Matt Lenny & The Breakdown
If you've been taking this pandemic seriously, you can probably relate to the sense of isolation and the almost palpable nostalgia for simple gatherings and good times gone past. This EP is, in some senses, our "quarantunes" EP, but it's also a meditation on human connection: the ways a simple friendship can make all the difference, the ways we're too afraid to pursue it, the ways we fail each other completely.
Finally, we want to dedicate the last track, "Fountain of Youth" to the one and only Mark "Mouse" Brunner. Mouse was a friend of the band, an incredible musician, and a fabulous recording engineer with a spirit and a sense of humor that uplifted anyone around him. We recorded this song in his studio back in 2014 and just never got around to releasing it properly.
Recording your own music is sorta like giving yourself a haircut: you never quite have a clear perspective on what you're doing. We'd all gathered at Mouse's studio, gotten sounds, and were all set to record. We counted off and did one take of "Fountain of Youth". We got done and I remember saying, "I think we can do better than that." Mouse laughed out loud and yelled out, "You're f**king crazy! There is no possible way you can rock harder than that!"
Reader, he was correct. We did a few more takes and none of them had the spirit of that first take. I hope I've done it justice in the final mix, but we were all together in a place and time. In one room. Making music and making fun of each other. No masks, no real cares for a few hours. Making something uniquely human and never to be repeated exactly the same again. Hanging out. Rocking out. (A silly thing on paper, but it sure as hell has meant a lot to my life.)
Moments like that sure do feel far away right now, but we'll get there again. It'll never be exactly the same, but what ever is?
R.I.P., Mouse. This one's for you and for anyone and everyone else missing someone or something they love. Laptops and phones are great, but all these "Little TVs" don't quite make up for the real thing...
This is a playlist of live performances, both solo acoustic and with the band. I'll keep adding it to it as we collect more and better video.
In 2020, I'm challenging myself to learn 50 cover songs, write 50 original songs, and make quality demos of all 100 of them. That's basically one of each per week with a couple weeks wiggle room. Here is a playlist of them in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and here's a blog post about it.
Flatts & Sharpe Music Co
Rogers Park!! We love playing the after hours shows at this great little music store. BYOB and a ton of fun.
We love the Tonic Room and are excited to be back in early 2020! Exact timing and full lineup for the evening TBD.
“A simple thing can break your heart” is not only the first line from the first single, “A Simple Thing,” from Matt Lenny & The Breakdown's most recent EP; it’s also a manifesto of sorts for the band’s music. The song itself is three chords and a melody that, more or less, repeats throughout in different octaves, but the emotions run deep and the band plays with the dynamics and the arrangement to make something that steadily builds to a climax throughout its 3 1/2 minute runtime.
It all started with a chance encounter with country legend Steve Earle. As guitarist and songwriter Matt Lenny tells it, “I was sitting in Matt Umanov Guitars in Greenwich Village and in walks Steve Earle. He picked up an acoustic guitar and just started strumming some chords. And…I don’t know how to put it except to say that, when he played G and C, it was every country song ever written. When I played G and C, it was just a couple of chords. But, when he did it, it was deep; it had soul and groove and power. It really blew my mind. I’d been touring with all these loud rock bands (like Oh My God) and had all these chops, but he had the song in every strum. I’ve been chasing that ever since.”
Now living in Chicago, Matt continues to pursue that powerful simplicity, both with a full band and as a solo singer-songwriter. The resulting music is somewhere on the rock and roll side of Americana with simple chord changes and melodies married to heartfelt emotions and old-fashioned storytelling.
“One of the things I’ve most appreciated about the various Americana traditions of songwriting is that, at the end of the day, it’s music for adults. I mean…I love a raunchy Zeppelin or Stones song as much as anything, but it’s revelatory to realize that there is drama and passion and excitement in the kind of everyday lives that most of us live. And to realize that, if you are good at it, you can put that in a song! That’s been transformative for me,” says Matt.
Matt Lenny & The Breakdown’s newest release, the simply titled "EP 2,” was independently released on September 6, 2019. The Chicago-based live band features Matt Lenny on guitar and vocals, David Jamison (Hurray for the Riff Riff) on drums and vocals, Dave Mendez (J.W. Wiliams & The Chi-Town Hustlers) on guitar and vocals and Erik Vaveris on bass.