Matthew Sweet admits it’s a little tough to release an album during a pandemic. But he needed fans to hear his new album, “Catspaw,” which hits stores January 15 on Omnivore Recordings.
“I don’t like to wait a long time after I finish an album to release it,” Sweet says. “It’s really finished for me when it gets manufactured and it’s out the door. That would give me weird feelings if it waited and waited.”
The album was wrapped up just before the world closed down, which is ironic because the guitar-driven “Catspaw” has a certain gloominess to it. To take out his frustration, Sweet plays lead, something he was hesitant to do previously.
“I had been talking about doing it for years,” he says. “But I had other people play lead. I’m not trained at it at all.
“I’ve been around enough great guitar players and played enough riffs that I could give it a go. I think it’s a pretty rock record for me. Some of the songs are doom related, so it fits well with the pandemic. I think it’s part of the function of being older and writing music. I’m going to fight against the onslaught of time. It has a consistency and tone to it. It does have a lot of different sentiments. I tried to not overwork it. I just went for it.”
The pandemic has been hard on Sweet, who turned 56 on October 6. He considers himself to be high risk, so he’s been careful.
“My health isn’t fantastic,” he says. “I’m not in super great shape. It’s been a scary time. My wife was furloughed for a couple months early on. She went back to work in the summer.
“The lucky thing is in our city of Omaha, there’s been a mask mandate the whole time. Everyone, at least, wears a mask. But it’s scary now, especially, because it really seems to be ramping up again—especially around our area in the Midwest, which didn’t have it quite as bad in the earlier days.”
The quarantine wasn’t so bad, though. Sweet says he considers himself a homebody—someone who doesn’t socialize much.
“In a weird way, it’s not that different,” he says. “It’s only different because I can’t work. I absorbed a whole lot of content and watched tons of movies and shows. That’s filled a lot of my time.”