by Layne Gabriel
Kansas City's Mat Shoare has been around the block a few times since beginning to play music in junior high. After settling into indie rock, Shoare found a home at Golden Sound Records for his solo material and two of his bands, Everyday/Everynight and The Empty Spaces. Shoare returns to Omaha with The Empty Spaces Saturday, April 23, to perform with labelmates Honey & Darling. He took some time to speak with Hear Nebraska about his music history, an ambitious song-a-day project and his Omaha connections.
I know you've been in a variety of different bands — what kind of stuff did you do in the past?
(Laughs) I've kind of been all over the place. In the early days, my first bands were kind of like pop-punk bands. I was in a metal band for a little while, played guitar, I didn't sing in that band. And then, more recently, I've been in kind of more standard kind of indie rock and then this band is kind of… an older rock 'n' roll kind of style, but same kind of stuff.
How did this band come about?
Actually, this band was originally a solo project for me, so I was in a band for a while and I eventually wanted to do a solo record just under my own name, but I wanted to bring in a couple great musicians to play with me [drummer Ross Brown and bassist William Wright]. … We made the record and we just decided to keep playing. And, more and more, we wrote music together and just got to know each other pretty well and it became a solid three-piece band. Then we've just been touring and hoping to record some more stuff, too, soon.
How did you come up with the idea for the April Project?
There was a photographer [Sarah Link] who was also doing it with me … She was kind of prompted by her instructors in art school to make sure she takes at least a picture a day for a month and kind of catalog it and so that kind of became a thing. And I said that would be really cool if I could write a song a day and record a song a day and then we just kind of turned it into a little project. At the last minute — the very last minute — at like 2 a.m. on April 1, we said we should like put it up online … if we make people aware we'll make ourselves do it, there's pressure then. Luckily, we got a lot of attention.
Any reflections on that a year later? Is it something you'd do again?
April kind of came around and it was like, 'Wow, not going to do that again.' It's fun to do and it's funny because there was a lot of very good reception, but I never really did anything with the music. But actually this weekend, the record label that I'm under [Golden Sounds Records] is releasing one of the songs from this project for free on a compilation of theirs, so it'll be nice for that to get out there.
What position do you play in the label — are you involved with that?
A little bit. It's kind of like a collective in a way, I mean, it is its own company and the people who run it are definitely in charge, but just as musicians we like to kind of help out and do what we can. We all get together and help with ideas and stuff like that.
How did you get connected into the Omaha scene — was it through Honey & Darling?
One of the other bands I play in, Everyday/Everynight … the lead singer of that band [Jerad Tomasino] was actually from Omaha, so a lot of those connections came through that, and we've been playing up there for a few years now and just from playing locally we met up with Honey & Darling a few times and went on a tour with them last year and have just been good friends for a while.
For people who haven't heard you, what should they know?
Saturday's just kind of a one-off show, but we really want to try to get out as a band — as Empty Spaces, as opposed to Mat Shoare. You know, Mat Shoare has a lot of pull in Kansas City already but this three piece is doing different music — a lot more straight-ahead rock 'n' roll, so we're just trying to spread the word about the band really, and what we're going to be doing and how we're going to be releasing an EP in the next couple months and going on tour. So it should be an exciting time for the Empty Spaces.
The Empty Spaces performs with Honey & Darling and Blue Lights Shine Bright at O'Leaver's Saturday, April 23. The band will return to Nebraska to play at Knickerbockers on June 24 and the Sandbox on June 25.
Hear Nebraska contributor Layne Gabriel has been writing about the Omaha music scene for more than a decade. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.