The 51-year-old is this year celebrating a pair of anniversaries -- 30 years since his first solo album, “Inside,” and 25 for the seminal “Girlfriend,” a breakthrough whose title track was a Top 10 hit and which won Sweet critical raves and status as one of the alt.rock world’s leading artists. He’s accumulated a catalog of 14 of his own albums, plus collaborations with the all-star Thorns and three “Under The Covers” sets with the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs.
Sweet isn’t about nostalgia, however; He’s looking at a 2017 release for a new album, “Tomorrow Forever,” that was crowdfunded through Kickstarter in exchange for advance copies, Skype calls and customized bronze sculptures. It’s a good opportunity to get, er, inside the man a little as he heads to town...
Like so many artists, Sweet -- who launched his music career in the fertile Athens, Ga., of the 80s, even playing in a duo with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe -- is surprised when he thinks about how much time has passed since certain landmarks in his caree. “I would say that it seems like a long time ago, when I was in my early 20s and doing all that stuff,” he explains. “On one hand it doesn’t seem like much time has passed, but on those first couple of records I really didn’t exactly know who I was, especially as an artist. I remember when they came to me and said, ‘We think you should be a solo artist -- and use your real name.’ I was like, ‘Really? My name is so embarassing!’ and they’re like, ‘No, it’s really good,’ and the rest is history.”
Sweet says that he doesn’t need a special anniversary to keep him feeling fond about “Girlfriend” and what it means to his career. “It hadn’t occurred to me that there’s another anniversary,” he notes. “We did a lot for the 20th anniversary. I’m just happy that it’s remembered in some way and that we can go on tour and that people who found that record are still around and care about my other music, so it’s great.”
Sweet is confident he has the goods to please those fans on the upcoming “Tomorrow Forever,” which includes collaborations with keyboardist Rod Argent, Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and Bangles drummer Debbi Peterson. “I think it’s really grounded,” he says. “Some of it’s really power poppy. Some of it’s heavier, but I’d say not really super-rock, exactly. There’s also some kind of super poppy things, more jangley, and then there’s some really moody, slow stuff. I tried to get all kinds of things in there. It feels vital. It feels strong and fresh, and that make sme feel really happy.”
• Matthew Sweet
• Sunday, Sept. 11. Doors open at 8 p.m.
• The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
• Tickets are $22.
• Call 248-544-1991 or visit themagicbag.com.
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