By John Benson
Spend a few moments on YouTube with indie rock/power-pop duo Matt & Kim and you’ll see this Brooklyn act will do just about anything for their music. This includes getting naked, as the band members did in Times Square for its MTV VMA-winning 2009 video “Lessons Learned.”
For its recently released CD “Lightning,” the twosome upped the ante in the video for lead single “Let’s Go,” which featured kooky scenes in a mall-like photography studio. The highlight, or money shot, is a topless family photo.
When it’s pointed out to Matt Johnson (vocals, keyboards) that his partner, Kim Schifino (drums), is the one going topless this time, he explained, “That was interesting. I was in the bathroom. When I come back into the room, everyone wasn’t wearing a shirt, including Kim. There’s also a baby that is breastfeeding, and I’m like, ‘What did I walk into?’ So I just pulled my shirt off and jumped right in.”
Jumping right into the quintessential Matt & Kim sound is what the act wanted for “Lightning,” which was recorded in their home studio. Johnson admits this is a direct contrast of the group’s previous effort, “Grand.” While he still likes that album, he points out that project was a polished affair that found the couple working with various producers in different studios crafting a sound that was decidedly not Matt & Kim.
Instead, when it came time to write the follow-up, Johnson and Schifino wanted to return to the lo-fi feel of its 2010 album, “Sidewalks.”
“We recorded ‘Sidewalks’ in a bedroom at my parents’ house,” Johnson said. “It just has a certain amount of personality and character. It’s a very unfiltered Matt & Kim because it was the two of us. So song-wise on ‘Lightning,’ that feel is in every song. Take for instance the song ‘It’s Alright,’ which is one of our favorites and will be our next video.
“While it has sort of pop elements you can hear, it also has this personality of the live-sounding drums and not perfection. It’s weird. I don’t think perfection is always something to be pushed. Sometimes that loses the things that make us human.”
Apparently, being human is what the music-buying public wants from Matt & Kim. Listed on Entertainment Weekly’s “The Must List,” “Lightning” debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Alt Chart and No. 3 on Top 200 chart.
The indie dance duo, known for their energetic live shows, performed on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” before heading out on the road for two sold-out 2012 headlining tours. Now the act is supporting Passion Pit with a sold-out show at the House of Blues on Tuesday.
When asked what’s next for the act, Johnson said Matt & Kim aren’t the kind of band that makes goals. Instead, the group takes whatever opportunity is presented and doesn’t look back.
“I feel the key is not worrying about putting yourself out there,” Johnson said. “We don’t play it conservative, try to play it too cool or try not to embarrass ourselves. Sometimes I say I embarrass myself for a living just because I always don’t want to over-think things. I just want to do what happens. And sometimes those things get caught on YouTube.”