The Empty Spaces
Gig Seeker Pro

The Empty Spaces

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mat Shoare fills the empty spaces at RecordBar on Saturday"

"Guys, was that in the wrong key?" asked Mat Shoare. He was joking with his band, the Empty Spaces, which played a set of charming fuzzed-out slacker rock at RecordBar on Saturday night. Shoare is probably better known as one of the vocalists and songwriters in Everyday/Everynight, and he released his solo debut, The Empty Spaces, last year. But Shoare has filled out the sparse acoustic arrangements on his recorded effort to great success with two other band members, and he's finally hitting his sonic stride.
For some reason, my band-scouting efforts always make me feel old. Once again -- much like the Atlantic's set at RecordBar last week -- the crowd was young. I shivered into the venue in the middle of a blandly sweet set from the Kuhls, a piano-and-guitar band that shared the pink-lip-gloss sweetness of Ingrid Michaelson and Michelle Branch. The Fullbloods, the headlining band, played a more muscular set of sprawling, proggy rock with a prismatic span of influences. It was danceable, but off-kilter guitar and spacey, warbling notes spiraled into a muddy alt-rock sludge more often than not.
The clear highlight of the evening was Mat Shoare and the Empty Spaces. Shoare's songs wore their influences on their sleeve: the Pixies, Radiohead and the Kinks, to name a few. A couple of songs even copped the same effervescent fervor of the Pixies' "Gigantic." Shoare's hang-dog tenor yelped and shouted with a same pitch-perfect abandon reminiscent of Girls' Christopher Owens. (Of course, Shoare probably doesn't share the same ridiculous back story.) Here's a secret: A good show will make you forget the boozehounds around you. Behind me, drunk guys missed high fives and bet money on push-ups with frightfully loud cheers; and I didn't give a damn. - The Pitch

"Local album review: Mat Shoare"

Our fair city has a long history of spawning some pretty great music, from the the jazz heritage that’s too often neglected to some phenomenal ’90s noise. With his debut full-length, “The Empty Spaces,” Mat Shoare more than holds his own in the growing crowd of singer-songwriter troubadors around town.

Each of the album’s 10 songs is well-crafted, -performed and -presented. While there are detectable influences — a little Beatles here, some Dylan there, a little David Bazan for good measure — for the most part, Shoare is his own man. He takes cues from what came before without borrowing enough to seem derivative.

And Shoare’s lyrics are pretty damned insightful. Thankfully, while the tone leans heavily toward introspective, “The Empty Spaces” avoids the kind of mopey navel-gazing that the term “singer-songwriter” too often implies.

That said, some moments seem a little dramatic coming from a guy in his early 20s, even if they work well enough in the song. For instance, Shoare sings in the title track of being “alone for so many years … cursed to live a lifetime all by myself.” It’s easy to empathize with the sentiment, but for listeners over, say, 30, the lyric may seem silly sung by someone so young.

Fortunately, Shoare’s delivery is earnest, confident and pleasant. Even on a slow, simple track such as “I’m Sorry,” with its hypnnotic, pretty Mark Kozelek-esque guitar, it’s easy to get lost in Shoare’s songs. The record is worth the price for that track alone: If you need to apologize to someone, that’d be a beautiful song to do it with.

While many of the songs here reflect on relationships, Shoare’s approach is refreshing. The songs on “The Empty Spaces” often could apply equally as well to friendships or familial ties as they could to romantic relationships. On “Tonight,” for example, when Shoare sings about discussing who did what wrong, he could be singing to a parent, a friend or a love.

It’s worth noting that, as heavy as the subject matter can be, Shoare rocks out admirably in plenty of places, such as “Hold On” and the title track. Fans of Cass McCombs, early Ryan Adams or Wilco will find a lot to love. Given such a strong debut, Shoare is worth keeping an eye on. - The Ink

"Everyday art: Two artists tackle completing daily art for a month"

If a picture’s worth a thousand words and every heart has a song, then The April Project is certainly the window to the souls of two local artists.


Musician Mat Shoare and photographer Sarah Link have collaborated on a website called The April Project. The two artists have posted a new song and photograph on the website each day for the entire month. Enlarge video

The April Project is a 30-day multimedia art experiment between Lawrence photographer Sarah Link and Kansas City musician Mat Shoare.

The challenge? Post an original song and photo for each day of the month of April. The rules? The art must be created that day, posted to the project’s host site by midnight every night, and no friends can directly influence or help create the work. That last clause includes the collaborators themselves, meaning the photos and songs were created independently from each other, with Link and Shoare not discussing their day’s final products with each other before putting them together.

The results of a month of art crammed between papers, tests, jobs and side

projects for the two college sophomores can be seen at

The site is a streaming collage of days, summed up with the cool tones of black-and-white images and music that is alternately playful, contemplative and representative of our modern world. The photos are warm, homey slice-of-life shots that play with light and everyday objects — a cat, a mirror, a desk, a fan, etc. Meanwhile, the songs capture both the day-to-day life of a college kid — topics include sitting next to a girl in class and seeing the evolution of friends’ weight gain on Facebook — to serious time-capsule subjects like the plane crash April 10 that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski.

It’s just all in a day’s work for the pair, and it was work.

“Sometimes it’s painful,” says Shoare, a music and composition student in the conservatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Some days it barely happens, and some days I’m not doing anything all day and I’m putting layers of instruments on there. It’s always really different.”

The project started on a whim after Link, a Kansas University photography student, was told by a professional photographer that if she really was interested in photography, a great exercise would be to take a picture a day, no matter the circumstances.

“And I said, ‘Oh, that doesn’t sound hard,’” she says. “And so I started in March and I didn’t really put a lot of effort into it, I just kind of went through my day and snapped pictures, wouldn’t edit it or anything.”

Link mentioned her personal project to high school buddy Shoare, who happened to be tossing around a similar idea of trying to write 30 songs in 30 days as a way to stretch his musical creativity. They hit the ground running, putting up the blog in the wee hours of April 1, and, by the month’s final week, both were feeling stretched thin for sure, in a good way: Their art had become clearer from the outside looking in.

“I guess I always thought that for photos (or art in general) to be cohesive, they had to revolve around the same subject or simply focus on a single subject, but this has taught me that sometimes art can take on its own theme and personality in a very organic way,” Link says.

For Shoare, the grind of not only recording a song daily but also writing music and lyrics for one every 24 hours meant he also had to let go of who he thought he was as an artist.

“Sometimes I would write a song like one that I may have posted this month but I would just think, ‘Oh, that’s not really my style’ or ‘That’s not what I usually do,’ so I’d just put it to the side and never work on it,” Shoare says. “But because I don’t have a lot of time to write something new, it’s kind of like, I wrote that, whatever, we’ll go with it, delve into it and make it a little bit better.”

That said, neither wants to repeat the project soon, or at least until they don’t have classes, employers and boatloads of other things they have to squeeze around producing art that they love.

“I don’t think I’d ever want to replicate this,” Link says. “But I would definitely like to explore collaboration more. I’ve always thought photography was a medium which was pretty solitary, but I love what can come out it when ideas meld. It’s a great way to look at your art/work/self in a new light.” - The Lawrence Journal World

"Q&A The April Project"

Local artists Sarah Link and Mat Shoare are the April Project: pictures and songs, created through the month of April. Every day, Link and Shoare post a picture and a song that they've crafted on that particular day. The result is fresh, candid glimpse into the life and minds of both artists, and the creative process. We sat down with both of them to find out what works, what doesn't, and how sometimes, you may need a little help from other musicians -- whether they know it or not.

Do you guys collaborate?
Sarah Link: No. We've had people be like, 'Wow, he came up with such a good song for that photo.' That's not how it works. We just do our own thing.
Mat Shoare: We've talked about it once or twice, accidentally. Like, 'Hey, my song's really happy, FYI.'
Link: And I'm like, 'Hey, my picture's really lame.' [Laughs.] There was one day where you were like, 'Listen to the White Album.'
Shoare: We've done that, where it's like, 'This is what I'm listening to; you should listen and see if something clicks.'
Do you plan on doing any covers?
Shoare: No. I have to write a song every day, that's the plan. They're not really April songs. They're not really anything -- there's no plan. I want it to be like, for the next fifty years, I can look back on all these songs and remember what I was doing, in April of this year. It's not themed or anything.
Link: On Easter -- I was sort of kidding -- I was like, 'Are you going to do anything religious?'
Shoare: Chocolate bunny songs or something. What I'm doing that day is what I make a song out of. And you're taking a picture, so it has to be what you're doing that day.

When did you guys talk about this idea?
Link: Last month, I was doing a photo a day, just like this, except I did it really half-assed.
Shoare: There's a guy -- so -- there's a guy named Paleo. He's not really from anywhere. He travels from city to city and shacks up with people, basically. He wrote a song every day for a year. And then he released eighteen of the best ones. I haven't heard all of them, but I thought that was the coolest idea ever. And then I saw him play a show last summer, and he talked about it. And my friend [Jerad Tomasino, from Everyday/Everynight] and I were like, let's write a song every day for a week, or a month. And then it never happened, because it's a bad idea. You get so busy. But then, Sarah started doing the picture thing, and --
Link: And you were like, 'Let's collaborate.' And I was like, 'How?' And you were like, 'I don't know!' We didn't have the actual website until the night before. We weren't finished with it until April 1.
So, how's it going so far?
Link: It's honestly exceeded my expectations. I think they were kind of low. [Laughs.]
You're not burned out yet?
Shoare: So far the integrity of the music for me has been pretty high. I could see somewhere along song seventeen or eighteen maybe doing a thirty second -- I'll whistle and play a couple chords, you know? Which would be fine, but that's what I thought most of them would be. Da-da-da-da-da, clap, done. I play a lot of instruments on all of them. First time ever played drums in my life.
You record all of the parts yourself, and then just loop them?
Shoare: Yeah. On my computer.
So, when I called you earlier, you were recording a song?
Shoare: Yeah, I was recording the guitar part to the song tonight. I didn't finish recording it until, like, seven forty five. That's how a couple of them have gone.
Link: I thought I would just put up quite a few shitty pictures. We're both full time students, and I thought this would be really hard. I think I have a lot more motivation having a partner that I can't let down.
Shoare: For a few days, I tried to pep-talk you a little bit. We text a lot, a couple times throughout the day. A very crucial part of this working is that we did it on the website. We thought we'd release it later. This way, there are people paying attention.
Have people given you a response?
Link: Yeah. Random people, for me. I was completely surprised, because I thought this would be a fun little collaboration that we could do and look back on.
Shoare: It's funny, because I've worked quite hard on writing a song, taking anywhere from months to a year, to make it perfect.
Link: And I went to Africa, and did photojournalism, and then I get press for...taking random pictures instead.
Shoare: 'Cause it's a funny idea. People who I'm friends with, who never had any interest in what I do musically, have paid more attention to this, too. It's a good format. There's a song every day. It's not like listening to an album. It's like, today, you listen to three minutes. It's more accessible, because it's right here - you don't have to buy anything, you don't have to go to a bar. Today, you listen to three minutes, and tomorrow, you'll have another four or something. For me, that's made a difference whether or not people pay attention.
So you guys didn't originally start this for exposure?
Shoare: No. I didn't think the music would be that good.
Link: I thought it was going to be one of those things that was a really good idea in theory. I thought we'd burn out.
Shoare: I still see that happening. [Laughs.]
Link: I'm surprised by how much motivation I have. I've been surprised by some of the stuff I've done. I don't like to set up photos, and I like doing photojournalism more than artistic photography, and I haven't done it for a long time. So, it's been really interesting to delve back into that.
So, what are the rules?
Shoare: I have never started working on a song after midnight. 'Cause it's cheating. We try to follow the rules, and after midnight, it's a different day. Most nights, I'll start working on it at twelve thirty or one, and wake up and see if it's good. By three or four in the afternoon, I've written it.
Link: That's where I think you have an advantage. Your task is way more difficult than mine, but I have to just go out there and do it. I can't build on it. If it's bad, there's nothing you can do.
Shoare: That's how music is, though. That's another thing from this project I've learned: I should stop spending time trying to write a really good song. I'm not writing very good songs, right now, but people seem to like it a lot. Well, I like the songs. I like them for like, a day. I already feel like the first and second ones are like, ugh. I'm acting like other people would, because it's so quick.
Because you've progressed?
Shoare: I feel like I've progressed in like, two days.
Link: That's how I feel.
Shoare: No one else can take a picture, no one else can help me. I live with two other musicians. They've been like, 'Hey, you should do this...' and I'm like, 'Don't talk to me!' I want to look back on this and think every single thing that came out was in my head first. Like, yesterday's was a direct rip-off of the Monsters of Folk song, "Say Please."
Did you think that when you were writing it?
Shoare: Yes. [Laughs.] Direct. Direct rip-off. Isn't it M. Ward-y?
Link: Oh my god! That's so terrible.
Shoare: Hey, if you're going to write -- thirty songs...[Laughs.] - The Pitch


The Empty Spaces (LP) - 2010
Low Noise (EP) 2011



Formed from a studio band that recorded Mat Shoare’s solo album by the same name The Empty Spaces have been interpreting Shoare’s song writing since early 2010. Eventually the three piece began to collaborate more with song arrangements and stylist choices yielding a kind of “retro-punk rock” that is fronted by an energetic, yelping vocal style.

The Empty Spaces have been described as “charming fuzzed-out slacker rock” in one of the many glowing reviews from magazines and blogs across the country. The freshman EP “Low Noise” is now available on Golden Sound Records and highlights the band’s energy and power with live takes of four songs.

The Empty Spaces have been honored this year with many big festivals and shows. For the second year in a row the band will be taking part in Middle Of The Map Fest, a growing festival in Kansas City. And for the first time they have been selected for the prestigious South by Southwest Festival in Austin Texas.