Matt Nathanson is a genuine rockstar, with seven studio albums, two live albums, and a few Top 100 singles marking his musical career. He also lives in Bernal Heights (and brags about it on his Twitter profile).
This week Neighbor Matt released a new brand-new song and video called “Mission Bells,” which contains a very pleasing mix of San Francisco allusions, historic photographs, local video footage, and familiar views from Bernal Heights. Check it out:
Very catchy! And so stylish! Bernalwood did an exclusive celebrity interview with Neighbor Matt to find out more about the new single:
Bernalwood: What part of Bernal do you call home?
Matt Nathanson: We live on the southeast side of Bernal Hill.
Why did you end up living in Bernal (apart from wanting to be near lots of other celebrities)?
We’ve lived in Bernal for about 10 years.
We came because we had good friends in the neighborhood, and because of the vibe. I grew up in New Hampshire and I always joke that Bernal has a bit of New Hampshire going on, or at least the parts I liked… A little rural. A little homespun. It’s got a kind of busted charm, and I mean that in the most loving way possible
There’s a lot of local flavor in the new song. Is Bernal Heights good for your muse?
Oh man, Bernal Heights IS my muse: Walking the hill, writing at Progressive Grounds, eating breakfast at Precita Park Cafe or Moonlight. I am a card carrying Bernal Heights superfan, and most of the lyrics for this record were written here. When I’m not on tour, I am hard-pressed to leave the 94110.
Where did you record the song?
We recorded the whole album in a studio in Noe Valley called Decibelle. A childhood friend of mine runs it, and it’s just a great room crammed with tons of vintage gear. It’s on a residential street. Totally mellow. I could bike there from my house. When we took food breaks, it’s like a 5 minute walk to Mitchell’s, Ichi, Chloe’s, Martha Bros, Toast AND that awesome German shop on Church where I buy fennel tea.
Tell us about the video. Why did you include so many local scenes in it?
On past records, I think I’ve been too self-conscious to write lyrics that were super-specific to my own life. I felt safe in the vague. With this record, I really wanted to dig in to the places I know and the places where I live. It definitely became a VERY San Francisco record, so the video goes along with that.
That brings up an interesting point. I live near St. Anthony’s Church, and they have a lovely set of bells that play on weekends. Also, “Bernal” and “Mission” both have two syllables. So have you considered re-releasing the song as “Bernal Bells?”
Haha! That sounds more like a retail store. We could totally start up a bell store on Cortland. Everybody needs bells!
PS: Are you a member of the glitterati in Austin, Texas this week? Neighbor Matt will be playing a few shows during SXSW. Check the schedule.