Matthew Curry's ascent in the music business has been breathtaking. Barely out of Bloomington (IL) High School, the 20 year old has recorded two full-length albums and has opened for some of the biggest names in the music business, including Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers. But that steep trajectory flat-lined in late 2015. Instead of opening for rock legends or crisscrossing the country on another solo tour, he was back in Bloomington, scratching his head.
"Yeah it was strange. We were just hitting our ... and suddenly nothing. No tours. We were getting pushback when we said we wanted to go in to the studio to record. We were told we needed a hit song. I'm not pointing fingers, but the hit song is just a "pie-in-the-sky" thing for the style of music I do. It's not pop radio material. You look at people like Tedeschi-Trucks, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr. and others are making tremendous careers for themselves without major label deals and hit songs. And I think that's what a lot of bands in my position are leaning toward because the music industry has changed so much. They aren't sure what to do with a band like me."
Curry concedes the lull has allowed him to take stock of his whirlwind career since graduating from Bloomington High School in 2012. One person he consults with regularly is music legend Steve Miller. Curry says he formed a friendship with the recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee when he first opened tours for him. That friendship has a mentorship component.
"I reach out to him a lot when I have questions. I told him about being idle recently. He told me not to worry about it, it happens to everyone. He reminded me that he was 32 when his hit song "The Joker" came out, and that’s when he got his big break."
Curry says he is frustrated but hearing advice from someone who has surfed the waves of the music business for decades has had a somewhat calming effect.
"I'm trying not to stress myself out too much about the fact that right now we're not out touring. We'll keep the wheels turning, we'll find a way to do this."
He says he feels the release of a brand new E.P. and a return engagement at the Castle Theater in his hometown is helping to restore his mojo.
"Besides sitting at home playing by myself, it just felt good getting back with the band, and I'm really excited about the show April 29. To play a live show again, it's going to be great. The feeling playing with the band ... I missed it a lot."
The 6 song E.P. titled "Shine On" has nods to a number of classic rock bands from the 60's and 70's, including Nazareth, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix. The title track sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 70's at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
"The cool thing about that tune is we recorded in Nashville with the producer of the first Alabama Shakes album. We recorded to tape, so sonically it gave us that Muscle Shoals vintage sound. I was really happy with how that song, and another recorded in Nashville, came out."
You can click the "listen" button below to hear samples from Curry's new E.P., and hear his thoughts on Steve Miller's recent criticism of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during his recent induction ceremony.