Matt Vantine’s new banger “Drop Dead” manages to do that tricky power pop math equation where shimmery guitar sounds balance perfectly with dark subject matter. Most bands have the technical ability to assimilate Big Star-isms, after all, but it takes a special form of alchemy to nail the infectious/acerbic aspect that remains the foundation of only the best p. pop anthems.
Believe me babe
You’re no picnic in the shade
I wish you all the best
But go drop dead
Vantin spent the past decade fronting The Fleeting Ends, who had an admirable run and some modest success, and pays the bills with his skills as a guitar instructor, a fact that isn’t at all surprising since the man can speak for hours on such geetar nerd subjects as Nick Drake tunings and finger picking styles.
“DD” acts as a sensible followup to his equally enjoyable first solo single, “The Goddess And Me” which showed off his brightly iridescent flamenco “look mom no pick” guitar style. The story is a fabricated depiction of an unrequited love story, employing biting sarcasm to make a lovelorn point about a doomed relationship.
She’s used to being admired
He’s used to standing in line
Vantine’s effective use of irreverent lyrics within otherwise heartfelt songs continues on from his Fleeting Ends days, as does the unique guitar playing based on intriguing, insouciant tuning. Moving from front man to solo can be a dramatic challenge, but this young musician seems to be handling it in stride.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Vantine, who is fond of adorning his guitars with fake roses and tambourine parts.
How do you like flying solo after being in The Fleeting Ends for a significant amount of time?
I loved writing within and for the band because it was to visualize what the accompanying instrumentation would sound like. In my case, drums and bass were always going to fit into the picture. It is, however very exciting to write songs that could potentially go anywhere in terms instrumentation and production. I most often perform with a loop pedal so it’s not problem to reproduce the extra instruments in the song in a live setting.
The music scene is so much different than when you started in 2008. Do you more DIY now? Are you signed?
The Music Scene seems much more DIY in the age of social media marketing. You can be your own PR machine as long as you have your own technology There is certainly change in the way people are consuming music. There are pros and cons to it but ultimately music is more accessible now with streaming services being at everyone’s fingertips.
How do you find using the “socials” to get your name out there?
Social media was never my forte but I love using Instagram. I am aware that utilizing all social media platforms is an integral part of marketing songs to the mass public. I do believe these songs are worth it so I will do what it takes to get them out there for people to discover.
How did you get your song played on XPN? Did you send it straight away to the station or to Dan Reed, who hyped it (thank goodness) on his 4-7 show?
I sent my first single, “The Goddess”, to JV of XPN. He did a great write up of the video or his blog, The Key I recorded “Drop Dead” at Milk Boy Studios in Philadelphia with y co-writer/engineer, Tommy Joyner and he was able to get it to Dan Reed, which led it to being played on XPN a bunch of times. It’s a thrill to hear a song of mine alongside some of the awesome songs they’ve got in the rotation.
Your songwriting focuses on contemporary issues such as dating and failed relationships. Was “Drop Dead” based on a past relationship? You told me “Goddess and Me” was a made up fantasy of sorts. It is a real earworm.
My favorite style of writing is a major or bouncy sounding with morbid lyric. That contrast to me is almost comedic. This is the case with “Drop Dead”. The song is abut a combination of relationships I’ve been in with friends and lovers that have soured over time.
Are you a self taught guitar player? I appreciate the picking style.
My mom taught me how to play the guitar for the first couple of months She played and sang in a local trio called Just Us. I’ve had a few teachers afterward but I’ve mostly bee aiming to continuing to improve both my technique and my knowledge of the instrument so that I’m always moving forward and remaining inspired.
Thank you Matt. Keep on Rocking in the free world.