To celebrate the release of Matthew Lowry’s debut album “Flamingo County” on September 15th, the breakout rock artist gave us a track by track look at each song on the new concept album.
1.WFLC Flamingo County Radio
From the moment I realized that this album was a mentality/feeling that I wanted to embody as a place, I wanted that place to be real. In my head, there was a local radio station in the 70s playing the whole album and talking to me about it. One of my best friends in 5 world (Grant) was a DJ for a decade, and I knew he would be perfect to just play the role of “70s local rock station DJ”. I made the jingles in one day with my drummer Micah and background singer/percussionist Kyle. I knew we just needed to trust what made sense and make some cheesy ass hooks. I also wanted a chance to be honest and real in a context where it felt funny. So I gave some real answers to questions, and hid it in the middle of ridiculousness.
2. Get By, Get High
The whole point of this album was writing shit that was just natural and allowed me to let every influence I had come out. Rock and roll my way. This song is every bit of the Elton John, Billy Joel, and Queen influence that I could muster up. I knew I wanted soaring lead guitars over some tight rhythm. Big hooks and catchy turns of phrase. I feel like I got it.
Lyrically, it’s just me starting the journey of someone finally feeling comfortable and confident in who he really is. I love writing songs, I love what weed does for my mentality of relaxation, and I was finally ready to shake off whatever was holding me back (insecurity, fear of family judgment, fear of judgment from being some guy in his 30s “chasing the dream”) and put it out there. I honestly just want to write and play music. Corey just destroyed the lead guitar on this for me, and I loved letting him be himself. I also like kicking the album off with the sound of a joint getting lit and as that drum fill ends and the lead guitar just rips in, you feel a bit transported to these albums I grew up listening to and loving.
When I say “these songs aren’t just for me, one day the whole world’s gonna sing” I meant it. I believe in this album, and I believe in me. Bring my weird piano pop meets southern arena rock vibe to the world.
3. Coming For You
Bring the fuckin noise. This song is me finally letting myself bring the rock that I grew up loving to my songwriting again. A Florida boy who loves to rock. Little bit of Foo Fighters, little bit of southern hardcore. Lyrically, it’s pretty straightforward: I’m over trying to be anything for anyone. No more fear, no more paranoia. I’m bringing my shit front and center. This is me, this is my music, this is who I am.
4. Something More Than This
Something about combining the happy/ironic Ben Folds feeling with a very Queen vibe of orchestration is just so satisfying. I was at the piano playing this poppy hoppy boppy little thing, and it just felt fake in the best way. Like “Everything’s fine, I promise” and then you melt down at your boring ass, cookie cutter, I can’t do this life. Not that it’s the worst, but damn it could be better. And this is what came out.
I did every single choir part, and that could have been the longest day of recording the whole album. But man, it was so much fun making this vision come to life while doing all these different types of voices. Also, just a motivating song for me. I wrote it almost as a reminder to myself, that I can go for more than this life I’m leading. I don’t have to accept anything I don’t want to.
5. All My Friends Are Selling Out
I wrote this shit when literally all but 1 of my closest friends had stopped playing music and moved along to regular life. Careers, families, and stagnation in the music industry just led to it. And I just wrote this fun little song in 20 minutes or so. Then when I was putting songs together for this album, I got them all to be a part of it.
Just plain fun. Lots of 60s pop rock energy.
Grant “G”, Rick, and Micah are very real. Grant is the radio personality on the WFLC Radio clips.. Micah plays drums on everything, did all the demos at his house, and plays drums live for me. Rick played lead guitar on AMFASO and Deconstruction, as well as being the live bass player.
6. Fall Away:
If you grew up in the scene playing piano, and Andrew McMahon / Something Corporate wasn’t your hero, you did it wrong. But for real, on a musical level, that’s where a lot of this song comes from. One again I tried to let the lead guitar shine throughout. Corey gives so much soul and life in the songs he played lead on, it was great to let him bring his talent in on this one.
Lyrically one of the most honest songs on the album. I was dealing with the fact that i was literally about to start therapy for the first time as an adult, and I just hit record while singing about it and playing. I didn’t want to do it, but I knew the panic attacks and suicidal thoughts were not who I was/had been, and clearly, I had to do the work, because I wanted to live. And I did.
7. Let You Walk Away
This is the only love song on the album, and it’s about a realization that I made after the very surprising and tough first few years of my marriage. (Sidenote: we’re as happy as can be after almost 6 years of marriage, and this song feels like forever ago).
The interesting thing about this song is that my wife was never going to leave/walk away, never wanted to leave, nor were we ever in trouble. What this song is, is me seeing that even with every obstacle that was coming my way (her mental health going through a very tough season, a guy trying to interfere with our marriage, my own mental health / trust issues) that there was no way I was ever going to quit this relationship,, and that I would do whatever I had to for it. “Letting her walk away” was me deciding that I wanted out, and I was choosing to let her walk away. I wasn’t going to quit just because things were hard, and I knew that if I left because I was a coward, it would be the greatest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.
Musically, I was honestly just messing around in Drop D, like a Manchester Orchestra-type song opening, and I hit record on my phone and sang what was on my heart. That was the first half of the song. Then I knew that I just wanted this thing to build and build and build. So I got together with Micah and we just made a bare-bones demo. In my head I knew what we needed to add in the studio. Josh Davis brought exactly what I wanted on lead guitars. We let that bridge start low and build into that soaring final chorus. I really really love this song. One of my favorites on the album.
I was messing around with the circle of fifths after watching this thing about Coltrane and Giant Steps. So I just wanted to have fun with that, and it kind of matched up with this very Elton John chord progression I had been playing with for the intro/verses. I put it all together and added some classic lead guitar lines courtesy of Rick Hogan in the studio, and man we have this cool piece of music. Feels like a 70s session band rock jam. Kind of Steely Dan.
Meanwhile, I’m singing about coming to terms with my own deconstruction of faith/society / beliefs, and how scary and different that can be. My whole world view turned upside down over the last few years, and what that feels and looks like. Not that I didn’t have these feelings/thoughts, but that I was finally honest with myself about how I felt and embraced it. And what that really looks like. I cried some nights, just wondering what it all meant and who I am. But I ultimately found solace in this new, better version of myself that was able to strip away the excess and find some truth and comfort in things I always believed.
9. It Could Be Raining Outside:
This is the first song I wrote for the album. There was no album planned, it was just a song I wrote one day while sitting and playing the piano. Debussy meets Death Cab was a note that I wrote in my lyric book: a great little piano piece and a simple truth. Embrace the sunshine that is here with us now. There will be bumps, there will be smooth roads. So while we have the sunshine, let’s enjoy it, because it will rain again.
I love my Mama. Plain and simple, she has always been the rock in my life, and I will forever be grateful to her for all she has done for me. As her oldest, and the one who got the good grades / set the example, I was gonna be the one that made her proud. And then I decided to drop out of college and pursue music with my band. Years and multiple bands later, I still want to make her proud. So I let all the 90s pop-rock out of me and wrote this for her.
11. Flamingo County
Dave Grohl is my idol.
For real though, this song is the title track for a reason. It embodies the feeling and mentality I wanted to get to. It’s a little journey from getting out of the world I was in and the anxiety that I had, to figuring out how to just breathe, go with the flow, and be at peace. It’s here in Florida with my people, being the man I am, playing rock and roll, and just loving every minute of it all as long as I can. I made a fucking rock album with my best friends, and we get to play shows and have a fucking blast. What else could I want?
I was going to end the album with Flamingo County, and just go out on a high, but I had written this song and wanted to record it during these album sessions. Once it was done, it felt like a great little cap on the album’s themes of living your life and being yourself. And how I had gotten part of that spark from my grandfather. It started as a simple chord progression and I was singing about literally being tired from the job I did, and the time/hours I put in. Then I got stuck on that first verse/chorus for months and months until I was dealing with the passing of my Papa (grandfather).
I thought about all the years of long hours and hard physical labor that he did as well, and the smile he always had on his face. How he always did his own thing, followed his own path, and managed to do it in love. He was a blessing to everyone around him while raising a family who were all very close and looked up to him so much. And then I realized I had been influenced by that so much and finally hit a place where I was ready to be myself and live that life.
We added the western guitar line (shoutout Josh Davis) to give this kind of gunslinger who roamed and lived his own way feel on top of that americana piano ballad ending.