Matt Duke

Matt Duke


Matt Duke is a 24-Year old singer/songwriter who's live shows prove to be a great outlet for his quasi-theatrical, emotional and dynamic style. Recording an XM 'The Loft' (Channel 50) session back in July 2005, Matt has been featured consistently on their 'Most Requested' playlist.


Anyone who caught singer-songwriter Matt Duke at his early shows in the Philadelphia area or on Manhattan’s Lower East Side a few years back would have discovered an artist whose musical vocabulary was nothing short of astonishing. His tee-shirt/jeans/baseball cap attire may have seemed reassuringly familiar, but Duke’s performances immediately took listeners into uncharted territory. A self-taught guitarist, Duke’s acoustic playing was often full of abrupt stops and starts, unexpected changes of direction, complex rhythms that came off more like jazz than folk or rock, challenging the limits of his acoustic instrument. His voice could be quietly confessional at first, then escalate to an impassioned wail, as startlingly intense by the end of a song as it was gently intimate at the start. In a world of heart-on-their-sleeve singer-songwriters, Duke pushed past the conventions of the genre, combining elements of jazz, folk and pop, even grunge and progressive rock, with unbridled emotion to create a sound very much his own.

Kingdom Underground, Duke’s Rykodisc debut, is just as daring as those buzz-generating gigs. Duke is an ambitious songwriter, fashioning dramatic sagas about troubled souls who struggle with romance, life, death and, perhaps most of all, with themselves. His words can be intriguingly ambiguous: the house-bound couple on “Opossum,” for example, might be dealing with agoraphobia or maybe even the end of the world. He can also be exhilaratingly forthright, as on “Walk It Off,” a no-minced-words rocker about a bruising lover’s spat. The unlisted title track, hidden on the disc, lends a cinematically foreboding tone to the proceedings, with a dark, electronic feel to it that recalls Trent Reznor at his most brooding. Not all of Duke’s material is of a life-or-death nature, however. “Rabbit” is a tender, spare ballad at the heart of the album. “Sex and Reruns” takes a sardonic look, with a surprisingly easy-going pop feel, at the self-medicating properties of the internet and TV, whether you happen to be bored, lonely or having difficulties composing your next song.

Addressing the complicated, philosophical/spiritual subject matter he gravitated towards on Kingdom Underground, Duke jokingly decides it must be his Irish Catholic background. But then he says, “Love songs – I put those aside. I hear them on the radio so often. Writing about love and breakups is almost tired. The whole idea of your spiritual unrest, what you believe in and what you don’t, what you’re struggling with now and what you will struggle with for the rest of your life, were, for some reason, the things that were the easiest to write about. It’s very rare that I’d write about relationships; it’s mostly how everyday, trivial, petty problems could be associated with a greater issue. That’s what I get the most inspiration from. And I don’t think I’ll ever get tired writing about that stuff.”

Duke enlisted Los Angeles-based producer Marshall Altman (Matt Nathanson, Virginia Coalition, Zebrahead) to collaborate with him on Kingdom Underground. The singer spent a few months toiling every night at a desk in his parents’ basement, working on material. Then he joined Altman for four weeks in a California studio. Duke, who was raised in southern New Jersey just across the bridge from Philly, had never recorded outside of the Philadelphia area, and he was galvanized by his new surroundings: “All I could do in L.A. was focus on my work. It was a breath of fresh air to be in a place where I wasn’t so comfortable that I would be falling back into the familiar songwriting habits I had at home.” For the most part, Duke and Altman did the sessions on their own, with engineer Eric Robinson, but Altman did bring in a backing band for two long, action-packed days to add rhythm tracks, electric guitar and keyboards. As Duke recalls, “Marshall and I had done the rough stuff, the skeletal structure of the songs, with the acoustic guitar and the guys listened to it. Over two days they cut twelve tracks. They weren’t cut to click or anything like that. All the musicians could hear was the guitar and they just went and played it live. It was heavy. It was so cool. There was such an energy that Marshall was capturing.”

Altman, who immediately liked the “quixotic” aspects of Duke’s songwriting style, was able to help shape Duke’s musical and thematic gear-shifting into a cohesive, artfully sequenced album. Duke admits, “When I first started out, I didn’t know what style I was --I still don’t and I probably never will. That’s why it was so important to find a producer who could cater to the dramatic raw energy but, at the same time, hone whatever musical style it was and not make it sound all over the place.”

Duke has always been drawn to music as a means of self-discovery. As a teenager, Duke initially picked up the guitar for a time-honored reason: “solely for the purpose of getting girls,” figuring out how to play the instrum


Sex and Reruns

Written By: Matt Duke

So you shake through the night
Tucked under the covers tightly
There’s monsters in the shadows
And zombies under streetlights

And the sounds from the street
Like some terrible cacophony –
It cuts through the walls of your bedroom
And haunts your dreams

But don’t you cry
I’d sing you a lullaby
But by and by it’s a waste of time
Take a spoonful to settle your mind
And I wish you “Goodnight”

Block out all your demons
With white noise pills and Jesus
And when I get down I just turn off the lights
I find friends and love with some
Online sex and reruns
And when I get down I just turn off the lights

When you’re lost and confused
But you’re too proud to face the truth
Spend up all your money on a band-aid
To cover the wound

When you suck at life
But you’re much too scared to die
Embrace the sweet indifference with your brothers
And we’ll march in time

Why so stressed?
Do you feel like the world’s a mess?
Well grab what you can from my medicine chest –
And all your worst fears are suppressed
And just turn off the lights

The Father, The Son and the Harlot's Ghost

Written By: Matt Duke

Under this tree
Far away from church and state is just you and me
There’s no need to watch our back
We’ll just simply be
Kiss me honey sweetly with our eyes closed

Words like a knife
Cut my father’s throat and he is seething in spite
Threaten my poor mother so she kneels every night
To a prized god divided in the fight

O’ sweet thing
Bombs away!
And I’ll say
To you I leave a pox upon this awful place
And for you I bleed

So string up my girl
Deviant and faithless and a bane to your world
Malintent with ignorance it’s all so absurd
Worthless and you’re worth it all the same

Starve in my cell
Man is bound in shackles between heaven and hell
Whether it’s worth dying for is too soon to tell
Bloody mouthed and screaming out her name

There was nothing left
When you bred contempt in a shit town
Turning your rats into killers
So far gone
Holy Father, I bit my tongue
But Your good word’s turning Your saints into sinners
So far gone

Under this tree
We grew roots and branches kept a hold of our leaves
They will turn through seasons –
And they’ll fall to the feet
Of the children that come after us

30 Some Days

Written By: Matt Duke

In 30 some days
I’m back on a plane
But wherever I am
The feeling’s the same

You’ll bide your time
We’ll be OK
‘Cause in 30 some days
I’m back on a plane home

So we could be like before
Sans these roving detours
And I can’t wait to see you smile
When I walk through the door

Stand on the shore
Your back to mine
I’ll watch the sunset
You watch the moon rise

We’ll bide our time
We’ll be just fine
‘Cause in 30 some days
I’m back on a flight home

And it’s not about what stands between you and me
Or whether we both can get through this
I’ll hold tight for as long as you’ll let me
No matter where I am

In 30 some days
I’m back on a plane home


Written By: Matt Duke



Every sentiment hangs around
No longer than a minute or two
And I find I keep falling for love
But I can’t seem to follow it through

So run, little rabbit, run

I leave one good hand on the wheel
Been counting mile markers for days
Everything falls further behind
I can disappear in several ways

So run, little rabbit, run

Sleep through the morning
Don’t wake me up
Sleep through the morning
One little man to one mighty sun

Try to break away from yourself
Throw your broken bones in a heap
All your blood and guts are exposed
Your spirit has been begging to leave

I've Got Atrophy on the Brain

Written By: Matt Duke

You wake
You work you sleep you die
A little every night
Well, so do I

You drink
To please, to ease your pain
To hide yourself away
Well, so do I

You dress yourself in excuses
Finding there’s no one that you can trust
Armed with beads on your bended knees
Praying that redemption will come

All of my fear saddles up on me
And it drags me to water
And it dunks my head under

You’re sick
The time you’ve lost, you choke
The bile’s in your throat
Well, so do I

You stop
And take a look around
At all of that shit you’ve found
Well, so do I

I dress myself in excuses
I’m praying that redemption will come


'Floating Mass' EP- 2003
Mad Dragon Records 'XYX' Compilation- 2005
'Winter Child' LP- 2006
'Kingdom Underground'- 2008
'Acoustic Kingdom Underground EP'- June 2009
'TFFI' November 2009


XM Radio the Loft Channel 50


Set List

Set lists range usually from 30-90 minutes of originals with a few covers (such as Bright Eyes' 'Lover I Don't Have To Love,' Otis Redding's 'Dock Of the Bay' and Damien Rice's 'Eskimo')