TORONTO – Matthew Good is uniquely suited to talk about a number of things — and one of them is the wild, wild Web.
Sure, the Burnaby, B.C., native is an icon of Canadian alt-rock, with eight solo records to his name, including the upcoming “Arrows of Desire.” But he’s also credited with being the progenitor of one of the Internet’s most-used sayings, which marinated on a 1995 B-side of his debut record before exploding suddenly into the collective consciousness a decade later.
“I’m perplexed that no one came up with it before I did,” said Good of “first world problems,” the saying credited to the Matthew Good Band’s song “Omissions of the Omen.”
“And it’s from a hidden track from an album — and probably the one song off that album I really like, as opposed to the rest of the content which I’m not fond of at all. So that’s at least the up side of it,” he said.
“It was never something where I said, ‘I wrote that.’ I actually had someone email me about it, and it was like, ‘Huh, wow.’ I had no clue.”
He’s also a savvy and once-prolific writer on political and cultural affairs on his blog. But he has seen firsthand how the fickle Web we’ve weaved has evolved as he’s rolled back his output over the course of the last five years.
“A lot of the things you’re going to write about, you can’t write a doctoral dissertation on it, you can’t write 1,000 pages on something that deserves 1,000 pages. When I had the time to really address things on a daily basis, it was fine. But I don’t anymore, and the kind of stress that comes with having to put something out there that I don’t think is complete in and of itself, it can get to you,” he said.
“The immediacy of the Internet is OK for everyone that’s anonymous. The second you’re not an anonymous person, you’re held to account for absolutely everything you say. And while everyone should be held to account to anything they say, that’s kind of why I got out of the business of writing it.”
In some ways, fans of Good’s music can take solace in that. Rising to prominence with the Juno-winning Matthew Good Band, widely considered one of Canada’s most successful alt-rock bands in the ’90s, he’s always been a musician first and foremost — “it’s the one thing I do intrinsically,” he said.
He hopes to continue his recording pace, coming out with a new record roughly every other year, if not more often.
“I can sit in front of recording equipment or with a guitar and I can create, and it just happens. There’s nothing else in my life like that. Everything else is learned, is read, is imbibed in some way. Music is something that isn’t; it just flows out of me.”
Good is set to celebrate two decades in the industry, marking it with “Arrows of Desire” — a guitar-heavy ode to ’80s four-on-the-floor bands, inspired by the “total abandon” of the Afghan Whigs — that follows up 2011′s more abstract “Lights of Endangered Species.”
In baseball, that’s a tried-and-true strategy, mixing up a breaking ball with a hard fastball for a strike. But for Good, this change-up of styles keeps things fresh as he approaches that two-decade mark.
“My last album was artistically a curveball I threw at my audience. This is something that’s a little more straight ahead. I wanted to simplify things a bit,” said Good. “You can keep going down that (abstract, jazz-inspired) rabbit hole until there’s no way out of that anymore. It was just one of those things where that was the mood I was in, to make a certain record. So I went that direction.
“I’m 42, and I don’t think I’m going to make a record that’s as much of a rock record as this ever again. I love playing rock shows, but on the other hand, I also love playing acoustically. I can’t say for sure because I haven’t thought about what I’m going to do next, but I imagine it’ll be something I can go both ways with.”
His sound has evolved and matured since his days with the band — just as, interestingly enough, the iconic back catalogue of work that got him to where he is today, part of that freshening process that comes with the certainty of a lifetime in music.
“It depends on the night — but sometimes you don’t want to really want to play ‘Hello Time Bomb,’” he said.
“… I’ll play ‘Apparitions’ and that song’s 16, 17 years old, and it’s transformed from what it was — this kind of rock ballad — and now it’s slide guitar, and it’s almost old country in some ways. So there has been some transformative stuff in regards to the old stuff, and that’ll happen in the future.
“I’ll never stop making music. What the hell else am I supposed to do?”
“Arrows of Desire” comes out on Tuesday.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly suggested that Good has a master’s degree.