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Interview: Matt Scottoline
The Hurry Frontman Discusses The Band's New Album, 'Don't Look Back'
Summer is here and with it comes a wave of excellent new guitar pop releases.
At the crest is Hurry’s Don’t Look Back (Lame-O Records, August 11). I got a sneak peek at the band’s fantastic new album and it’s exactly the kind of audio aloe pop fans need to spread on the emotional stings from their summer flings.
The first single from Don’t Look Back is “Beggin’ For You,” a hooky mid-tempo rocker that evokes ‘90s Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet, but with a modern approach that brings to mind peers like Young Guv and 2nd Grade. The jangly second single, “Parallel Haunting”—featuring beautiful horns—was released this week.
I’ve been bumming around
Trying to make sense of everything around me
She’s been losing her ground
Giving everything up just to ease my mind
This is timeless, well-crafted pop rock that acknowledges its roots while deftly avoiding the nostalgia trap.
Perhaps that’s because guitarist/vocalist Matt Scottoline embraces diverse influences ranging from The Beach Boys to Blink-182—and countless one hit wonders in between. More likely it’s because this is the band’s fifth studio album and Hurry has mastered the art of condensing the complexities of heartbreak into perfect pop songs.
Whatever the reason, Don’t Look Back is a sun-blasted soundtrack for aimless road trips (windows down, volume up!), beachside breakups, and morning after makeups.
I caught up with Scottoline to ask about how the new album came together, how it differs from Hurry’s previous releases, and the band’s touring plans.
Matt Scottoline Interview
Congrats on the fantastic new album. How did this collection come together?
Matt Scottoline: Thanks! The process for Don’t Look Back started with a long hiatus from writing. My previous album, Fake Ideas, was written and recorded before the pandemic, and not released until 2021. Right around the release of that album, I experienced some pretty difficult life changes, including the dissolution of a long term relationship.
So, moving through all of that, it took me a while to find inspiration to write again. I just didn’t feel like it, and I didn’t want to only write about a break up. But eventually I moved through things, let go a bit, and in loosening my grip on it all, the creativity started coming again. All in all, I think it took me about a year to write the album.
“When I think about summer music, a lot of it is nostalgia rooted. I remember listening to, like, Eagles in my parents’ car on the way to the beach. So, to this day, if I hear ‘Take It Easy’ I’m feeling pretty good. I really love listening to Neil Young records in the summer, ‘Zuma’ especially. Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Grand Prix’ for sure.”
How was your approach to recording Don't Look Back different from Hurry’s previous albums?
Matt Scottoline: There were a lot of changes this time around. Coming out of everything I just talked about, I really had this vibe of ‘let’s subvert all of my typical, go-to stuff.”’
So, first, I worked at a new studio with a new engineer. I recorded the album at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia with Ian Farmer, who is a really close friend of mine. It was our first time working together in this way, and that alone injected a lot of fresh energy into things. Ian is really a dream to record with—he brings a sense of ease and an endless supply of support and motivation that is totally infectious.
I also made the decision to not labor over tones and sounds in the studio (which I typically go crazy over) and just trust Ian, and trust my bandmates. We barely did any monitoring in the studio while we were tracking. We would just turn on the amps, see if it sounded cool, and record. It wasn’t until mixing that I even really knew what the album sounded like.
I also put a lot of trust into my bandmates. Justin, for example, who is our lead guitarist, I let totally write all of the solos himself. On previous albums, I’d write and demo the solos and basically make him learn how I played them. This time, I really tried to not be controlling in that way, and just let him rip. And it worked out great.
That theme kind of continued through the mixing process, the mastering process, even creating the artwork. Generally, the theme was to trust my friends and collaborators, and allow myself to let go and not lose my mind stressing over every little detail. I think it really paid off.
"Begging for You" is the impressive lead single. Why was that the right way to set the stage for this latest release?
Matt Scottoline: Thanks so much. A lot of the time, when I’m writing songs, I’m generally excited about them when they’re done. But there are times where I’m writing and I just know a song is a little more special. Sometimes it’s just a melody that feels supernatural in the way it pops into your head. ‘Beggin’ For You’ was one of those songs, where as soon as I hummed that main melodic hook to myself, I just had a feeling about it. And through the process of demoing and doing pre-production with Ian, I was just getting a lot of positive, conformational feedback.
When the record was done, and we were sharing it around to friends for input on singles, ‘Beggin For You’ was really one of the only consensus picks. So everyone just seemed to agree: this was a single.
I really love the horns on 'Parallel Haunting.' Were they always part of your vision for the instrumentation on that track?
Matt Scottoline: Thanks! And sort of, yeah… The initial demoing was more straightforward, and because the song is fairly simple as far as the chord progression and instrumentation, as I was fleshing out the demo I was looking for something that could add some melodic dynamics. Around that time, I was completely obsessed with the album Melbourne, Florida by Dick Diver, and there were a few songs on that album that used a trumpet in a way that made me feel really emotional listening to it. It’s just beautiful. So, I took some inspiration from that and wrote the horn arrangement on my computer. I ended up writing horns on a few tracks on the album.
“I do feel like there’s some kind of power pop revival happening right now. Though, that’s something I’ve kind of been eternally predicting—every time I’ve had a meeting with Lame-O ahead of a new album I’ve classically said, ‘I think power pop is about to have a big comeback’—and I’ve usually been wrong.”
The energy of tracks like "No Patience" and "The Punchline" give me a glimpse of how Hurry might sound in a club. How are these new songs sounding live?
Matt Scottoline: So far so good! We’ve only really started rehearsing them recently, and we’ve played about half of the new record live at this point. I think we sound good?
I think Don't Look Back is a strong contender for guitar pop album of the summer. What are some of your favorite summer albums of all time?
Matt Scottoline: Hell yeah, thank you. When I think about summer music, a lot of it is nostalgia rooted. I remember listening to, like, Eagles in my parents’ car on the way to the beach. So, to this day, if I hear ‘Take It Easy’ I’m feeling pretty good. I really love listening to Neil Young records in the summer, Zuma especially. Teenage Fanclub’s Grand Prix for sure. I put on Best Coast’s album Crazy For You the other night, which to this day is still one of my favorite summer albums.
You mentioned Teenage Fanclub. Your music often gets compared to '90s artists like them and Matthew Sweet (I also hear some Fountains of Wayne in there). What is your relationship to '90s music at this point in your career?
Matt Scottoline: I was born in 1986, so in the early ‘90s I was pretty young, but there was an alt-rock station in Philly called Y100 that played all the big contemporary alt/grunge/pop music of the time, and really shaped my taste as a pretty nerdy kid who didn’t always fit in at school.
I think Oasis is a huge influence on me. I must have listened to (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? a thousand times the year it came out. And The Lemonheads were huge for me. I remember the first time I heard ‘If I Could Talk I’d Tell You’ on the radio, I felt like it was written specifically for me (granted, at the time I didn’t know it was about being extremely high). Just something about Evan Dando’s gentle melodies and chiming guitars really made sense to my brain. That’s the same thing I love about the other artists you mentioned too. I really have a thing for wistful melodies and jangling guitars.
Outside of the '90s, who would you consider some of your biggest influences?
Matt Scottoline: Definitely a lot of shitty early ‘00s pop rock (which my friend Mo Troper assures me is also power pop). There were all of these goofy one hit wonders of that time that I was a sucker for, like The New Radicals or Nine Days. I just always loved pop songs. Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys are a big influence on me. And a lot of emo and pop punk music that I listened to in my teens is still just stuck in my brain. I think I have a tendency to channel that stuff unintentionally a lot. Bands like The Get Up Kids or even Blink 182 are just branded onto my brain.
“We’re doing a bunch of shows around the release on the East Coast, and still plotting stuff beyond that, including a potential UK tour next year!”
I often say that we're currently living in a guitar pop golden age. Do you agree? If so, why do you think it’s experiencing a resurgence right now?
Matt Scottoline: I do feel like there’s some kind of power pop revival happening right now. Though, that’s something I’ve kind of been eternally predicting—every time I’ve had a meeting with Lame-O ahead of a new album I’ve classically said, ‘I think power pop is about to have a big comeback’—and I’ve usually been wrong. But just in the last year or so, I do feel like the tides have changed slightly.
I think it’s a combination of the new generation of power pop bands, like us, who’ve been quietly at it for a while and are now finally getting a bit more attention; and also the public becoming a bit more open minded with music and genres in general. I think even major pop artists like Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepson have kind of gotten people who weren’t traditionally fans of pop to embrace it more openly, and I feel like that may then trickle down to attitudes towards power pop.
At the end of the day I don’t actually know; but I can feel the genre gaining more energy now, and I think that’s great.
I would consider Hurry to be in the same class as excellent modern power pop bands like 2nd Grade and Young Guv. Who do you consider some of your peers?
Matt Scottoline: I would say those two bands are peers for sure. Others I’d name are Mo Troper and U.S. Highball, who I love. There aren’t tons of bands I feel a direct connection to though in that same way. Or at least, I haven’t found them yet!
If I got in the tour van with Hurry, what would I hear on the stereo?
Matt Scottoline: You’d probably hear a lot of Guided By Voices, a lot of The Replacements, and then whatever the newest release that week was—something novel to check out.
What are your touring plans for Don't Look Back?
Matt Scottoline: We’re doing a bunch of shows around the release on the East Coast, and still plotting stuff beyond that, including a potential UK tour next year!
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