There and Back Again 

How the Matt Lewis Band spent their summer vacation looking for Soulstice.

If there’s one advantage Lindon’s Matt Lewis Band have over most other Utah acts, it’s the power of improv: Halfway into any given set of funky, up-tempo MLB numbers, singer-guitarist Matt Lewis will ask audience members to come up with topics he can put into song. On one night, someone thought it would be funny to throw out “menopause”'and damned if Lewis didn’t run with it.

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“It came from playing bars; we would be playing four- or five-hour shows and we’d run out of material,” Lewis recalls. “In order to fill up time, we’d find a cool rhythm to build everything and I’d just be free-styling.”

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It’s become a staple of their shows, as have the stories that come from being on the road constantly. “There’s so many to tell,” Lewis laughs. “There was a 60-year-old lady who decided to flash us. I’m still trying to get over that! I’m scarred for life.”

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Despite such road hazards, the Matt Lewis Band have spent the summer touring nonstop across the country. As the Utah County native explains, “People say ‘You gotta play as much as you can.’ And that’s what we did over the summer; we played over 60 to 70 shows.” The MLB also added a new guitarist, Jamie Timm, who complements bassist Chad Bates and drummer Cameron Runyon. “He brings a lot to the band; he’s been playing forever,” says Lewis. “I’ll ask him what his influences are, and he’ll say guitarists that I’ve never even heard of.”

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Timm’s addition was crucial to the recording of the Matt Lewis Band’s just-released second CD Summer Soulstice (MattLewisBand.com). While their self-titled 2004 debut album was more bouncy and quirky, Summer Soulstice shows maturity and depth, tempered with mellow reflection. Even Lewis hears the difference between the two discs: “The first stuff was very fluffy. I wrote a lot of ballads when I was a teenager, and so we’ve matured as a band quite a bit. Not only musically but lyrically and mentally and physically.”

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This is apparent from the first track, “Stars,” where the band recall their travels on the road but then ask where they’re going from here. “A lot of it is a road album. I wrote a lot of [Soulstice] on the road. Music is reflective of life, I think, and lyrics should also be reflective.”

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The Matt Lewis Band’s friendly Dave Matthews/G. Love/Barenaked Ladies vibe seems to fit in anywhere and everywhere. But does the fast-rapping Lewis have any concerns about his end-of-summer coup, the locals stage at X96’s annual Big Ass Show, this year a mostly hard-rock-and-eyeliner affair going down at the Utah State Fairpark Sept. 23?

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“We write in all kinds of styles and genres. We have a great variety, and I think it’ll go over well. I think that’s what the Big Ass Show is about; it’ll just add to the show,” Lewis concludes confidently. “It’s really fun to be at a point where we’re growing, and we’re just watching ourselves grow.”

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MATT LEWIS BAND
The Huka Bar
151 E. 6100 South
Friday, Sept. 15
8 p.m.
TheHukaBar.com

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Tom Martinez

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