Matt Frye
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Matt Frye

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Folk Country


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Hard Times Fall 2010



After a three-month bender, during which he crashed two cars and stole a third, Matt Frye decided to get mostly sober and, eventually, to pick up his guitar again. That was in North Carolina; now he’s in New York.
“I’m not a twenty-five-year-old drunk ass anymore,” he says.
The vestments of maturity: He wears a tie (skinny, black) and slicks back his hair. On his finger is a wedding ring; occasionally on stage with him is his wife, Rivka. He is drinking iced coffee, maybe too quickly, and his fingers drum without rhythm on the table in front of him.
Frye says that his songs, which are drafted on yellow legal pads, are about surviving isolation. In addition to musical influences (Woody Guthrie, John Prine, Ol’ Dirty Bastard), and a penchant for documentary film (“I wished it would never end,” he said of Ken Burns’s Civil War series), Frye has learned to draw material from his childhood. His father and uncles, he says, are his heroes – Vietnam war veterans of varying patriotism, he has watched their lives progress and unfurl, and endeavors to translate their daily dramas into lyrics. These are moments that include getting ecstatically drunk in southern forests. These are moments that include inexplicable divorces and the baffling loneliness that ensues.
“I think about these people a lot,” he says, “I’ve been away from Charlotte for a while now, and I want to be able to carry them with me.”
The songs themselves have a dirty twang. They rhyme sometimes. And there’s something disarmingly cheerful about them, as Frye’s acoustic guitar and smile evoke campfire singalongs, even as the lyrics center on the deteriorating effects of loneliness.
“I’m always making sad songs upbeat,” he says. “And just doing that makes them less sad. But I have fears and I think about my fears. I would hate to be alone for the rest of my life, and the real, real fear is that one day I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be just me and the planet.”
For a moment Frye looks into the coffee he’s just finished. Then his face resolves into a grin.