Interview: DJ Purp & Tuba Chat with Fast Romantics’ Matthew Angus

by DJ Purp & Tuba // The Crowded Bathroom Show

WUSC’s DJ Purp and Tuba recently had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Angus, lead singer of Canada’s Fast Romantics, who released their third LP, Pick It Up, this past August. Below is a transcript of some of the interview’s highlights.


DJ Purp: Could you introduce yourself?

Matthew: I’m Matthew and I’m from a band from Canada called Fast Romantics.

Tuba: So how did how did you and the rest of the band meet and ultimately start making music together?

Matthew: Toronto, which is the city we’re in, is a really heavy music town. Like, it’s kind of the music Mecca of Canada. I started like playing music in Calgary, which is way out west, north of Montana. Jeff, who’s our bass player, and I started a band together a lot of years ago, and it was called Fast Romantics, and it went pretty well. And then we were like, “Man we should move to Toronto because that’s where all the good stuff happens,” and most of the band was like “Nah, we don’t want to do that.” So we ended up coming to Toronto, and the band really fell apart and then we started a whole other band, and that happened like nine times when we were in Toronto. I can’t even like count how many members we’ve had, but we’ve just kept the name, so we probably had like four or five different bands.

Tuba: It’s like Fleetwood Mac?

Matthew: It’s kind of like Fleetwood Mac, except like no funny business really.

Tuba: Less family drama.

Matthew: A lot less cocaine, but, like, I think the music changed so much. We could have had different band names and stuff, but we just didn’t.

DJ Purp: I guess from what I’ve read online and stuff, that was around like 2014-ish where you just kind of started with what you have now, and you’ve sort of progressed from there, I guess?

Matthew: Yeah, you got it. And it depends like what Wikipedia articles you read or whatever, but yeah, the band that we have now started in 2014, and it’s a totally new band really, so that’s how we think about that.

DJ Purp: So what were the original ideas you had for starting your group and how those evolved to what they are now?

Matthew: Um, I think the biggest difference is like when we started a band, it was just kind of like… probably because we had these big designs on being in stadiums and like, you know, being massive and everything. And you know because you’re kids and you just figure it’s going to be amazing and there’s going to be a lot of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (and there was some of that minus the stadiums and people in the audience), and then we were kind of like, “Man, maybe we should just focus on making music that we would listen to,” you know. But I think like over time, the biggest difference is that every record we make, I think we get closer to just being like, “Why are we trying to be this caricature of a rock and roll band that really doesn’t exist anymore anyway? Like, nobody wants to listen to you anymore.” Anyway, yeah.

DJ Purp: I think ya’ll are great!

Matthew: Oh, thanks man, thank you, that’s kind. But yeah, I think that’s the biggest difference. Now, every record we make we’re a bit more keen to just make music we want to listen to.

Tuba: Speaking of records, with your most recent album Pick it Up, do you think it would sound like it does if there wasn’t the big shutdown? Or do you even believe that it would still exist? Or how would it differ from what y’all released?

Matthew: That’s one of the best questions anyone’s asked me since we dropped this record, so, well done, it’s bloody relevant. It probably wouldn’t exist, to be honest. I think something would exist, but we probably wouldn’t have put anything out yet because we really had a ton of material that we just couldn’t seem to finish. So I think, and we’ve said it a few times in articles and stuff, that the pandemic really forced us to be like, “let’s do something.” We have all these songs, so we just sort of picked the songs that felt right for the time and it forced us to just get them done. And we did it in the hardest way possible, which was over the Internet. But even though it was more difficult than it would have been if there was no pandemic, for some reason, it was easier to finish the record.

DJ Purp: Did you record it with a band in studio?

Matthew: Well, pieces of it were already kind of done. The hardest thing to do when you’re on computers in different apartments is drums, and we were lucky because we had finished a whole bunch of drums for all these songs. Nick, our drummer, had already done some killer work, and we had that to go on. And then the rest of it was like, I’ve got this studio [at home], which has sort of been home base for these recordings anyway. That was always our dream: to have like our own studio and produce a lot of it ourselves. And so it just forces us to go into our hole and do that even more, you know? If someone like Bob Dylan heard me say what I’m about to say, he’d probably be like, “oh God,” but I really think what we did is really close to what happens when you’re in a room with a bunch of musicians and you’re just trying to do something live off the floor. Because you’re intently listening to stuff that’s out of your control, and you’re completely just on your own, basically trying to react to music that’s coming at you which you had no part of planning holistically. It’s really uncontrolled and kind of badass.

Tuba: What musicians or groups do you think shaped your style of music the most? And if you could share the stage with anyone past or present, who would it be and why?

Matthew: I’m trying to think of some someone that like all of us would agree on, you know? It’s so hard, there are so many. We’re so diverse. A lot of like classic music; we’re all big Neil Young fans, and we’re big fans of obviously the bands of that sort, like the [Rolling] Stones and the Beatles, and those core rock and roll artists. We’re really into the ’80s, like [David] Bowie and Talking Heads. More and more, I think that sort of informs a lot of what we do. And then we’re really inspired by bands like LCD Sound System and Arcade Fire and that whole thing. I’m inspired by any modern music that can somehow feel super cool, and the vibe is there but it’s also super earnest.

DJ Purp: Yeah, that’s that’s definitely what I listen for these days. It’s why I work for an educational radio station… to try to get out music like yours to the listener, because that’s what I’m really passionate about. I like music that you might have not heard before, but you hear it once, and it kind of blows your mind how good it is.

Matthew: Well, it means a lot that you’re spinning us down in South Carolina. We have no way to get down there right now so you guys are our only hope…

Tuba: Talking about, like, audience and stuff, do you have a target audience in mind?

Matthew: I think we used to. You know, we used to think about that stuff, and it’s stupid to think about that stuff. It really affects your music in crappy ways, so we don’t think very much about the outcome of stuff anymore. Anything we can do to avoid overthinking the outcome of what we’re making always makes the music better. The less we think about it, I think the cooler the people that seem to show up at our shows. You can’t chase what’s happening right now because you’ll always be late to the party anyway, and it’s better just keep doing what makes you happy. Eventually, people will come around to it if it’s good. There are always going to be people that dig you and get what you’re doing.

DJ Purp: Y’all have won quite a few awards over the years. Could you tell us about a couple of those? Maybe your favorites, and what it was like?

Matthew: We won this like… again we don’t really think that much about it, mostly because we actually haven’t won that many before, so we’ve always felt like we’re this kind of like underdog band and that kind of keeps us healthy and hungry, I think. But we did win this award by SOCAN, which is one of the organizations that looks after songwriters and makes sure they get royalties. It has this annual songwriting prize that they just give to one artist, and we won it one year. It meant a lot because it’s songwriters, you know, that vote for the song. And it felt like the actual art or the song was being rewarded, you know? There are a lot of awards up here based on how many records you sell, and I don’t care about that.

Tuba: What do you want listeners to take away from your music and lyrics? Do you write songs with a specific message in mind, or do you like to leave your songs more open to interpretation?

Matthew: To answer the last one first, probably both. I would say I always tend to write from a very personal position, and very anecdotal a lot of the time, and pretty direct. But I always try to make things kind of have a duality, because I think, you know, when you’re writing about pretty universal stuff. Everybody’s felt a lot of the same stuff, but I kind of like it when something can mean two different things. There’s something kind of powerful in that. Everybody kind of likes it when synchronicity happens in real life and someone’s like, “oh that happened to me,” or like, “oh, that’s weird. That just happened yesterday.” So when something can mean two things at once, I think it sticks better and it feels more powerful. So I try to do that a lot. As for the first part, no offense to our listeners because I love our listeners and I love that people listen, but I don’t really worry too much about that. I hope that they can take whatever matters most to them. I think the only thing that matters to us is that we’re not one of those bands that makes music in our basement and doesn’t care about other people hearing it. We want people to hear it, we want to make a connection with people. And I don’t think that’s lame; I think that’s the whole point. So I kind of just want people to take something away from it, but I don’t care what it is.

DJ Purp: You released the video for the song “Why We Fight” on the day of Trump’s inauguration in 2017, from the album American Love which released later that year. What was the message behind that?

Matthew: Oh God, how much time do you have? In Canada, we’re like your hat: it’s like you don’t even know that you’re wearing us sometimes, but if you take us out in a freaking snowstorm, it really affects us. So we pay a lot of attention to what you’re doing down there. Like, you guys probably have no idea what’s going on with your hat, but we’re in danger of blowing off your head at all times. Like, we’re neighbors, you know? And it’s really always gross to see your neighbors in trouble. And with Trump and what happened last four years, I don’t care what your beliefs are, like, that was trouble. And I can’t even believe that he’s somehow still dragging it on [in regards to this year’s election]. But I’m sure a lot of South Carolinians… I know what the demographic is in South Carolina. Like, there’s a lot of Trump supporters down there. But I hope that through this process, people are realizing that maybe this isn’t like a red and blue thing or a team thing. Like, just maybe it’s time to maybe think more about each other and stuff. That’s why I think American politics can be so powerful, and that’s why I’m so fascinated by it. I’m a bit of a junkie because there’s this weird propaganda thing that’s built into your politics. There’s this weird dogma thing that’s built into your politics that doesn’t have to be bad. Like technically, propaganda and dogma are bad, but you guys really believe in stuff. You know we want to do something up here, for sure. Like, we always do. But we can’t, so we write songs to try to inspire.

DJ Purp: So what does a regular year look like for y’all as a band, and what have you done this year to I guess to sort of pass time? Because there’s not much else to do as a band.

Matthew: Well, luckily we have [my home studio]. And we still had more than another record written, so we’ve been busy finishing that next record and…

DJ Purp: When’s that gonna drop?

Matthew: Oh, man, come on, we just gave you one! But I mean, sooner rather than later. Like, we’re never gonna let, like, three years pass between records. But I feel like definitely in the coming year. And, you know, between you, me and, I guess, whoever’s listening to the radio station right now, we’re gonna probably drop a single in the next few months from the new stuff. So it feels exciting.

DJ Purp: if you could choose any one of your songs for everybody in the world to hear, what would it be?

Matthew: Whoa. It depends on the day and who’s screwing up the news cycle. I mean, like, right now probably, I would love everyone to just listen to “Pick it Up” off our last record. But I also think like “Made For You” off of the preceding record. I would really like people to listen to it, but that one I feel like you have to listen to it a few times before you give it full credit. But that’s kind of like the epitome of the happy sadness of what we’re trying to do, you know, and kind of represents kind the fact that the whole world is kind of both good and bad at the same time, and that’s all right.

DJ Purp: Thank you so much for talking to us!

Tuba: It was great to meet you!

Matthew: Yeah! Hopefully we’ll see you in person next year or something.

DJ Purp: You’re doing some great things musically, and we hope you keep it up and keep the momentum going.

Tuba: You’re always welcome in South Carolina!!!

Matthew: We’ll be there soon! thanks for spinning us, too!


Be sure to check out The Crowded Bathroom Show when DJ Purp and Tuba return in Spring 2021. You can stream Fast Romantics on Spotify, and follow them on Facebook. Pick It Up is available now from Postwar Records / Fontana North.