MGB's 'Midnight' Gets U.S. Release

Given the status of Matthew Good Band (MGB) as a hit act for the past three years in its native Canada, and the fact that the group is led by (arguably) Canada's most skilled rocker since Neil

Given the status of Matthew Good Band (MGB) as a hit act for the past three years in its native Canada, and the fact that the group is led by (arguably) Canada's most skilled rocker since Neil Young, it is little wonder that its U.S. debut album, "Beautiful Midnight," seems poised for success. The album is slated for stateside release Jan. 30 on Atlantic Records.

"We've got a real good shot," says Val Azzoli., co-chairman/co-CEO of the Atlantic Group. "This is good music and the type of music Atlantic does well with. What I like is that Matt [Good] is his own person. He doesn't want to be like anybody else."

Adds Ron Shapiro, executive VP/GM of Atlantic Records, "There are so few artists today like Matthew Good who are as creatively brilliant and as involved in their careers as he is -- or as passionate and driven by their art."

Released in Canada on Universal Records in September 1999, "Beautiful Midnight" debuted at No. 1 on the Canadian SoundScan chart. Boosted by album rock radio airplay of its tracks "Hello Time Bomb," "Load Me Up," "Strange Days," and "The Future Is X-Rated," the album has scanned 241,000 units to date in Canada, according to SoundScan.

"Matthew Good is a smart rebel with a very bright future," predicts Randy Lennox, president/CEO of Universal Music Canada. "His music contains edge and visual interpretations, which separates him from other artists."

While Good is front man, guitarist, and songwriter, the Vancouver-based group is a fully realized unit that includes Rich Priske (bass), Ian Browne (drums), and Dave Genn (guitar/keyboards). The U.S. version of the album contains three tracks remixed by Chris Lord-Alge -- "Everything Is Automatic," "Deep Six," and "Apparitions" -- from MGB's sophomore album, "Underdogs," released in Canada 1997 on Darktown Records/A&M.

"Out of anything I've done, this is the album that should be released in the U.S. first," says 29-year-old Good. Of the reconstructed album, he says, "Of course, I miss the songs we took off. I looked hard and long when asked to [make a change]. But you can't dispute the validity of a song like 'Apparitions.' I would love to see that video on MTV."

MGB's first U.S. single, "Hello Time Bomb," was serviced in December to alternative and rock formats. The track re-entered Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart at No. 39 this week.

To kick off the U.S. launch of the album, Good and Genn will do media interviews and the band is set to do shows in February in the Northeast U.S.

"We are now looking for a support spot on a U.S. tour for March and April," says Steve Hoffman of Toronto-based S.R.O. Management, which also handles Rush, Queensryche, and the Tea Party.

MGB's Canadian breakthrough came with "Underdogs," which, according to SoundScan, has sold 182,000 units to date in Canada. It was originally intended to be the band's first U.S. release via Mercury Records in 1998 but was shelved due to MGB changing its management, as well as changes at Mercury U.S. following Universal's purchase of PolyGram.

"Beautiful Midnight" was recorded at Greenhouse Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia, and produced by Warne Livesey (Midnight Oil, Julian Cope, Talk Talk). The album is anchored in memories of Good's teenage years and struggles with the complexities and pressures of contemporary life. It is highlighted by such poignant tracks as "Hello Time Bomb" and "Apparitions," as well as such personalized songs as "Suburbia," and "Jenni's Song."

"I'm an observationist," says Good. "I have problems with lyricists who are too literal about their lyrics. If you can't add some dimension to what you do, that's unfortunate. My lyrics are a smattering of everything."

While MGB is a newcomer band in the U.S., the band has hit status in Canada with massive rock radio airplay and intensive support at MuchMusic, and has played more than 80 shows nationally in the past year.

Due to his acerbic and witty interviews and put-downs of other bands, Good himself is often vilified by industry figures there. "Can you believe that some people consider me to be the bad boy of Canadian rock? That's unbelievable!" he exclaims. "Bring the [detractors] on. There's a lot of shitty rock bands out there."

Good's bad-boy rep greatly increased last March when, instead of attending the Juno Awards in Toronto, he went to Los Angeles on personal business. While Browne and Genn accepted two unexpected trophies, Good was at a backyard barbecue in Los Angeles. His bandmates called to tell him the group had won, beating out such heavy contenders as Our Lady Peace, Moist, the Tea Party, and Quebec's La Chicane for top group. The band also won for top rock album for "Beautiful Midnight."

Today, Good has no regrets over his Juno no-show. He also has no plans to attend this year. "I have a problem with getting little trophies for art and going and having people kiss my ass," he says. "You can't subjectify art. Why do I need a trophy?"

Launching "Beautiful Midnight" in the U.S., concedes Good, might result in a delay in releasing MGB's next album in Canada. Tracks for a new album were recorded with Livesey in October and November of last year at the Armoury Studio in Vancouver.

"The album is done except for the mixing," he says. "I'd like it to come out in the fall, but we'll see what happens in the U.S. first.