It’s difficult to define, or even remember the idea of “home” when you stay on tour. That much time away and perhaps home is wherever you take your shoes off, brush your teeth, and lay your head in whatever state you happen to be standing in at that moment. Currently, musician Matt Hopper could loosely call Portland, Oregon, home, but he’s had the same on-again/off-again living relationship with Anchorage, Los Angeles, Madison, or Boise. Those places could be where has received mail but he spends a lot more time out on the road. Since June, he’s been playing around his home state of Alaska, as well as Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Utah and British Columbia. Colorado is next.
Hopper, along with his band The Roman Candles, will play Saturday with Denver psychedelic-blues band Dragondeer at the Animas City Theatre.
Raised on a healthy dose of 1970s radio rock via his dad, along with a self discovery of The Beatles, heavy metal and hip-hop, Hopper’s musical taste are wide. The caveat of being influenced by “everything but bluegrass” still offers a buffet of rock and jam that comes forth via psychedelic country and ambient noise sandwiching itself around lazy Laurel Canyon-like rock.
“I’ve always loved music from a very young age, I’ve really enjoyed being around it, listening to it, creating it myself, encouraging it in others, and discovering new things all the time,” said Hopper. “Every year that goes by, there are new favorites that pop up, some you get a chance to catch live, some you never see and they break up.”
The man is prolific. Websites like Bandcamp, which house and sell albums, reveal numerous full-length records, the last being 2015’s “Grand Ole Hopry.” There’s also extended plays and singles, all of which explore a large plane of genres that give a nod to the rock ’n’ roll canon while keeping some audio company with bands like Wilco, My Morning Jacket, or Richmond Fontaine. Shorter tunes maintain a rootsy vibe while keeping it simple; longer cuts explore atmospheric improvisation – improvisation in this case not being the elephant in the room that keeps music fans away for fear of endless meandering or noodling. It’s less jam-band and more sound-track subtle.
Like a contractor that bids for a job, gets hired, works day to day to finish the job, and then starts the process all over again, Hopper’s approach to the day to day doings of music is blue collar. Write, record and tour while you find work where you can and make up new methods on how to get your work to the world; if you’re lucky, you tour to some great towns and play in front of some great people.
“I wrote about 30 new songs over the last few winters and summers. I’m either going to do six five-Song EPs, or just kick out a single with some extra stuff and give people little short bursts with where we’re at musically, and try not to look at it like I have to bite off this huge chunk and spend tons of money to get one album made when its just going to be distributed overnight to the world, and people can instantly listen to it,” said Hopper. “I’m trying to keep positive about all of that stuff and just appreciate the fact that I get to go to Durango and play a good show.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected]