Life on the road is not easy.
Making a record is not easy.
Trying to balance the two? That sounds inconceivable, if not outright impossible.
Yet, that’s what Mat Kearney is doing this summer as the veteran singer-songwriter (he has been at this professionally for nearly two decades) juggles studio time with road work.
I talked to him on the phone last Friday after a series of back-and-forth emails between his publicist and yours truly where we tried to find a time that he wasn’t in the studio or at a show.
“We are in the throes of new music,” Kearney said.
He’ll normally do 100 shows in a year. This year, he’s expecting to perform about 40, most of them on an upcoming fall acoustic tour. Until then, he’s only doing 10-15 shows, including a stop in Lowell on Sunday night as part of a Lowell Summer Music Series show at Boarding House Park.
“If there are some cool shows like this that look fun and inspiring, I’ll do them,” Kearney said. “Otherwise, we try to reserve time for me to have some creative space.”
That creative space has served Kearney well as he has released six studio albums and charted five Top 20 singles on the Adult Top 40 chart, including “Nothing Left to Lose,” “Undeniable,” “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” “Closer to Love” and many more.
“To create a great album and write songs, for me, it’s like the wandering stage. You have to wander through the wilderness to discover something new and exciting. Great songs and great art come out of real life. Writing songs to write songs doesn’t do me any good.”
He’s able to balance writing and recording with touring, thanks to technology.
“When we started, I toured for 2 1/2 years and would spend two years making a record. The cycle was four years long between albums. Technology has made things so much faster. I made my last record on my laptop on the go. It’s kind of exciting.
“We’ve gone back to the ’50s, when the Beatles put out singles. Albums weren’t a thing yet. We’re kind of back around to being a singles-driven world. It’s cool. It causes people to write great songs. If you’re going to put out one song at a time, they have to be great. I don’t mind that, but I’m an album guy. I want to come up with a concept and explore that world for 10 to 12 songs.”
You’ll hear at least that many songs on Sunday night.
Tickets for the Mat Kearney show Sunday, Aug. 4, at Boarding House Park are $35 in advance, $40 the day of the show. The opening act is Santi C. In case of inclement weather, the concert will move inside to Lowell High School. Check www.lowell summermusic.org.