When someone complains that indie rock is crowded with bearded nerds in thrift-store tees and ripped jeans, I present Matthew Dear as a perfect antidote. His music is dark, sleek, sexualized and intense, and he’s got the look to match: with his neatly-sculpted coiffure and sharp, tighly-tailored suits, he looks like the man ready to snatch away your significant other by look alone. It’s timeless, yet distinctly his own. Whether it’s at a large scale festival or in a dingy little club (I’ve had the pleasure of both), it’s a thrill to watch him on stage. He’s going to be performing at Club De Ville on March 14 in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW — but I just wanted to talk to him about clothes.
Onstage, you and your band have a sharp sense of style. Does what you wear affect your performance? Do you think you’d feel the same way onstage in a T-shirt and sweatpants as you do in a tailored suit?
As the saying goes, “be yourself.” I like to wear suits offstage, so therefore I feel it’s essential to wear them onstage. There should always be a resonating sense of theater up there, and dressing up a bit more, whatever that may entail, gives the audience something to look forward to alongside the performance.
If someone was looking to buy their first “real” suit, what advice would you give them?
Take it straight to a tailor.
Are there any musicians, past or present, who have inspired you sartorially?
Gary Numan, Peter Gabriel, and Grace Jones to name only a few.
Do you see any commonality between those three? What about them inspires you?
Fashion plays an integral role in the expression of their personalities. I don’t think about their music without imagining their look as well. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think every artist has to be tied with fashion to be relevant. It’s not a necessary counterpart to music, or being a musician, but more a sidetrack that some artists can get carried away with, producing intriguing results.
I know you’ve mentioned Damir Doma and Carol Christian Poell as designers of choice in the past — what is it about their clothes that you find so appealing?
There is a balance of traditional tailoring mixed very forward thinking ideas. Carol uses very unique fabrics which intensify the suit wearer’s experience. When I wear a Carol suit, I am always aware of its presence.
It’s like 90 degrees and humid in New York City in August — what do you wear to go out?
Black jeans and a white T-shirt. If I need to dress up, I’ve got a few linen items and thin fabric suits.
Is there any circumstance where shorts are acceptable?
[Laughs] I like to wear shorts at the beach.
If you could choose any designer to create you a one-of-a-kind suit, who would it be?
Dead: Coco Chanel. Living: Carol Christian Poell.