Most musicians would like to move to Toronto to make it big in the flourishing music scene. Not Matt Watson. He wanted to leave Toronto. Badly.
He played with a string of bands, not hugely successful, but performing the hard-driving punk and rock that he loves. But he felt caught up in a rat race.
Creative apathy set in.
He and his wife were featured on a reality show on HGTV, Marriage Under Construction, in which the newlyweds would renovate their house and Watson, who learned construction to pay the bills, would work in front of the cameras. On the first day they were supplied with a script for the "reality" show. It seemed to be all about selling products.
"I had a minor breakdown/slash/epiphany," he said.
Everything was conspiring to take him away from his music. Despite doubts from his wife, the couple sold their house, packed their bags and moved to the Sunshine Coast. Here, the songs came pouring out of him. Within six months of their arrival, he had written an entire album. His mojo had returned.
The new, 12-track CD, Riches to Rags, will be released this week on iTunes, inspired by and recorded on the Sunshine Coast.
The couple had visited the Coast before, many times, because Watson had a family connection. His uncle, musician and recording engineer Ray Fulber, and aunt, vocalist Susanne Richter, lived near Gibsons and ran Strait Sound, a recording studio. Whenever Watson visited, he always took time to play songs with Fulber and jam with other musicians such as Tim Hearsey, who gave him an appreciation for the blues. Hearsey plays on this CD, along with local musicians Pat Haavisto on drums and Fulber on bass. Richter sings background vocals. Track 8, Elizabeth, is a song dedicated to her.
It varies from the loud, energetic music of his previous career.
"This is the sweeter side," Watson said. "It has other influences from the blues. I love this album and I can't wait to do the next one."
Many of the songs such as Sick of You still have a gritty edge as if he were still spitting out Toronto. Honey Pot is one of his favourites. It was written in 20 minutes, sitting in Strait Sound's studio. He and his uncle looked at one another and said, "Whoa, we can't ignore this!" It was the start of the album and the start of a self-acceptance as to who he was as a musician.
Since moving here Watson has come to respect many local musicians - Joe Stanton and Simon Paradis, Robotic Horse Mechanical Sun.
"Their new album is pure joy," Watson said. "All kinds of people make music here, and they do it because they have to do it."
Watson has been appearing at local gigs at Boomers in Gibsons and Persephone Brewing's Saturday afternoon sessions. Get a taste of the music at www.watsonrocks.com.