111 – Taking the Moment (With Matt Macdonald)


What more do we have than the moment we are in? This is a question we have found ourselves asking more every day so when we listened through The Classic Crime’s new album for the first time, we knew instantly that this was a conversation we wanted to have.

This week we are talking with Matt Macdonald, lead vocalist, and writer for the band, The Classic Crime. We discuss the inspiration behind their new album, Patterns in the Static and chat about Matt’s personal journey in taking the moment. He shares his experience in slowing down and leaning into the present which in turn helped inspire the feel of their new album. We also discuss the creative process and how to remove false narratives placed on us by others to see ourselves for what we truly are. 

This week we talk about:

  • The creative thought and events that inspired the new album, Patterns in the Static
  • Getting in touch with the present moment
  • Breaking down and opening up a previously closed narrative (what deconstruction is)
  • Living outside the narratives placed on each of us
  • Dealing with criticism
  • Staying true to who you are in THIS MOMENT.
  • The need for both chaos and order
View Transcription (by Otter.ai)

All right, everyone, we’re sitting here with Matt McDonald, lead singer and writer for the classic crime. Matt, how are you? I’m good. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. Thank you for joining us. Well, Matt and I were just discussing a little bit about how just things are kind of crazy. So by the time this comes out, we are hoping and praying things have died down. But as things are kind of going right now, as you guys know, life is hectic and crazy. And so how is that affecting travel for you guys right now just out of curiosity before we get into it well

Matt Macdonald 2:59
Normally, I would be doing this in my studio, which is, you know, it’s about a 20 minute walk from here downtown in the city. I live in Everett, Washington. And I’m not there right now because I’m working from home. So I’ve taken this pretty seriously and have decided that, you know, we’re going to we’re going to kind of self isolate, social isolation, social distancing, and self quarantine, not that we’re sick, but we just don’t want to spread it to people. So, you know, but yeah, there’s, you know, there’s some plans that we have this summer that we hope will still go off the classic crime is supposed to be going on to it’s scary kids scaring kids through to the east coast in late June and July. And, you know, we’re hoping that this social distancing and and the practices that we’re at least putting in place for ourselves and other people do it so that our tour doesn’t get canceled, and Christy and I were hoping to do Vocal flute few Living Room Tour back from the east coast in August. And obviously we won’t be meeting and living rooms if this infectious virus is still going around. So, yeah, it can definitely throw a wrench in the spokes of basically anybody’s industry anywhere. So we’re hoping we’re hoping it’s it slows down.

Cody Johnston 4:21
Yeah, for sure. As some of our listeners know with baseball season because of our stuff, we’re kind of at a halt so I really hope you guys get to keep doing what you’re doing but I see your you got new merch shout and you’ve done a great job of promoting that despite everything so props to you.

Matt Macdonald 4:36
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s funny, it feels a little bit like hey, you know, buy stuff because of an event or something. But honestly, I’m sitting I’m sitting here shipping packages from our pre order at home right now and I didn’t really factor in international shipping as well as I should. So I’m trying to get my to ship people their stuff.

Cody Johnston 5:03
Yeah. So you guys just came out with a new album. We can kind of talk about that. But I really just want to hear your heart on writing. What is this writing experience been like this time I’ve been? I think I’ve followed you guys are like I came to your music probably the way a lot of people did I think like a tooth and nail mix album whenever I was in a youth group somewhere. And sharing your music is kind of followed with me just kind of as I went through like deconstruction and a bit of reconstruction and then really with this new album, kind of the direction I want to kind of take this and just being in the moment, but what is the writing process been like for patterns in the static, which is your new album, and if you just want to kind of open it up, and we’ll just see where that goes from there.

Matt Macdonald 5:44
Sure, yeah. So when I launched the Kickstarter for this album, I didn’t have any of the songs written. I didn’t know what it was gonna be. And it was this crazy sort of abyss I was jumping into. And you know, normally we do a Kickstarter, I have songs ready. I’m pretty confident. I just need to Get them recorded and produced and everything. And so that’s why I do the Kickstarter. Hey, I have songs written, would you pre ordered them before hearing them? And this time? And everyone’s always said, Yeah, sure. And that’s worked out. And this time I said, Hey, I don’t have anything written, would you preorder it before it even exists? And people said, Yeah, sure. And so that’s even more pressure to write something good, you know, because people have all this faith and confidence that they’ll enjoy it, or they’ll at least want to buy it. So I started I did that partially because I realized I was I was rounding the end of 2018. And it had been, you know, coming up on two years between records how to be human came out 2017. And I thought if I’m going to get a record out in 2019, i n needs to be written now because these things take a long time. And so I use that as a motivator. And then I went on a three week Living Room Tour where I stopped by some different songwriter friends, I knew I On the west coast in Nevada and Albuquerque, and tried to get some song starts going. And then I tried to capture that for the people who back the album. So just letting people know like a little bit more in on the songwriting process, I thought that would be cool. And it’s something I’ve never done before, because I’ve always been pretty private about how it all works. In fact, I don’t even really know how it all works. So it was a way for me to like, try to articulate how it works. I also did some songwriting workshops along the way. And I was talking about songwriting, and I was trying to get myself in the headspace of like, let’s treat the craft like a craft like it’s not magic, even though it’s sometimes it feels like it is. It’s an actual craft that you can break down and you can get some insights, you know, by using language. And so I was trying to do that in the workshops, and it really helped and actually it informed to some extent the name of the album patterns in the static because I was talking about in these workshops, I ended up getting really full philosophical to try to describe what it’s what it’s like to write a song that means something that surprises you. And that didn’t didn’t doesn’t feel like it comes from you in a way. And I was using these big binary metaphysical terms, there’s chaos on one hand and order on the other. And the artists job, or the songwriter In my case, is to stand at the border, and reach into the chaos into the scary nothingness and pull out some form some order. And the order is the song, but it comes from the chaos and so you can’t be all form and you can’t be all chaos. You need to sort of stand at the border of chaos in order to create and how that’s a really difficult process. And so when I thought about patterns in the static, I thought this is a great metaphor because it’s about reaching into the static, the unknown, the nonsensical. There’s No form and pulling out a pattern. And the pattern is the song. And then I was also thinking because I like layered metaphors like there’s, you could look at it from a lot of different ways. I was also thinking about the phenomena of when there’s static in, in your life, it’s just a natural phenomena of hearing a pattern in it. So like we sleep with white noise at night, you know, and I would be up late at night, running through songs in my head, just writing in my head. And the white noise would kind of be this nothing ambient background that I would pull things out of. There’s another layer there to four patterns and static. It’s kind of like the songs on this record really came out of the ambient noise of my life, just the thing the day to day things that are sometimes overlooked. They’re not massive peaks or valleys. I mean, there are songs that are about that on the record, but a lot of the theme of the record is about just the moment, the simple things, the things that we overlook, or maybe don’t value, that’s the ambient noise that is informing a lot of the songs in the record. So I thought that was a perfect name for it just to be able to like sum up a lot of different concepts in one term.

Cody Johnston 10:17
Yeah, and I love that because that’s something that’s been extremely The only way I know how to describe it as spiritual. Because before your record came out, I was dealing heavily with being present in the moment. And like, our listeners know this, you don’t know this about me, of course, but something that I’ve dealt with a lot in my life is anxiety and like that stagnant or this constant fear of being stagnant or this constant fear of what’s to come or, you know, I’m constantly focused either out here in the future or back here in the past, and I want this, I had this, I guess, spiritual moment where I was like, Man, I’ve got to learn to be present. I’ve got to be mindful of my moment because if you don’t take the moment you Have nothing Right, right. And so when your album came out, that was the moment I was like, Man, I’ve got to jump on and say something here because that was the theme that I got from it. So it’s it’s cool to hear that back because I guess let’s play a little bit more into that. What? What about those, I guess not the peak or the valley kind of moments really just started to speak to you to kind of inspire this.

Matt Macdonald 11:22
So we spent a year in Nova Scotia, Canada, it’s on the east coast of Canada. It’s in the Maritimes is what they call it. And we spent a year living in an old family home that my grandparents used to live in that was empty. My aunt invited us out to to take care of it for a year. And we thought, Well, you know, we work for ourselves. The kids are not fully like plugged into school yet. I think my daughter went to kindergarten there. This is a chance to really travel and we could tour out and then we could save money because she was letting us live there for free and then we could tour back and then buy a house because we hadn’t saved any money for a house. Or anything being musicians seemed like a cool opportunity. So, but by the time we got there, we did eight weeks of touring. And it was all go, go go next, you know, we have three kids on the RV. It’s like next city, next city next city and like, little things come up and you push them aside because you just have to keep moving. And, you know, the tour went fine, but like, you know, our relationship, Christina, it was it was a little bit just more like, divide and conquer, get it done. We don’t have time to really like, talk or be alone ever. It’s either like we’re parenting or we’re performing. And there wasn’t, there wasn’t time to really process and have a relationship. And so when we got to Nova Scotia, we were both reeling. I think the first day, I built a desk because I was like, I need to get to work on this new vocal fue album which was called grandpre, which was after the the town that we lived in there. And I was just moving, moving, moving and I realized we weren’t connecting and We weren’t being present with each other. And we had a problem. And so my response was, what can I do about this? So I decided, I need to stop. I gotta stop working. So I just told her, I am not going to work for the next two months. I’m going into the parlor, which was now my office, and I’m going to be in there, but I’m not going to work. So I’m going to, I’m going to read, I’m going to sit, I’m going to think I gotta like that. That’s my work. I got to work on me. That’s good. And she was like, Okay, okay, whatever. And, and I was listening to this poet, who’s who actually is deceased, but he was on. I don’t know, I was trying to listen to podcasts, get inspiration to figure out what to do. And I think he was on, on being with Krista Tippett, and she was interviewing him and his name is john O’Donoghue, a Scottish poet and me being Scottish and I’m in Nova Scotia. And, you know, and he’s more of a naturalist like he’s like out there in nature a lot. There’s a connection to the earth. And he said, some CEO businesswoman from New York asked him, like, you know, she she called him and said, The wheels are falling off, and I’m spinning, you know, and I, what can I do to like, slow down and calm down. And he said, wake up every morning and watch the sunrise, and then watch the sunset every night. Do that for a week, and then get back to me just synching up to the circadian rhythms of your of of the world though. Yeah, the earth, the where we come from, you know, everything. So fluorescent light and fake light, and we’re not really synched up, you know, and that being human beings, it’s unnatural. So she did that instead, it changed your life. So I said, Well, I’m going to do that. So I did what I call my dawn walks and I did some sunsets, but ultimately, I wanted to sun was A little earlier over there and right around dinnertime. So I was going to do family dinner. So I ended up just doing the dawn walks after a while. And, you know, I did like 41 of these things in a row, like wake up at like 5:30am and then walk. And I didn’t know that this was actually a practice that people do. They call it a wander or while wander. So, yes, well, just just just to go and enter nature, and to be very present with it and be aware of it. I was doing it without even knowing because I went to a retreat later that where they taught us to do it. I wasn’t weird. I was already doing this. Yeah. But I would walk to the top of this hill, which is actually a lyric and one of the songs on patterns and static. The whole time, no phone, no distraction. I would pay attention to everything I saw, and I smelled. If there was something on the air. I would think about it. If I saw a tree and I wondered what’s the name of that tree? I would sit there I would look at its leaves or I would look at the clouds and the colors in the sky, I would, if I saw animals, I would really pay attention and and, and then I would get back and I would write a page in my journal about everything I’d saw. So I couldn’t record it in the moment, I had to use all of my five senses to record it into my memory and then go back and write it down. And initially, it was really, really hard to be present, enough to be aware enough to write a full page. Yeah, but eventually I was writing two pages. I was so aware of everything that was happening. It was like, the most boring thing ever. That was suddenly the suddenly the most exciting thing for me to do. Because I was able to slow down and really take every step and be aware of everything my senses almost turned back on. Like I had been denying them the whole time. Just thinking about the next thing you know, and so I started learning the names of birds and trees. I’m just getting in touch with everything I saw. And that really was the first time that I learned about the value and the gift of the moment of of all the things that are just passing us all the time. And how when you can really embrace the moment be in the moment, well, that the anxiety and the stress for one goes away that I’m a better person, to my wife and kids. And that ultimately, it’s the only thing that’s real. Everything else is a fantasy. And that like, the only the only thing real is right now. And so it helps me be more present with my family and my kids and just taking time and being like, I don’t have to work right now. Or I don’t have to think about all the 50 things I need to do. So that was the first kind of experience. You know, I was 35 years old. Were outside of being a child where you’re alone in your backyard, digging in the dirt, which is another lyric from the record. By like yeah, a lot of A lot of the songs I think came out of that concept of being in the moment of those little moments that are the things that will we miss, you know. And so the record deals a lot with time, the passage of time, looking back at different times, the moment in time, so I don’t know if that’s like, because, you know, I’m a parent, I’m watching kids grow up and realizing how fast it’s all going, you know, there’s one way and then the next day there’s something else and you’re like, did I was I really present with them in that moment? Because now they’ve changed and, and feeling like, I think culturally, you know, you said it resonated with you, I think, just culturally on on like a sociological level. We’re all feeling the stress of the speed of technology of the 24 hour news cycle, how fast trends come and go and the memes we’re inundated with, and like Remember last week when this happened, that seems like Billions of years ago. Yeah, you know, and I think it’s stressing us out. And so I thought it was important to share in the songs what what my experience with it is and, and hope hope that it resonates with other people.

Cody Johnston 19:16
Well and I love that because kind of tying it into a little bit of what we deal with here with like deconstruction and spirituality and everything. You don’t have anything if you don’t have that moment, right? You’re you’re completely disconnected from God from source from spirit, whatever you want to call it, you’re pulled out of that if you’re not even from people.

Elaine Johnston 19:33
Yeah, I mean, connecting with other people. Yeah.

Cody Johnston 19:36
And that’s one thing that I’ve really been trying to deal with lately. That’s been a recurring theme in my life is just like, you know, if the Bible says that, Oh, well, we are the temple of God. What does that mean? What does that even mean? Well, that means that there’s something to be said about focusing on people and not focusing on off on some other thing not being like it’s it’s one thing for me to sit with my wife, but it’s a completely different thing for me. To sit and have a spiritual encounter where I’m present with her, where I look in her eyes, and I’m like, tell me what’s on your heart, you can’t connect with someone, you know when your mind is elsewhere. And so I just I think that that’s a beautiful message. And kind of looping back. I really feel like and like, let me know what you think about this because this is just kind of my observation. I really felt like with your last record how to be human. I mean, I guess it’s kind of in the name. But it really was learning what patterns in the static is about or it was kind of a precursor to learning about what patterns in the static in bodies.

Matt Macdonald 20:31
Yeah, how to be human was definitely the summation of a journey that I’ve been on. And you could call it people call it deconstruction. But it’s really just the breaking down, or the opening up of a closed narrative. And I think any sort of belief system or any sort of, I mean, we all follow a narrative doesn’t matter what it is, I mean, there’s an operational narrative. We all believe that pieces of paper are worth dollar. That you can buy stuff with. There’s no innate value in $100 bill, but we see it we all agree, we all agree on it. And therefore it has power at the store. It’s just like that with any sort of belief structure and how to be human was really about opening that wide open. And it’s funny because the people who were offended by it said things like you guys, you know, you sold out or you lost your faith or Yeah, or whatever. Yeah, but like, but like your, your, your like selling out to the world or whatever, because people don’t like their narratives threatened. They don’t like their beliefs threatened and even if it was a belief about who I am or what the band was. It was a false belief. They still don’t want their false belief threatened. So they, they don’t say you’ve, they don’t say, you know, they tried to say you’ve changed when in reality. I’ve been this way for a long time. But this album That album was about expressing that. And the funniest thing I found was a lot of fans who weren’t who didn’t have those structural narratives who were already wide open. Their critique was, that’s the most religious album. I’ve

Unknown Speaker 22:14
heard from you guys. Personally, I thought that was your most spiritual album today, you know? Yeah,

Matt Macdonald 22:19
yeah, they’re like, but but like, some of them were, like, great. And some of them were like, I don’t like the all the religion on this. Yeah, like, what is it? Yeah. Oh, am I a religious person? Or, you know, exactly. So but the funny thing about it is, was, you know, it I was basically written by the end of 2015. And it had songs on it from 2013 1415 that came out in 2017. But, but by the time that came out, I was I was over it, you know? So I find myself sitting here like having to answer like questions from people who are just now processing those those comments. apps are just now opening up their their minds to new possibilities. And to me, I was like, once I did that I’m done with like, I’m done with it. I’m on to the next. Like, what do I do now? Like, and like you said, it does feel like patterns in the static, at least thematically is the next step. It’s like, what do I know? what is reality? And the thing that I, I feel like I can actually know the most and feel as the most real is the moment Yeah, it is just the practice of presence of being present with myself in myself, not having to constantly compare myself to other people or a narrative or my living up to a certain narrative or a structure or a story. And not believing any story I tell about myself. Yeah, just being in this, whatever this is, and being able to laugh does not take myself so serious. They’re not like, the things that weighed me down when I was younger was really just narcissism. It’s that I thought everything I did was of such incredible importance. And because I thought that, I mean, there’s some positives to thinking that I think, but there’s also a lot of negatives. There’s a lot of ways that you view yourself in the world that can be damaging to other people and damaging to yourself that can keep you in patterns of you know, bad bad habits or whatever, you know. So kind of freeing myself from that to be present and just be open and accepting of who I am in whatever moment that definitely was a was a natural next step after how to be human

Elaine Johnston 25:17
So I was gonna ask you how do you deal with criticism especially whenever it’s about your changing beliefs and and what other people believe about you and and like you said, some people were like this is too religious This isn’t a religious enough. And a lot of people in our audience and in our community deal with a lot of criticism. We’re just slightly different beliefs of the Bible or who God is. And they get attached Yeah, who themselves and they get attacked for it. What advice would you give to people dealing with criticism or dealing with maturing and changing and growing into who, who they were supposed to be who they’re called to be?

Matt Macdonald 25:54
To understand the idea of stories and the power of stories over people’s lives. Stories are are ultimately idols. Right? This, it’s these these frameworks that we can clearly understand that we can follow and that prop Our lives have up and give us structure. But to understand when you really understand that, and how that’s dictated a lot of my actions in the past, I don’t know, I think I can offer grace to people who are very defensive of their stories, because they they’re at a place where they really need that story to be true. And when you threaten it, it will naturally You’re threatening the the core of who they think they are. It’s not who they think they are. It’s just ego right? It’s just it’s it’s just a narrative structure that props up this idea of me. And so they’re living in that and to them it’s very scary if if someone disagrees because it’s like they’re their ego themselves, are though it’s being threatened and so I get it, so I don’t respond. When people criticize I see more it shows it tells me more about them than it does about me. And so I but I, but I don’t need like, I don’t need to respond back to them because I’m not being attacked. Yeah, I know that they’re feeling attacked. Yeah, you know. And so if I respond to them, mostly it’s it’s to say, Hey, I’m not trying to attack you, I’m just trying to express myself and I’m sorry, you feel that way. You know, try to de escalate. But, but everyone you know is quote, unquote, on their own journey. And the best I can be is just myself in this moment, to moments from now my mind might be changed. That’s, that’s how I move. I don’t keep still and I don’t I don’t keep propping up some, you know, whatever. I believed when I was 19 years old, it’s just my life has changed, my experiences have changed, my mind was has been altered and so I’m just my goal is as a musician is just taking Express where I’m at in the moment when I write a song. And honestly, when the song comes out, I might feel extremely different. I try to explain that to people too. It’s like, Hey, I wrote that when I was six years old. And, you know, that was 10 years ago. And I don’t even know if I believe that when I recorded it. Yeah. But it was the moment that was captured. And so I had to do justice to it. I’m putting it out. So

Elaine Johnston 28:23
but I think there’s a huge importance on being more self aware of yourself, other other people, the circumstances around you, all of that. And I feel like that’s how you’re able to grow and to mature into that is it just being aware, grounding yourself going outside, meditation, yoga, all those things that kind of pull you away from outside sources for the media from all of that and just kind of look within and truly discover who you are your feelings, your thoughts and how you connect with other people.

Cody Johnston 28:55
Well, yeah, I think that’s the hardest. I think it’s like the whole beauty of, of literally being The moment right is like, whenever we get criticism a lot too for like podcast stuff, etc. And so like when you get that it’s hard not to take it personal. But you have to remember like those people are critiquing you based on their own critiquing of themselves what they’ve been told what they’ve been taught. Like, it’s just, it’s this whole dynamic where they’re being fed something and so they’re kind of pouring it out. And when we take that time to seize every moment to seize the moment you’re in, it kind of it takes the narratives away, it takes the labels away. And it takes us into a place where we can see each other for what we are humans, but we’re more similar than we’re dissimilar, I guess, is what I’m trying to get out with.

Matt Macdonald 29:41
Sure. Yeah, and I like the idea of, of going inward. I think it’s so important, a lot of our culture and our just the way that we are as Americans or Westerners is so externalized we get all of our feedback from the outside. Whether you’re a materialist or a Christian whatever God you serve, right you know if it’s if it’s stuff or deeds or belonging it all comes from other outside of us and to understand to ask yourself the question Who is there when I don’t have to be good who shows up when I don’t have to work hard when I don’t have to worry who’s the watcher who’s behind all this activity and all this externalized ego me? Like, what if I’m okay, you know, because everyone’s everyone’s running around, going, I’m not okay, I need this. I need to be better at x. I need more money. I need more stuff. I need more Instagram followers. I mean, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at your your you always need more. And so what if you like who shows up if you don’t need more, who show who’s the other person? The real core, and that is that I think that is experienced more When you can be quiet and just really slow down into the moment and go, wow, this is enough. This is enough. I don’t have to be good. And it’s scary when you when you think about that, initially, you know, it worried me initially when I thought, oh, what what happens if I don’t have to be good? I found out that I was a lot better of a person.

Cody Johnston 31:25
I mean, don’t we manifest? I mean, to us like a word like, don’t you pretty much manifest what your thought process is, right? Like we’re composed primarily of our thoughts and our thoughts become our actions. And so if we’re constantly focused, and this is like, my biggest beef with Western Christianity and Western work culture is you’re constantly trying to improve, improve, improve, but to what end? Like you’re constantly seeing yourself as something worse than when in reality if you start viewing yourself as something better, or something good, you know, and I write, you know, to use a biblical narrative, you know, the whole like woman called an Adultery or prostitution or whatever, Jesus is like, hey, you’re not this. And she goes on with life because he changes the narrative like that’s the message. Right? Right change the narrative. Well,

Elaine Johnston 32:09
a lot of people are afraid of being vulnerable, not just with other people but themselves. A lot of people are scared of their own thoughts and their own feelings and, and they’re, they’re afraid to take off that mask because they’re afraid of what they’re going to find out. But what they find out is that they’re actually good people. They’re they’re actually a lot like you said a lot better than what they thought they were.

Matt Macdonald 32:31
Yeah, it’s it’s tough to let go of narratives. Because you feel like, you know, if I don’t believe this, or I don’t hold on to this, if I let go, then it’s going to get so much worse. You know, I’ll be untethered, I’ll be falling. I won’t have a moral compass. I won’t have a structure that will prop me up. And that’s all just fear and anything motivated by fear is is gonna is gonna lead to negativity, I think A lot of people are clinging out of fear, because they don’t want to fall into the unknown. They don’t want to Yep, they don’t want to swim in the static. And I think, if you can let go in a good way, there’s so much beauty to be found in that. And, you know, there are wisdom traditions, you know, that are millennia old, that are all about this. Exactly. And it’s, it’s even within Christianity. contemplative Christianity was born the same time Christianity was born. You know, Jesus Himself went out into the desert, to fast. This is old, old, old stuff. And I think in our Western culture, we have lost touch. I think there have been movements maybe in the 60s where people kind of grasped back to the east as a as a reaction to war and the 1950s sort of like proper printing. rigid, materialistic nuclear family thing. But like I think we’re at a point now where, where people are hungry again for for something deep, deeper and more meaningful, that isn’t so materialistic that isn’t so ought to and about your work and and doing the right thing. And that isn’t so fundamentalist and puritanical and, and, you know, exclusive us versus them and we are all separate and we’re, we’re holy and they’re not, you know, people are tired of the binaries. And I think that’s why the more mystical traditions are, I think, are a little bit more appealing, especially nowadays to a lot of people. And they’re finding a lot of like life in it. Whether it’s whether it’s meditation, or contemplative practice or even yoga or, you know, these silent retreats that people are going on or fasting or whatever. These are things that people have done for thousands of years, for the same reason. To escape the oppressive narratives that society places on us, and so it’s very human to desire this stuff. And I think if it’s responsibly pursued, then yeah, there’s nothing but beauty that can come from from letting go.

Cody Johnston 35:16
Yeah. So maybe that narrative works backwards to maybe to learn to be human, you have to find patterns in the static, right? You have to learn to be human again. Yeah, to drop that narrative. That’s a good what, uh, what’s some personal advice just from one human to another that you would have through what you’ve been through to say, Okay, here’s a good place to start on just trying to take the moment trying to be quiet, maybe trying to learn more about yourself versus what other people’s narratives have said about you. I know you’ve shared a little bit about your journey, but where would you kind of guide people as a as a good starting point, or at least a place to look into? Do you could try

Matt Macdonald 35:51
if you have the means to do a dawn walk or a sunset walk, have a pattern or a routine, just to commit to something For a week and see what it does, I don’t like commitments. I don’t like rules and I don’t like restrictions. But like when shit hits the fan in my life, I’m totally okay to do it. So it was bad. And so I was like, I have to commit to something, you know, because it’s not gonna change itself. So I have to take some action. So for me, it was the dawn walks, it was getting up finding out when the sunrise was happening, getting up 15 minutes before putting my clothes on and walking out the door. And just being out there alone in the quiet morning by myself, and just paying attention. You know, everybody can get outside. You know, it’s there. The sun is rising every morning. And if you want to go witness it, I would say that’s a really easy, easy thing to do. I mean, it requires you getting up early before work, but just commit for a week. Just set just set your alarm and go I’m going to try this and then if things are critical in your life, and you know coronavirus got you down and you’re anxious A good time to go outside would be when no one’s around, you can be socially distance.

Cody Johnston 37:06
working from home anyway.

Matt Macdonald 37:08
Right? Try to get a view of the East try try to look east and watch that new day start. Yeah, there’s something about the directions that we’ve lost. We’ve lost the mystical relationship to the directions of our our three dimensional lives, east and west and north and south. I mean, these are all these all had metaphorical meaning to our ancestors. And so reconnecting with that, I think is an easy, easy first step. I don’t have like a regular meditation practice, but I do find that just focusing on my breath, when I’m stressed out is really helpful. I mean, just in a moment, not sitting down for two hours, you know, I could maybe do 20 minutes. Yeah, but like, but like just just just five breaths. Just Standing, closing your eyes or watching something, light a candle. Take five long breaths and focus on just the feeling of the breath coming in through your nose and out through your mouth, the tickle of it, the feeling the sensation, the gap between the inhale and the exhale, just focusing on the breath. And when your mind wanders, just noticing and acknowledging that it wandered, and then coming back to the breath, and that that transition, everyone who meditates feels like a bad meditator because you’re constantly bringing your mind back to the breath, because it’s always wandering. It’s always wandering. But the thing is, if you let it wander and you follow it, you follow it. Then you come back to your breath. You’re like, That’s funny. It had be for a while, but you realize that in your whole day, as your day goes, it has you the whole time, and it’s not you. The thoughts come up randomly. You don’t generate them. The you is the you that can focus back on the breath. Go, I’ll let the thoughts go. And that is just that transition from the thought to the breath. From the that to the this. And when you’re in this in the moment, that shift is what trains your brain to be able to do that and someone says something mean to you online, the thought that like this, I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m not that that’s the thought, you know. And so there’s a reason why people have been doing it. Christians have been doing it for years and years and years. It’s it’s not magic. It’s not be a cult. Christian mystics over the years have all meditated and contemplated and sat there and looked at candles and focused on their breath, in fact, mantras and they’ve had all sorts of different techniques. And all built within the religious structures themselves in western Christianity gets a little scared of it because it’s Eastern, but we seem to forget the Christian is an Eastern religion, it came out of the Middle East. So

Cody Johnston 40:04
anything that shakes you out of complacency is scary. Right?

Matt Macdonald 40:07
Exactly. And we want our stories we want our narratives who think that that’s, that’s gonna protect us. Yeah, we think they’re gonna protect us but they’re ultimately what kills us. They’re the thing that robs us from the moment is this story. You’re just following this narrative in your head? Yep. And, and yeah, so I would say Don walks and just focus on the breath once in a while and that’s a that’s a good place to start.

Cody Johnston 41:06
Just kind of bring it back to the album so we can kind of wrap up with that. One thing that you had mentioned that I was curious to hear your perspective on is you said the first half of the album is day and the second half is considered night. So I’d love to hear a little bit of elaborate. does that have anything to do with the dawn walk specifically? or How did that come?

Matt Macdonald 41:22
Yeah. Well, it has to do with the, the kind of the metaphor of the, the the static in the patterns, the chaos in the order, the night and the day, that these two things are paradoxical, but they’re also both necessary when I said writing. You know, art happens at the border of chaos in order you need both. And so you need the dark and the light, you need the good and the bad. You need a full perspective, a full picture, and then a non judgmental perspective of it. Like I’m not bad and I’m not good. I am just I am so I wanted to represent That binary by clumping songs together that fit on either side. And actually right in the middle, it kind of blurs, there’s a blurry blurry between the outside, which is kind of a precursor to going out into the dark. And then patterns in the static is like, kind of reaching in, you know, so, but, but yeah, I normally try to have songs take the use of the user, the listener on a roller coaster. Yeah, yeah, when people are using music, I really, I think music is useful. But like, but like instead of doing that i for i never have done this before where I group all the songs that are like thematically about one thing together or even sonically in Assam in the similar sandbox, and then grouping kind of the darker more Meteor songs on the back back half in the in the nice side. And and it’s cool because The vinyl day and night have two different labels to and it’s and it’s clearly the flip side of the vinyl. So the first six are day, then you flip it over to the beside to get tonight. So I thought that was a cool way to do it. And it just worked out because I looked at the songs and I was like, Oh yeah, there’s six of each. Yeah, you know, and then there’s like two in the middle that could kind of go either way. And those will be the transition songs. So yeah, it just worked out and it was an idea I had in the shower after the record was already recorded. So then I was like, God, great. You know, Eureka I can do I can do that. I have a tracklisting idea now

Cody Johnston 43:34
so sweet. And I don’t know I’m not the only one that has great ideas in the shower.

Matt Macdonald 43:39
A man shower can be a wonderful a wonderful time to experience the now Yes.

Cody Johnston 43:48
So what what’s one key takeaway when people listen to patterns in the static that you hope they they can take with them? Or maybe it’s a feeling or a thought whatever that is to you? Yeah, how can they use your music?

Matt Macdonald 43:59
Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t write it for takeaways. You know, when I’m really truly writing, I’m writing for myself to express to express myself. I don’t know, for some reason I have to do it. Some childhood wound happened and now I have to.

Cody Johnston 44:15
So what did you take away from your,

Matt Macdonald 44:18
um, it was really, me trying to express kind of a change in my thinking and trying to embrace the moment and lamenting at the speed of time, missing when time moves too slow. The Nostalgia was really thick on the first half of the record. And so yeah, I was trying to express that nostalgia as as I get older, I’m trying to take some of that childlike curiosity of what is happening right now. And imbue that in my spirit through songs, and, you know, so I was trying to remind myself a little bit of what that was like and, and see if I could take somebody with me Yeah,

Cody Johnston 45:00
that’s good. All right, kind of one final question for you, I guess kind of broad scoping out here. For anyone who is listening that is an artist or a creative, which I hope everyone listening taps into that creative at some point because that’s vital to me. But like, What’s that? What’s just some advice from someone who’s been creating for a long time, who is in my opinion mastered getting people to back what they’re creating and rally or they created? Yes, apparently and rallying fans and everything like that. What’s some advice you have to to creators out there? Just any kind of advice, whatever you would biz,

Matt Macdonald 45:33
business advice, or I would say just to be,

Elaine Johnston 45:38
I guess from a creative

Cody Johnston 45:40
Yeah, from a creative standpoint, like what’s an advice you would have just to, I guess I’m looking at this personally, because I was a worship pastor for seven years, and I’m just now in the place in life. I’m like, I’m gonna write, because this is something I love. I’m going to do music because it’s something I love, not because it’s what’s expected of me and I can kind of break away these last two years when we started this project. Two years ago, it was at like a precipice in our life where I was leaving ministry completely and going, you know, my thoughts no longer aligned. I was constantly butting heads. It was just a problem creating for you. And like, Yeah, I was kind of coming to a place where just creating artistically for me, so maybe this is a selfish question, what advice you have for someone to just create, I guess. Yeah,

Matt Macdonald 46:20
I mean, there’s a million things I could say. Cut out the external. I think if you’re, if you’re already, you have a craft and you have a voice. You don’t need to emulate. Just follow the threads within yourself. I mean, it’s just, it’s just about being present to just what pops pops up and being available and being ready to capture it. I mean, a song to me is like a friend of mine put it this way, once you’re walking along and you trip over something, and it’s like, Whoa, I tripped. And you can keep walking, you know, dust yourself off and keep walking. Or you can look at what you tripped over Maybe you brush it off and you go, that’s a bone. And you’re like, well, now I’m curious. Now I’m going to spend seven hours uncovering this skeleton. And it’s not, it’s not that you’re making it, it’s that you’re discovering it, it already knows what it is, it’s already in the ground, you got one piece of it, maybe it’s a rhythm, maybe it’s a chord progression, maybe it’s a melody, maybe it’s a rhythmic rhyme, or a lyrical line, or a poem, or anything, it could be anything. It’s just one part of the skeleton. And I think your job as a songwriter is to just uncover it. Now, at some point, you’re gonna have to put it together. So it makes sense. It’s not going to be, it’s not going to be some weird animal where the foots on its face or whatever, you know, it has to have you have to have the producer lens. But the main job I think of the artist, when you’re looking at it with your artists hat on, is to just uncover it and it’s takes as long as it takes. But to me, it’s the stop and see what you just tripped over, drop everything and start digging. Because that’s that’s the moment when it hits you. And I’ve had countless moments where I didn’t stop and it’s gone. And never find it again. I had an entire album written in my head in in REM sleep. One morning, I had the name, I had the song styles. I mean, I don’t know if it was playing tricks on me. But my brain had it done. I was like, I at least have like seven songs. Wow. I was like, I can’t wait till I can get up and I’m gonna work on this tomorrow and it’s gonna be good. And then of course, it was absolutely erased from my mind. And that’s like a death, right? It’s like you lost a child or something. So just to be willing to stop everything, drop everything. Wake up, snap out of it. Grab your phone, that to me, that sort of impulsive following The threads is the best advice I can give to someone who’s creative. You know, things pop into your head pay, like, take them seriously, pay attention and let your spouse or partner know that you’re not. It’s not you’re not being rude. That’s like, that’s like what you have, like I have to leave right now. Yeah, I can’t be here, or else this will be gone. I remember when Christy and I first switched roles where I was sort of the main guy that was supposed to pay the bills. And I said, Well, I’m doing this music thing. So she had supported me for like seven years working in at the newspaper in Seattle. And when we had kids, she’s like, I’m staying home and you’re paying the bills, okay, but you need to leave me alone in the basement, in this place that the basement, my studio is down there, and she would just do little things like I would have the whole song swirling around like I’m just almost ready and she’d be like, I’m going to the store. You didn’t need to pick anything. You yell down. And it’s just gone. Yeah, you know? And I’m like, I just got mad at you for something very similar the

Cody Johnston 50:09
other day.

Unknown Speaker 50:11
Oh, no, it’s

Matt Macdonald 50:15
like, it’s like she tore something away from me. And so she had to learn that like when I when I was working, even if I wasn’t, she just couldn’t interrupt because I could I couldn’t be writing. And so just to just to make that space and take sacred, if you can be very precious about your ideas and about your work time when you’re working on them. I think that helps. I think that helps the creativity

Cody Johnston 50:43
a lot that I think that applies to like everything we’ve been talking about. So that’s a great place. Where can I Where can you send people to find your music and what’s going on that benefits you guys the most?

Matt Macdonald 50:53
Well the classic crime comm is our website. There are some mercs there that you can buy. I’m still fulfilling package So it might take a week or two. We also have a link some tool to emerge that won’t take that much time because we did it on Teespring. So that’s on the classic crime. COMM vancamp is the best way to get it digitally, probably because you can pay what you want. So and then their rate is better than iTunes twice as good as iTunes, if you’re buying digital music, and also they have like the 24 bit, you know, master version, which is like streaming services are all 16. Yeah, but band camps are the way to get the best possible version of it. And it’s the best cut they only take 15% so

Cody Johnston 51:37
very cool. Well, then we’ll

Unknown Speaker 51:39
Yeah, sure. Yeah.

Cody Johnston 51:41
Matt. So you guys are going on tour. All things planned with scaring kids scaring kids, right. You want to promo that one more time for you off here?

Matt Macdonald 51:50
Sure. I mean, if, if we’re not all in quarantine, June June 27 to July well Think or something like that.

Cody Johnston 52:02
Yeah, we’re starting in Chicago, we’re heading down south, we’re going to Florida and then up east coast. And it should be a great tour. If it still happens, so that you can check out the dates on the classic rom com. Very cool. Well, we will put all the links to everywhere to find you guys to keep in contact, where to stream, your music, all of that in the show notes. And, Matt, I can’t thank you enough for coming on and sharing all of your thought process behind that a little bit of life experience and all that. So we greatly appreciate your time. Thank you.

Matt Macdonald 52:34
Yeah. Thanks, guys. appreciate you having me.

Elaine Johnston 52:36
Once again, we just want to give a major shout out to Matt McDonald from the classic crime this week, as we talked about seizing the moment and just living in the present.

Cody Johnston 52:46
Yes, thank you so much, Matt. And of course guys, you can find all of their music, where to stream it and figure out those dates for that tour. Hopefully it continues to actually be able to go on with all this craziness going on, but Get dates for that and access to them in the show notes below links to all of their stuff and I highly encourage you to go check them out. If you haven’t done so, so far, don’t forget we have a private community just for you. So if you’re a listener of this show, and you’re looking for a safe place to ask unsafe questions, we invite you to be a part of nomads go click that link and ask to be a part. And if you haven’t done so, so far, we asked you to leave an honest review that helps people passing by to know what this show is about. And the last ask we have for you today is just to share this on with a friend if you enjoyed it. That’s the best way to keep the conversation going. And as always, we’d love you guys. Be brave, be bold and be reckless. We’ll talk soon

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Matt Macdonald

Matt Macdonald

Lead vocalist and writer for The Classic Crime

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