted to make a living playing and writing music, and for the last 10 years or so, I’ve been able to do that.”
If you know anything about Sever, you know he’s a die-hard baseball fan.
“Baseball was a big part of my family,” he affirms. “Both of my parents have always been fans. My grandpa was a semi-pro ball player in the Thirties, and played for the San Francisco Seals with Joe DiMaggio. So not only was there a lineage of baseball, I was also born in the Bay Area, as was my dad. I’m a San Francisco Giants fan.”
“I’ve always loved underdogs,” he explains. “When I was a kid, the Giants weren’t doing so well as they are now. They had this pitcher, their closer, a guy named Greg Minton [born in Lubbock], who had longish hair and they called him Moon Man Minton. He had this fantastic side arm delivery that I loved to watch. He didn’t have the best record, but I still loved him.”
Sever was around my age when he started playing out live.
“I started playing a weekly show, every Sunday night, when I was 15 years old. It was at a coffee shop called Bittersweet in Pacific Grove, California.”
Around 1996, after leaving Humboldt State, which he wrote about and still owes the $35 mentioned in the song, Sever was living with his parents and experiencing serious wanderlust.
“I needed to start over somewhere, go somewhere where no one knew me. I wanted to start playing music more seriously. The only thing I knew about Austin was that Poi Dog Pondering had at one point lived here, and they were my favorite band in college.
“That was enough for me. I loaded up the car in Oregon and drove to Austin.”
After all this time I finally asked Sever what inspired “Diaryland.”
“Before blogging really became a thing, there was a website called diaryland.com that hosted individual blogs, and I had a friend who would write in her online diary every day. I got so obsessed with reading it every day, that when she would take a day or two off, I would get upset and call her, trying to get her to write more.”
Sever couldn’t be happier between family, life, and music. A few things people don’t know about him: he enjoys doing simple math, his hero is Charlie Brown, and says he’s a terrible golfer. His advice to musicians starting out:
“Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If it stops being fun, stop doing it.”
Matt the Electrician’s next Austin shows are tomorrow, Thursday, October 31, at Strange Brew, and November 14 at the Cactus Cafe. The next Continental Club Gallery Guitar Pull is this Sunday, November 3, with Jesse Woods, Emily Wolfe, and Chris Porter.
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