Q&A: Perpetual Groove Keyboardist Matthew McDonald Talks to Knockdown Alley

Posted on Wednesday October 7th in

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Reunited and it feels so good: Following a two-year hiatus, jam friendly rockers Perpetual Groove (below, performing “Teakwood Betz” for Tour Gigs), out of Athens, Ga., have gotten back together and hit the road, which brings them to Brooklyn Bowl for a pair of shows this weekend, on Friday and Saturday. And last week, Knockdown Alley caught up with keyboardist and vocalist Matthew McDonald.

You guys recently reunited after a two-year hiatus. With your long history prior to that, was it like picking up mid-conversation with old friends? Or has it taken a little while to get back into the swing of things? One thing that we have confirmed in all the time we’ve spent together this year between shows, rehearsals, and conversations is
that all of our old jokes are still funny.

And now that you’ve got some shows on the calendar, is there any new music in your future? Yes, this week we’re releasing a new single with a video. The song did exist before the break, but it’s very recent in the catalog. As far as new music is concerned, we’re already
planning on going back in the studio in either December or very early next year to record a few new songs.

What’s the last band you paid to see live? Kenosha Kid here in Athens. But, hopefully by the time we get to the Brooklyn Bowl shows next week, it will be Tame Impala. They’re playing Terminal 5 the night we arrive and I’m desperately seeking tickets not on StubHub.

What bands have you seen play live the most often (excluding any you’ve toured with)? Phish, Flaming Lips, Wilco.
Pretty much in that order.

Which bands that you listened to growing up do you still listen to? The classics. Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Nick Drake, Colin Hay, Talking Heads, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails. I was pretty grown up when LCD Soundsystem hit, but I’d have to include them with as much of the soundtrack
of my 20s and 30s they’ve occupied.

As a group that tours the country, is there any significance in playing New York City? Or is it just another stop on the road? New York City is the greatest city in the world. You end that sentence with a period because it’s a statement of fact. Every borough, part of town … hell, every street has a unique vibe and tempo. I think it’s why so many creative minds converge there. There’s inspiration, all types of it, everywhere. The people
are just a direct reflection of that energy, and at showtime,
it just feeds the show and performance.

With PGroove having played NYC so many times over the years, are there places — bars, restaurants, museums, whatever — you find yourself seeking out when you return? I always make sure
to stop by the Counting Room around the corner from Brooklyn Bowl. One stop that has been consistent in the past is Galaxy Cafe, but I recently learned it’s now closed. I’m going to the Four Horsemen this week and usually do my best to try a new place on every visit. I know it’s touristy, but the Met is amazing, plus it gives me a chance to go to Central Park.
Last time I went to the 9/11 memorial the fountains were complete
but the museum still wasn’t open. Definitely planning on going to the museum on this visit.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you? When did you get so professional?

At your after-party there’s an endless jukebox and we give you a buck. Which three songs are you playing? “So Insane” by Discovery, “Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem, and “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye.

It’s 4 a.m. and last call has come and gone. What’s your next move? Ha ha ha, I don’t remember the last time I saw 4 a.m. Let’s say move the party to the hotel, in someone else’s room, so I can get some sleep in mine.
—R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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