By Dan Kane – November 19, 2015
CantonRep.com entertainment editor
Matt Thiessen, lead vocalist and chief songwriter for Relient K, a band born in Canton in 1997 when he was a high schooler, was perfectly willing to take the Ticket pop quiz. Relient K will play the House of Blues in Cleveland on Nov. 27 — yes, Black Friday.
Q. You got married this year — what can you tell me about this young lady?
A. “I met Emily (Wright) in L.A. a few years ago. She’s one of the few talented female songwriters out there who knows her way around Pro Tools. I was fortunate enough to get to work with her, and through that experience discovered that she is an incredibly intelligent and lovely person. At our wedding, her father described her as someone who ‘doesn’t suffer any fools.’ That part of her personality has set me on an improved course in life. I’m quite lucky to have her.”
Q. What is the weirdest gift you ever received from a Relient K fan?
A. “I’ve received a lot of hand painted/illustrated portraits of myself. Some exude talent, others walk the line of abstract art. I’m yet to hang one on my wall.”
Q. What is your favorite hangout in Nashville?
A. “I watch the Browns games at a bar called The Dawg House. If I’m going out with my buddies, I’ll hang at Mickey’s in East Nashville for the jukebox and foosball table. If it’s date night, we tend to go somewhere that has a nice Malbec (red wine from France) for Emily.”
Q. Who is the most famous person you ever met — and how did you react?
A. “I got to meet Brian Wilson at one of his shows in Tampa about 10 years ago. It was short and sweet, and I was composed. I’m not usually the type to solicit celebrities.”
Q. Cavs or Browns?
A. “Ha. That’s like asking a mother of newborn twins to pick her favorite. I prefer to watch football, so I favor the Browns in that way. However, the heartache that stems from the fandom is a nasty side-effect.”
Q. When you are in the Canton area, what are your favorite go-to spots?
A. “Mom’s house.”
Q. How does it feel onstage now vs. when you were 17?
A. “It’s an interesting feeling. In a lot of ways I try to channel my 17-year-old self while performing. When I was 17, all I could do was be myself. Today, a lot of our songs still hold their meaning in my heart. Some of the more novel songs feel like an old toy that needs a little WD40 each night. There’s an element of nostalgia that comes with being a band for so long, and we do a good job accepting and enjoying that part of RK.”
A. Is there any new music you been excited about in 2015?
A. “ ‘Drag’ by Daywave is probably my song of the year. Other songs I really like right now are ‘Sedona’ by Houndmouth, ‘Return To The Moon’ by El Vy, and the four-song ‘Parallel Play’ EP by Panama Wedding.”
Q. What do you want for Christmas this year? (And don’t say peace on earth)
A. “A chainsaw. Probably not gonna happen.”
Q. What is your musical guilty pleasure?
A. “Little River Band.”
Q. How do you describe the people who come to Relient K shows these days?
A. “The age curve is definitely a bit older than it used to be, but we still get a lot of young kiddos. I’ve been told that we consistently have really chill, respectful fans at our shows.”
Q. What is your favorite song you’ve ever written?
A. “I always enjoy the new stuff the best because of the fresh factor. We have a new record finished and poised for a 2016 release.”
Q. Are you still a crazy-prolific songwriter?
A. “Sure. Last week I wrote songs with different people every day. Some days I’ll start on two or three different ideas by myself. There are times when I get discouraged or burned out, and I take a break. I tell my friends that I don’t have a job, but I keep writing. Eventually the efforts find a way to bear fruit.”
Q. Can you offer a preview of your Black Friday show in Cleveland?
A. “I’m thinking we’ll incorporate some Christmas music and a few new songs with the ‘obviously we should play these songs’ songs. One of the new tunes is about Ohio, so I hope we get that rehearsed and ready for the Cleveland HOB.”
Q. What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been before a show?
A. “We played a festival in Portland, Oregon, back in 2000. We were as green as a band can be, and we went onstage in front of 80,000 people who had no idea who we were. Playing Leno, Kimmel, and Conan wasn’t the same as a whole show, but my stomach gets queasy just thinking about those backstage moments right before the talk-show performances.”
Q. What thing about you drives your wife the most crazy?
A. “I can be an aggressive driver. I think I’m super-safe and responsible, but she’s not afraid to critique my skills.”
Q. What are you working on musically these days?
A. “I’ve been having a lot of fun working with a few really talented young voices. I have a 21-year-old friend from Lemmington, Ontario, who can sing in a vein similar to Springsteen. It’s fascinating to hear what he does with the words we write. I’m recording some acoustic stuff of my own, and I worked a bit with The Fray and Coin in the last two months.”
Q. What is your favorite junk food/fast food indulgence?
A. “As a mostly humorous gesture, my birthday present from Emily this year was an AM Crunchwrap from Taco Bell. My birthday was mid-August, and I still haven’t cashed in on it. We also bought a substantial amount of Heath bars and Butterfingers for Halloween, while receiving nary a trick-or-treater. I was totally not mad about that.”