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Matt and Kim Explain How They Struck ‘Lightning’

Matt Johnson is feeling good, and that makes him nervous. “We finished the album last week,” says the singer-keyboardist about Matt and Kim’s upcoming Lightning, due out October 2. “It’s very unlike me to be this happy after we’ve finished recording. I usually become happy in time, but I’m already totally happy with Lightning. It’s kind of crazy.”

Like the band’s 2009 effort, Grand, the new LP was recorded in the duo’s home studio in Brooklyn, where Johnson and drummer-vocalist Kim Schifino laid down ten tracks of their effervescent indie-pop. This time, though, Johnson explains, they dialed back on the sonic bells and whistles. “With [2010’s] Sidewalks,” he says, “we felt there was a lot going on in the songs. In a way, the safest thing you can do with a song is to make it have a lot of stuff. The more you put on, the less the actual songwriting is exposed. For the new album, I was excited to do as little possible to the songs production-wise and still have them be strong.” The new track “It’s Alright,” for example “is just kick drum, tambourine, and vocals during the verses,” says Johnson. “And it’s one of my favorites.”

Sticking with the Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy, the video for Lightning’s bouncy first single, “Let’s Go,” features one continuous take of street basketball genius Pat the Roc working his ballhandling genius in a gym as Matt and Kim watch from the bleachers. “We knew Pat from playing in a basketball tournament and he was one of the ringers on our team,” says Johnson. “We kept in touch, and then when we wanted to make the video, we were looking for something that had the correct energy. Pat seemed like the perfect fit.”

Matt and Kim will play the Catalpa Festival in New York City on July 29, and the Summer Set Music Festival in Somerset, Wisconsin on August 25. In the meantime, check out the exclusive video below, wherein the twosome explain the thinking behind titling Lightning.