Recording your entire debut album and then ditching the results before heading out into the wilderness for two years might be considered career suicide.
But for Australian singer-songwriter Matt Corby, who releases his debut Telluric today, it saved his sanity.
As he says now, it wasn’t so much a crisis of confidence as ‘a crisis of identity.’ Matt had become a star after finishing as runner-up on Australian Idol in 2007 aged just 16. He then scored huge hits with songs like Brother and Resolution, which both went multi-platinum in his home country.
But as he tells WOW247, when he went to record the debut album: ‘I was only 22 and didn’t have much idea of what was going on, I had just signed a major record deal. They were talking about me making a record, and in my 22-year-old mind I was like yeah, that’s cool, no problem.
‘Basically, I got to the end of it and thought what the hell have I been doing for the last three months?
‘This isn’t really the stuff I want to be listening to at the end of all this hard work – quite the opposite. I was disappointed, not in anyone else, just myself, not being able to stop myself from becoming a bit of a trainwreck creatively and emotionally
‘I put a lot of pressure on myself and this was one of those moments – if I mess this up, then I mess everything up, and I’ll have to go back to making coffee.
Matt set up in Berry, a rural village in New South Wales. Joined by two trusted associates, Dan and Alex, he set about writing and recording a new album, and as he puts it: ‘There was this good triad of creativity going on.’
They took the demos and rejoined his band in Melbourne. ‘At the end of everything we chopped and changed between recordings of me playing in Berry and what we did with the band in Melbourne, it’s all kind of interwoven.’
Although he’s been out of the public eye for a while as a result, Matt says: ‘I think it’s a good thing, It gives you an opportunity to start again.
If people do remember me that’s great, if they don’t then your music will be judged on its meritMatt Corby
‘If people do remember me that’s great, if they don’t then your music will be judged on its merit. And then I can gauge whether enough people still like me trying to communicate this stuff.’
And as to whether he’d advise his younger self to still go on Australian Idol, he’s quite philosophical on the subject.
‘That’s a whole existential discussion – is everything’s happening the way it’s supposed to be happening?
‘And if I hadn’t done that, maybe I wouldn’t have the opportunity to make this music.
‘But then maybe I would have been making way better music way quicker and not feel like I have to start from below the bottom level because there’s no credibility associated with those shows and everyone knows that.
‘As a 16-year-old, it could be creative musical suicide as soon as you step foot on that show, but even then I kind of knew that, and I thought what the hell am I doing here? I need to get out of this.
‘You’re being exploited, it doesn’t feel good.’
However, he has come to terms with it: ‘For maybe the last seven years if anyone, journalists or anyone asked me about it, I wouldn’t even answer because I didn’t want to – that’s not the point of what I’m doing now.
‘But now, I’m fine with it, it’s part of my story, I can’t deny I did it, it’s all good.
‘There’s maybe a little bit of regret in there which is probably unwarranted because what else were you going to do man?
‘How else was this going to pan out?’
Engine Rooms, Southampton
Saturday, March 12