Todd Mathis Live at Papa Jazz

Todd Mathis Photo by David Stringer

What’s the first album you remember loving as a kid?

I remember loving Michael Jackson’s Thriller and playing it over and over. I even took the cassette to class with me and they let us listen during recess when it was raining outside. We thought it was so “scandalous” when the “hounds of hell” part came on.

What was the first album you bought with your own money?

I had a Mickey Mouse record player I must have gotten when I was 5 or 6. I remember buying the Elvira 45 by the Oak Ridge Boys at K-Mart in Spartanburg, SC. I had picked up the wrong 45 and told my mom I was going back to get the correct one, then somehow got lost in the store. I was crying and some lady led me to customer service where they called out my mom’s name over the loudspeaker.

What was the first local band you were a fan of?

For Columbia, probably Hick’ry Hawkins and Danielle Howle. Both were playing pretty heavily when I moved here to go to USC. I thought Hick’ry was crazy as hell but he and his band could put on a hell of a rocking show. John Furr was playing with Danielle at the time and I loved his playing and energy. I had attended USC-Spartanburg beforehand and was a fan of the Utah Package and Albert Hill (Dezeray’s Hammer) then.

What’s the most recent album you bought or have been listening to lately?

I bought the new Flaming Lips a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been digging it.

You’ve been working on a lot of different projects over the last couple of years. What was the big influence in returning to write and record a solo album?

Well, I really never quit, I just hadn’t given my full attention to this project until last summer. I had a lot of the songs and had been playing some of them in an acoustic setting and recording them here and there. After finally deciding to end American Gun, I wanted to do something different, so I focused on the Interruptions of the Mind instrumental stuff, and helping out promoting a good bit of the jangly records artists. Then I just really wanted to put out an album of love songs after all of the “heartbreak/sad sap” stuff of American Gun. I mean, I love those songs too, but I wanted to try and write happy songs, so I took my time to hopefully do it right. People may not like it as much, but that’s fine. It’s where I am right now and I’m happy with it. I mean, with the current political climate, I can churn out some sad songs pretty quickly, and I’ll be writing stuff until I’m dead.