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Matthew Frederick Robert Good (born June 29, 1971) is a Canadian rock musician. He was the lead singer for the Matthew Good Band, one of Canada's most successful alternative rock bands in the 1990s, before dissolving the band in 2002. Other band members included drummer Ian Browne, guitarist/keyboardist Dave Genn, and original bassist Geoff Lloyd, later replaced by Rich Priske. In the years since the Matthew Good Band's disbanding, Good has pursued a solo career and established himself as a political activist and blogger.
Matthew Good Band
Good's early career in music involved a variety of folk demos and a stint as the lead singer of a folk band, the Rodchester Kings. Matthew Good and guitarist Simon Woodcock were discovered at an open mic at Simon Fraser University by manager Brent Christensen. Early Rodchester Kings demos were recorded at Fragrant Time Records in Burnaby by Greg Wasmuth and Steven Codling.
From 1992 to 1993, Good recorded short demo tapes called "Left of Normal", "Broken", and "Euphony", which featured acoustic songs like "Mercy Misses You", "Heather's Like Sunday", and the title track "Euphony". In 1994, he won a prize from 99.3 The Fox's Seeds competition, an annual competition of local Vancouver-based bands. The prize included recording time at a local studio/recording school, where, in September 1994, Good, along with band members Steve Codling, Judy Renouf, Eran Vooys, and Ariel Watson, recorded "15 hours on a September Thursday". This demo tape included songs like "Second Sun", "The Ocean", and "Last of the Ghetto Astronauts". In December 1994, the band signed a publishing deal with EMI Publishing.
In March 1995, the original band went on tour across Canada. Upon return, the band split up and Matt started over with a new group of musicians.
Last of the Ghetto Astronauts
In mid-1995, they released their debut full-length album, Last of the Ghetto Astronauts. Although initially popular only in the Vancouver area, the album began to catch on across Canada in 1996, with the singles "Alabama Motel Room", "Symbolistic White Walls", and "Haven't Slept in Years" becoming significant hits on radio and MuchMusic. Last of the Ghetto Astronauts, made on a budget of roughly five thousand Canadian dollars, eventually set the mark as the highest selling independent label release by a Canadian artist.
The band's 1997 album Underdogs spawned the hit singles "Everything Is Automatic", "Indestructible" and "Apparitions", the latter of which remains the band's most successful single. Good's political outspokenness and brash confidence were unusual in the Canadian rock scene of the 1990s, and he was soon recognized as much for his seemingly difficult disposition as for his musical talent. As a nod to his reputation, merchandise with the phrase "I Hear Matt Good Is a Real Asshole" was sold at MGB shows. He also maintained a subversive image, sometimes posing for publicity photos in a gorilla mask.
Beautiful Midnight, which saw the departure of Lloyd and the joining of Rich Priske as the new bassist, followed in 1999 and became hugely successful via the singles "Hello Time Bomb", "Strange Days", and "Load Me Up". The album skyrocketed the band's celebrity status and earned them two Juno awards in 2000, for Best Group and Best Rock Album.
The Audio of Being/break-up
After touring Beautiful Midnight for nearly two years, the band set to work on The Audio of Being. The album's creation came during a difficult emotional period for Good. While he struggled to deal with the band's success, he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a disease that causes lesions to form in the lungs, prompting him to temporarily quit smoking. Following throat surgery to remove a nodule from a vocal cord, Good holed up for three weeks in a hotel in Whistler to work on songs. Good later wrote that he spent much of the time "trying to keep down food supplement bars, trying to forget the growing tension within the band, the high expectations of needing to produce 'hit songs' (whatever they are these days), throwing up, and trying to find some semblance of direction in my personal life."
The band entered the studio in late 2000 to record the material. The sessions saw a great deal of intra-band turmoil, with Dave Genn quitting the band before the album was complete. He returned a few days later, however, only to quit permanently not long after the album's release in October 2001. Following Genn's departure, Good dissolved the band in 2002.
Good released his solo debut, Avalanche, in 2003. The album featured major stylistic differences from those recorded with the previous band, and featured the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on several tracks, including the first two singles, "Weapon" and "In a World Called Catastrophe". Good recorded the album with long-time MGB producer Warne Livesey, who earned a Juno nomination for the effort.
Good and co-director Ante Kovac were also nominated for a Juno Award for Best Video of the Year for "Weapon". Despite winning three Junos total, Good has not accepted any of the three Juno Awards he has won. He later criticized the awards several years later in 2009 for not promoting Canadian music at the grassroots level, saying "When it ... isn't kind of this weekend when the Canadian music industry pretends that it's ... not just marketing warehouses for the United States, then sure, I'll be a part of it." Kovac received the award alone on stage. In a later commentary, Good related that Kovac's first edit of the video was far too standard, with gratuitous and generic fades. After firing Kovac, Good flew to Toronto and worked with video editor J. D. Shaw to re-craft the footage. While working on the edit, Good began to experiment with overlaying text and adding still frames and stock photos to help deliver the message. Good noted that he felt that the video was his favourite from his catalogue.
White Light Rock & Roll Review (2004)
Good's second solo album, the politically charged White Light Rock & Roll Review, was released June 15, 2004. Video singles included "Alert Status Red" and "It's Been a While Since I Was Your Man". For the album, Good elected to take a stripped-down approach. Rather than record each instrument separately, Good and his new band (which consisted of himself, former MGB bassist Rich Priske, guitarist Christian Thor Valdson and drummer Patrick Steward) recorded the songs as a unit, with Good adding vocals and additional guitar parts later. Good later noted that he loved the freedom of being able to write a song, enter the studio, and have a recording completed almost immediately, rather than having to deal with the sometimes arduous process of recording layers and layers of music for a single song.
Good encountered controversy with the video for "Alert Status Red". Initially, the video was intended to be a concept piece, directed by Good. However, upon entering the editing stage, he realized he hadn't shot enough footage to make his concept work. He opted to turn all of the footage over to Kyle Davison, who directed the video for "In a World Called Catastrophe", to see if anything could be made out of it. Davison came up with his own concept, edited it together, and sent the finished product to Good. Good approved of the video, and made it available for download on his website. Good, however, was unaware that Davison had utilized several short clips of surveillance footage of the Columbine High School shootings in the piece. Upon hearing about the clips from individuals who felt the use was insensitive, Good pulled the video from his website. After watching it again, he decided to enlist the opinions of others, including MuchMusic, to see if they had any objections. Most felt it was reasonable, granted that the use wasn't exploitative and helped to support the message of the video, a message that they believed was decidedly relevant. Good agreed. He then returned the video to his website and expressed his support for the work of his co-director.
In a Coma (2005)
In March 2005, Good brought in Ryan Dahle and Meegee Bradfield of Limblifter to join his band (replacing Valdson and Priske). Good noted that he was concerned his previous line-up had run its course creatively, and that, as a solo artist, he was graced with the freedom to change direction by involving different musicians. He hoped that Dahle and Bradfield might be able to lend a new perspective to familiar material. In April, the lineup entered the studio and recorded two tracks for the Matthew Good best-of, "Big City Life" and "Oh Be Joyful". However, when Good undertook a brief tour of Ontario in July 2005, he was rejoined by Priske and Valdson.
A compilation of Good's work with the Matthew Good Band as well as his solo material was released in September 2005, titled In a Coma: Matthew Good 1995-2005. The first single from the album, "Oh Be Joyful", was released at the end of July.
Good took particular care in the production of the expanded deluxe edition of In a Coma, which included an additional CD and a DVD. In April 2005, Good entered the studio and recorded nine songs from his catalog, reworked and performed acoustically. As a nod to fans who were unable to find them, the CD also included all of the tracks from the out-of-print EPs Lo-Fi B-Sides and Loser Anthems. The DVD featured the complete library of Good's music videos, including a new video for "While We Were Hunting Rabbits" from Avalanche developed by animation students at Sheridan College.
Following the release of In a Coma, Good began demoing songs for a new album. While promoting In a Coma, Good noted that he might use the release of the compilation to mark the end of the first era of his career, where he could then move on to write "weirder" music. In December 2005, Good previewed a demo called "Black Helicopter", which he recorded at home using GarageBand on an Apple Power Mac G5.
In March 2006, Good embarked on a solo acoustic tour of Canada, which featured smaller crowds and more intimate settings. Good spent several weeks leading up to the tour reworking many of his older songs to fit a solo acoustic format, including rarities such as "Fated" and "Life Beyond the Minimum Safe Distance". He was joined on tour by opening act Melissa McClelland, with whom he played a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt" at the end of his solo performances.
Hospital Music (2007)
In the aftermath of divorcing his wife, developing an addiction to Ativan and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Good channeled the emotional turmoil into his next album, 2007's Hospital Music. The album was the first self-produced effort of his career and was written during his recovery from overdosing on Ativan and a stay in the psychiatric ward. Hospital Music included thinly veiled allusions to his divorce ("I Am Not Safer Than a Bank" and "She's in It for the Money") as well as darker subjects, such as Good's close friend Rod Bruno (who appears on guitar, bass and vocals throughout the record) losing his father to cancer ("99% of Us Is Failure"). The album also featured two cover songs, a radically reworked version of the Dead Kennedys' "Moon Over Marin" and Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End". The album's first single "Born Losers" was also a success, peaking at #27 on the Canadian Hot 100.
Hospital Music was additionally influenced by Good's proximity to Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, just blocks away from his Gastown loft. The opening sound bites in both "Girl Wedged Under the Front of a Firebird" and album-opener "Champions of Nothing" feature men narrating snippets of their experience from the impoverished neighbourhood.
Hospital Music debuted at the top of the Canadian albums chart, Good's first number one album since Beautiful Midnight. The album also marked the end of his recording and publishing contracts.
In support of Hospital Music, Good embarked on a brief solo tour of the United States in March 2008, and began a full-band tour of Canada in May.
Live at Massey Hall (2008)
Live At Massey Hall is the first live release of Matthew Good's career. Recorded at Toronto's landmark Massey Hall in May 2008, it is an unaltered recording of that night's performance.
In July 2008, Good announced he had begun working on his fourth solo album to be titled Vancouver. After entering the studio in early 2009 to record Vancouver, Good confirmed that he had re-signed with Universal Music Canada and the new album would not be an indie release. The album was released on October 6, 2009. For about a month prior to its release, the album was made available on his website for free streaming, stating a desire to make his music as accessible as possible. The first single from the album is "Last Parade."
Vancouver was a reflection of Good's experiences and opinions of his hometown. "It's kind of like the way we were, the way we are – that kind of thing," Good has explained, referring to a sense of the city's "depletion", mostly in regards to the situation in the Downtown Eastside. The album also continued to explore Good's personal life, including his mental illness. He later described the recording of Hospital Music and Vancouver as having together "closed chapters" regarding his personal life, allowing him to focus his energy on a stylistically different project for his next album.
Nominated for "Rock Album of the Year" at the 2011 Juno Awards, Vancouver beat out Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones (Cancer Bats), Fino + Bleed (Die Mannequin), Life Turns Electric (Finger Eleven) and Population Declining (Hail the Villain), marking the second time Good won the award. He first won the category with the Matthew Good Band in 2000 with Beautiful Midnight.
A Canadian tour in support of Vancouver was announced in September 2009 and ran from October 3 to December 19. Joining Good and his band as a supporting act was fellow Vancouver-based group Mother Mother. The following year, he toured the United States from March 8, 2010, to April 4.
Lights of Endangered Species (2011)
Good entered the studio on October 19, 2010, to record his fifth album as a solo artist, Lights of Endangered Species. He again worked with producer Warne Livesey, marking the sixth album Warne has produced with Good. Good and Warne's Facebook wall postings stated tracking was completed November 20, while mixing of the record was completed on December 11. The album was mastered in England during the first half of 2011 and was subsequently released on May 31. The track listing was released in the members section of matthewgood.org on January 13, 2011. The first single from the album, "In a Place of Lesser Men", was released on March 21 via Soundcloud.
Arrows of Desire (2013)
On November 5, 2012, Matt announced via Facebook that he had entered the studio to begin recording his sixth solo studio album. The album will be entitled Arrows of Desire and is slated for a September 24, 2013 release. The album's first single, Had It Coming, was released on May 28, 2013. The album's audio can currently be streamed in Canada and Europe, as a promotion leading up to the album's release (September 17–24).
Apart from his music career, Good has also been a writer and blogger. From late 1997 through the end of 2000, Good published a series of monthly "manifestos" on the band's website. Many of those were later compiled and released in his debut book At Last There Is Nothing Left To Say, published in 2001 by Insomniac Press (ISBN 1-894663-08-X).
Throughout his life, Good has found a passion for politics and history. He once commented that he would have become a history teacher had he not found success as a musician. In recent years, he has made his political views far more public, and has used his website to express his opinions about the Canadian government, the effects of the United States' foreign policy, and world crises like the conflict in Darfur, Sudan. Good has also been heavily involved with Amnesty International, bringing Amnesty representatives on the road with him during his 2004 tour and offering a limited-edition soccer jersey on his website with proceeds going to Amnesty.
In 2008, Good created a new website entitled Dear San Diego, on which he writes fictional journal entries. In an interview, Good said regarding his writing: "It comes from the need inside of me to make fun of people. And my need to make fun of myself. I like writing things that are both intelligent and subversive. There's so much for me to write about – society has become so absolutely ridiculous."
Good's blogs are 'tweeted' to over 5000 followers. Until recently Good made a practice of return following all Twitter followers but recently has found that reading so much content from these followers has left him with no other option but to unfollow all but a few.
Good is also credited with coining the phrase first-world problems.
Good, whose family background is English, was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and grew up in Coquitlam – both suburbs of Vancouver. After living in various parts of Vancouver for the majority of his career, Good moved to Maple Ridge around the time of Vancouver's 2009 release.
Good has been affected by ongoing bouts of mania and anxiety throughout his career, many of which he credited to the stresses of popularity. He recalls regularly passing out and vomiting during the time of The Audio of Being's recording in 2001. Behind the scenes of Good's 2005 release of In a Coma and his subsequent touring, Good's ongoing mental health concerns escalated, particularly following the unexpected separation from his wife, Jennifer, in February 2006. In early 2006, prior to a solo acoustic tour of Canada, Good was prescribed Ativan to help counter his anxiety. During a stop in Kingston, Ontario, Good was rushed to the hospital following an adverse reaction to the Ativan. The last two shows of the tour were cancelled for what Good later explained was a "nervous breakdown".
The following summer, Good planned to spend several months in Europe to write a book. However, just a few days into the trip, Good found himself overwhelmed emotionally, experiencing what he described as the "absolute worst manic episode" while visiting friends in Bristol. He returned to Vancouver, moving into his parents' home. While there, Good began to find himself with an increasing dependence on Ativan. One night, Good was discovered unconscious and rushed to the hospital, having taken upwards of forty Ativan tablets and suffering an overdose. During a brief stay in the hospital's psychiatric ward, to which he willfully committed himself, Good was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The genetic illness was traced back to his mother's side. Recalling past events and stages throughout his life, he has described the diagnosis as a relief, adding "it was like finding the final pieces of the puzzle." Good wrote much of the material for his 2007 release, Hospital Music during his recovery.
Good was remarried on April 15, 2010.
Good's first child, son Thomas MacDonald Good, was born on February 7, 2011. His second child, Elizabeth Anne Good, was born on December 21, 2012.