Playing The Ponos: A Conversation With Neil Young, Chatting with Linda Ronstadt and Matt Hires' Video Exclusive


A Conversation with Neil Young

Mike Ragogna: Neil, you've always been an archivist and audiophile, so your delivery system for higher quality sound--PonoMusic through the PonoPlayer--must be the culmination of everything you've wanted in a playback experience.

Neil Young: As far as musical quality goes, this is what I think people should be able to hear. It's what we created in the studio. The player is capable of playing back anything that can be recorded today. It doesn't need to be limited to a format, it's not a format. CDs are a format, MP3s are a format. It's a quality level and it's a limitation, so we've eliminated it. We just get to whatever the artist makes and present that.

MR: It will still be in the digital realm, right?

NY: Yes.

MR: And it doesn't matter how high the bit ratio is, it doesn't matter that it's over 96/24 or higher?

NY: Yeah, it could be 192, it doesn't matter. This device will play it back immediately.

MR: You've spent some time with the PonoPlayer, and probably put your own catalog into it to make sure it's living up to your expectations. What was your first reaction to hearing it, and how did people react when they heard this idea?

NY: Well, first of all, when I hear my own music on it, it's a fantastic feeling to be able to listen to studio quality anywhere, to listen to it in earphones walking around in the world, to listen to it through my car which sounds amazing, and to listen to it while I'm traveling around looking at different things out the window and be able to hear the super-high quality music. It's the way the twenty-first century should be. It fulfills the promise of technology in the twenty-first century to this point.

MR: Do you see the Pono evolving?

NY: I think that we've raised the bar to a point where people will now hear what the artists have created, so I think that the only limitation now is what the artist creates.

MR: Could one of the challenges be the education of the consumer, teaching people about the device?

NY: This device is one of the simplest devices known to man. It has every feature of operation, from the touchscreen and the sliding and scrolling and selecting and then it has a volume control and an on-off switch and that's all it does. It doesn't do anything else. You can't phone your mom on it, you can't close your garage door with it, you can't turn your toaster on with it, you can't heat your house with it, you can't do any of those things because it's a music player and that's all it does. it does that one thing very, very well.

MR: Now obviously it would be nice if this took over the field, but with the way people have been listening to their music--wuth MP3 compression, with simple iTunes purchases--how do you get people to realize that if they listen to this high quality, they'll be blown away?

NY: The only thing that you have to do is hear it. If you hear it, you hear what it is. Music lovers, when they hear it, they are completely captivated by it. They can't believe it. It's like a homerun for music lovers. If you love music, you love Pono because there's nothing about music that Pono can't give you; it gives you everything the artist gave you. How do you convert somebody who loves MP3s and has an iPhone full of them? They have to hear it. Once they hear it, the difference between where they are and where Pono is, is so vast that usually, they're just completely blown away. On, there are several videos of artists listening or having listened to and testifying about Pono and over the next couple of days, there are going to be testimonials from teenagers and twenty-somethings from Los Angeles and New York City and everywhere. We're going to London...we're going to be playing this there and videotaping people listening to it. Really, the answer is people listen to it and they go, "I've never heard anything like this. Where did this come from? Where can I get it? How come I've never heard it before? I'm hearing things I've never heard before in music that I've listened to my whole life and now it's like I'm hearing it for the first time. What is this thing?" That's what people are like when they hear it.

MR: Do you think something like this can replace or affect iTunes and other sites that deliver digital music? Would they take PonoMusic and the PonoPlayer into consideration and maybe change their own paradigms?

NY: Well, iTunes has an ecosystem, and their ecosystem is not compatible with this quality level, nor is their device, nor are the components in their device. Their model of commerce is not compatible with this. Whatever Apple does is what Apple does, and whatever they do to improve music is going to be good for music. Whatever Pono does to make people aware that there is an entirely new spectrum of music to listen to that they may have never heard before on the existing songs that they've been listening to their whole lives, now that the twenty-first century is here and the digital technology is capable of delivering and storing it, it's a new world of possibilities.

MR: Beautiful. Neil, over the years, you've been one of the few artists who have been so verbal about wanting the highest quality delivery system for your music. Is that how Pono started?

NY: I am Pono. I just started it myself, it's a startup. There are a group of great people who work with me, and that's the company. We've been together for three years. We've gone through a couple of rounds of investors, and then it took us a long time to find the right technology partners and people that we could deal with and knew what our methods were. We were up against a lot of people who thought that there was no reason for us to be here and that music was already fine being sold on iTunes and it was working great and, "Why try to fix something that's not broken?" We didn't have a format but we didn't want a format because formats all compromise the quality of music, and a format is not necessary in the twenty-first century. Not having a format means that investors have a hard time wrapping themselves around something when they don't own something. This is like, "Okay, we're Kleenex. We're Kleenex and there are going to be other tissues, but we're Kleenex and we make a great tissue. We think it's the best tissue in the world, so we're going to make it so good that everyone calls every tissue 'Kleenex.'" All great music is Pono music. Pono is a Hawaiian word for righteous. Goodness.

MR: Where there moments along the line where you were just so excited about the concept and device that you just wanted to get it out there already?

NY: I've wanted to get it out there for a long time. We've hit plenty of bumps on the road trying to get it out. We've had to change partners, we've had to make changes in our team because we couldn't come to good business decisions that worked for us, and we had people that were with us who were against the way we wanted to do it. We couldn't make the compromises that they wanted, so we stopped dealing with them and started dealing with other people who wanted to do it without compromising the quality, without making concessions to make a format, without doing things that would enable others to own what we were doing. We think the only people who own it are the people who create it. That's the artist. That's what it's about.

MR: I have a feeling one of the ways to get the word out on Pono is to introduce the technology to new artists, ones who are less married to what's come before. Do you think that might be another way to do this?

NY: I'm not really concerned with selling it, I'm concerned with creating it. I think it sells itself. It's not a typical product. It is something that you hear and you go, "Oh my God, I've never heard anything like that before in my life. Where can I get it? I want it. I don't want to give it up, I don't even want to give it back to you." That's what people say to me when we let them listen to it.

MR: I'm imagining that was the reaction when you introduced this to South By Southwest. It must have been overwhelming.

NY: It was, and it continues to be overwhelming. We're headed to six million dollars, we started at eight-hundred thousand. We will blow through six million, and it's possible that we may hit higher marks than that. But we can use all we can get, because what we're trying to do is change the face of music, and that's where all of this money goes.

MR: Mostly when I mentioned new artists I mean that they'd be open to starting their creations and perhaps back collections on it.

NY: New creators, when they create the music they make choices. They decide, "What's the technology we're using? What resolution are we going to record in? How many bits do we want to record in?" Whatever they decide, we play it back.

MR: Speaking of new artists, what advice do you have for new artists?

NY: Write songs. Write songs from the heart, play your music, make it matter. That's all you can do.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne


A Conversation with Linda Ronstadt

Mike Ragogna: Linda, let's dive into Duets, your new collection that celebrates your collaborations with other artists. What is it about Duets that's particularly special to you? And what is it that's so attractive about singing with someone else?

Linda Ronstadt: There's nothing I like better, I have to say that. I'd much rather sing a duet than be in a trio or solo. Harmonically, you have a lot of room to fly. There's not somebody on the next part, so you can take the third part or you can take the second part, you can go all over the place. The thing that I notice is that whoever it is I'm singing with, I take on the qualities of their voice and I can sing a in a totally different way than if I were singing by myself. I wouldn't reach for those textures or I wouldn't know how to do it, but once you're singing with somebody else, it's a chameleon-like reflective quality that happens automatically and you start just tuning-in with them and assuming their colors and their textures and their way of shading pitch. Everybody has a different way of approaching pitch. There's no such thing as absolute pitch, people are sliding in and out of it all the time. A lot of different styles of music, like folk music, for instance, has a way of dealing with that that's not out of tune ever. In fact, the more traditional musics are, the more demanding pitch is, but the more it slides in and out. It's not like classical music where you just sort of go right to the center of it all the time, you know?

MR: Exactly, yeah. And you've had a musical career and education that's pretty extensive, having sung not only pop and folk and country, but also classical, jazz and swing, in choral groups, in trios, in've really run the gamut.

LR: They're all different vocal techniques. There's a whole different technique to singing in a choir, which I was never able to get enough of. I love singing in the choir, it's so much fun because you get to have the power of everybody else's voice and ride on it, and it increases your own power, but there's just something incredibly great about a duet that is so intimate and so personal. There's so much room to create and bank up stuff harmonically and texturally.

MR: There's such a difference in your approach when you're singing with a specific partner, ranging from "Adieu False Heart" with Ann Savoy to "Sisters" with Bette Midler...

LR: And I loved singing with Ann Savoy. I felt like we were two sisters sitting outside on the stairs of the porch next to the washtub, taking a little time to just rest and sing our sorrows or our joys or our hopes or whatever. There's a certain kind of gamut of female love that happens as you go through life. It's not all romantic love. We listen to pop music on the radio and think that the only kind of love that exists is romantic, but once you have children you find out something else; there's love that you have for your siblings, there's love that you have for your dear friends, there's love for people that you knew in the past, love for people who are dead already. There are all different kinds of love. Ann and I really explored that with our record.

MR: It's seems like it's not just about bringing out the nuances of a song and its melody and lyrics and interpretation, but the nuances of life in general that you're trying to bring out as well.

LR: It really is. The hardest thing on this record was trying to see what fit. There are so many different kinds of music and it's a completely different voice depending on what style. So, you know, when you compare something I'm singing with Bette Midler to something I sang with Dolly Parton or something I'm singing with Ann, you couldn't get more different.

MR: I feel there's a nice transition that happens sequentially right between "Prisoner In Disguise" and "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine" that you do with James Taylor. That's where you take on the biggest musical shift, and then you do it again as the album progresses.

LR: I started out with the most traditional stuff I could do that was the emptiest and the plainest and just added and added and added. It started out all acoustic and went into electric and finally into the orchestra at the end with Sinatra.

MR: Let's talk about a couple of the duets, "Sisters," first of all, with Bette Midler.

LR: I loved doing that. We had so much fun. I love Bette Midler, I'm a huge Bette Midler fan. I think she is just an incredibly brilliant, wonderful, intelligent talent and she's so creative and she's such a wonderful writer and she just does it all herself, you know? It's hard to find a talent like that where she's just making it all up herself. She knows when to delegate and add stuff, she invents all of these characters, I love her.

MR: Yeah, and you not only sound like sisters, you sound like twins on that one.

LR: [laughs] Oh, we're both chameleons, so we're both kind of reflecting each other. But she has a little delighted, delicious... It's her sense of humor that comes out in the middle of that song; it's the little gleam in her eyes, that wicked little sense of humor. She's just absolutely naughty. When she sings, she has that undercurrent of a stripper's "buh-boom, buh-boom, buh-boom" kind of thing. [laughs] The two sisters in business selling it out there, it's so great. It's such a conspiratorial little thing she was sharing with me.


MR: One of the songs that you've recorded touched me deeply when I first heard it and it's been one of my favorite recordings by you, "Prisoner In Disguise." What a gem, and it's included in the collection, nice.

LR: Oh yeah, with J.D. Souther. He and I were lovers, but we were friends, and we are still. We had a strong musical friendship. It was really, really coming from a shared sensibility of listening to stuff together for years and him writing and just beating his head against the moon trying to think of something good to write. I could see that struggle, I knew what went into writing that song. It's very, very hard to write a good song, and he wrote a wonderful song there. J.D. Souther is also an amazingly good harmony singer, I don't know if people realize that.

MR: Right, I especially like his own duet with James Taylor, "Her Town Too." And he sounds great backing up others...just like you!

LR: His voice is really good in a stack. Like on "Rider In The Rain" with Randy Newman and the Eagles, his voice in that stack gives it a real grind that's just not present when it's not there. I love to sing with him. There's an intimacy you get when you sing with somebody like that, especially on a song they wrote. You're climbing around in the rigging and the craft of whatever they wrote and in that case, I knew a lot of what he was going through emotionally because I was living with him and we were singing together on a pretty regular basis. So we had a pretty good thing worked out; we didn't even realize we were rehearsing so much, we were just singing together.

MR: I never considered this before now but was "Prisoner In Disguise" written about your relationship with J.D.?

LR: I don't know if it was about our relationship, I think it was written about a bunch of relationships, ours included or maybe the future ones to come. It's how you felt about how you fit into what you do for a living and how you fit into the community at large. It's hard to realize the emotional risk that is involved with hanging out with a bunch of people who are as talented as Jackson Browne and Don Henley and J.D. Souther and Warren Zevon and Jimmy Webb. They're incredibly good and talented. And then there was Joni MItchell and Neil Young and James Taylor and all of the ballad people, everybody was comparing themselves fairly or unfairly to each other in some way or another, and you always came up short in some way no matter who you were.

MR: Yeah, but it was the material, too. Take for instance the brilliant Warren Zevon. You recorded many of his songs and there was something so sly and smart and true about his lyrics that was perfect for your voice. On this collection, his material is repped by "Hasten Down The Wind," your duet with Don Henley. Hmm, something else that just came to me is that Linda Ronstadt may have that six degrees thing going on, just like Kevin Bacon.

LR: [laughs] Well, we were all hanging around the Troubadour in those days and we knew each other as musicians and we knew each other's songs and we knew what each other was trying to reach for. There was a lot of competition, but there was also a lot of mutual encouragement and support. A guy like Jackson, he'd come and listen to J.D.'s songs and tell him what he liked and what he didn't like and he's really make him feel like he could do it, and J.D. did the same thing for Jackson. In their weird, left-handed way, they all did it for each other. It was an impressive bunch of people. They all had terrible insecurities and could've just been evil monsters; sometimes they were, but that's not what dominated the scene. It was really a kind of mutual respect. You had to pull your weight. They weren't going to bring you along if you didn't have any talent, that's for sure.

MR: What was it like picking out the material for your albums?

LR: I have a cassette recording of Jackson Browne talking me into singing "...Pitiful Me," saying, "You could sing this!" I really wanted to sing it, but one of the verses said, "I met a girl in Hollywood, she asked me if I'd beat her, took me back to her hotel room and wrecked my mojo heater." [laughs] I said, "I don't think I can sing that verse. I'm not into that kind of thing at all. Valentine's Day, dinner, courtship, I like all that." He said, "Oh, no, it's not you that's wanting to do it, it's him!" and I said, "I wouldn't go back to the hotel with him if that's what he's into." We finally just left that verse out and there were enough verses that it worked out okay, but it was funny, this discussion between the two of us. Of course, what was going on at the time was that Jackson was producing a record at the time for Warren with Waddy Wachtel and they were just so into Warren's songs at that time. I had moved into an apartment that had been occupied by Warren and his wife Tule and their child. J.D. and I moved into their old apartment. J.D. and I knew him, and J.D. was learning his songs. Songwriters will play a lot other people's songs too; they don't just play their own songs at home. So he played Warren's songs. He played "Hasten Down The Wind" and others. I knew the songs, but I didn't know Warren very well. He was an incredibly shy person and I think incredibly drunk for a lot of life. He got sober after a while, but I didn't find him very easy to communicate with. His eyes were always on the ground when I was around. He kept quiet.

MR: On the other hand, you did some of the communicating on his behalf when you recorded his material. What a great album artist he was.

LR: That record he made that had "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner" on it...what a brilliant record. Talk about an original and really good musician with incredibly well-crafted lyrics. I know writers like Orville Schell, for instance, the China expert who is head of the journalism department at Berkeley. He was such a fan of that record. He listened to it over and over and over again. It really informed his writing.

MR: And you were the one who made the final decision on what songs to record, right?

LR: I was the only one who ever chose material. Nobody else ever chose material for me, I always brought in what I wanted to do and how I wanted to approach it. Peter Asher was very good at helping me execute what my inclination was. Execution is a huge part of it, but really what you want to do is all of it. It's the singer and the song. Then the rest of it is executive function, which Peter Asher is incredibly good at. But I came up with the arrangement ideas and who the personnel would be and lots of times he would make suggestions about musicians or I would but the approach to the arrangements and the arrangements themselves I did.

MR: And some of the vocal partnering, like you and Aaron Neville...who knew? Well, you knew, obviously.

LR: [laughs] Well, anybody who's ever heard "Tell It Like It Is" knows that's one of the great vocal performances of all time on a recording. When The Neville Brothers would come to town when I lived in LA all those years, it was a big deal. There was a telephone chain that suddenly would spring up, my bass player would call somebody else's guitar player and suddenly the whole town would turn up, the entire musical world. When we were in New Orleans, I found I was playing The World's Fair with Nelson Riddle and the orchestra. The guy that was traveling with us playing sax was a great national treasure. Clarence Johnson said, "Oh, the Neville brothers are playing," and we were down there getting cars organized. The whole band, the whole crew, everybody that who was traveling with us wanted to see The Neville Brothers. I walked into the club while they were playing and I didn't know he knew me from Adam, but he invited me up on stage to sing, and that's something I ordinarily would never do. I like to rehearse, I don't like to stand up on stage not knowing what I'm doing. But I just went up there like a zombie, his wish was my command, and I said, "Well what are we going to do?" He said, "We're going to sing some doo-wop," and I went, "Fine, I know how to navigate myself in the high harmonies of doo-wop." It's basically soprano register, so I was fine there, but I woke up the next morning thinking, "God, we sounded really good together," and then I thought, "You idiot, everybody thinks they sound pretty good when they're singing with Aaron Neville." But I went to bed absolutely thinking we had to record with Aaron Neville. "There's no way I'm going to NOT do it, I have to sing with Aaron Neville!" The next morning, I woke up feeling like an absolute idiot, but then Aaron called me a couple months later and asked me back to sing with him on some benefit he was doing, so that's what started it. I was just flabbergasted when he wanted me to come and sing with him. I was so delighted. I got on the plane so fast.

MR: Wow. One other thing that's in the news about you lately is that you're going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How do you feel about that?

LR: I never gave it a thought, really. It's just something I didn't know about. I didn't have a TV for thirty years, so I didn't even know it was a television event.

MR: Okay, so I believe Linda Ronstadt is not only one of the greatest vocalists of all time, but you're behind starting a few careers and putting certain musical trends in motion. For instance, I think you should get credit for being behind the formation of the Eagles, and there's the spotlight you put on artists such as Karla Bonnoff, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, and others. And you did that while rocking pretty solidly.

LR: The point is I never thought of myself as a rock 'n' roll singer. I sang it, but that's not how I ever defined myself.

MR: But you were behind a lot of others' success, and I think it's hard sometimes for influential artists to see that.

LR: I think those artists' talent speaks for itself. It'd be pretty hard to say that the Eagles wouldn't have eventually found their way. I introduced them to each other, and John Boylan and I had something to do with putting them together in the same band to make them discover they liked playing with each other. But the rest was up to them. It was their talent and creativity that made them successful. It didn't have anything to do with me. I would like it to have had something to do with me, but it really didn't. It was them writing songs together and doing their harmonies. They're fabulous. And look how it's lasted, even to this day. The integrity of their music is still very much in tact

MR: Speaking of the Eagles, you mentioned "Rider In The Rain" earlier. That's one of my favorite Randy Newman recordings.

LR: Ah, it's one of my all-time favorite recordings ever. It's just fabulous. "Take it boys," and off they go, riding into the musical sunset. It just comes in so smooth and beautiful.

MR: Even beyond their own records, I think that was a really classic moment for the Eagles.

LR: And that gunslinger attitude! With The Gentlemen of The Great Indoors! [laughs] It's just fabulous. Randy's up there like the greatest puppet master of all time pulling the strings. He's so brilliant. He makes a joke on a joke on a joke. You'll be singing a joke about yourself and you won't even know it, or you do and you're just willing to put up with it because he's such a genius.

MR: I'm kind of amazed that there weren't more Randy Newman songs covered by you, but some singers just shy away because they're just so amazing and hard to interpret just right.

LR: They're hard to sing, they're multi-layered with irony, humor, bitterness, disgust. When all of those things are layered into one note, it's pretty hard to get your mouth around something like that. There are singers who can handle it. Bonnie Raitt did an incredible job on "Guilty." She nailed it. The stuff that I was doing on Faust, because I was doing a character, I think I nailed that pretty well. But to take one of those songs that Randy writes that's kind of like a commentary on a character and the culture, it's just so complex and to be able to nail it. I think Jennifer Warnes can kind of get Randy, too. She's a great singer.

MR: There are a couple of duets that I'm sure didn't make the package due to licensing or just not fitting with the others. One of them is with the late Phoebe Snow who I also loved. It was your duet of her "Married Men."

LR: [laughs] That was our little girl talk conversation that we turned into music. It's just an amazing song. I love The Roches. I used to go down to The Bottom Line to hear them sing. I'm still friends with Terre. She and I correspond all the time, she's so smart. She wrote a book, I read her book and I really liked it.


MR: Speaking of books, you wrote one of your own, Simple Dreams. Was it a hard book to write?

LR: It was hard to write because I have Parkinson's disease and I can't type really well. That was the worst thing. The other hard part was that I went to college one semester, so I've never written anything except a thank you letter. Getting the dates right and stuff like that was hard. John Boylan helped me look stuff up, he was very helpful, and then eventually, I had a copy editor that checked dates. But my manuscript was pretty clean when I turned it in. They didn't change much really.

MR: By the way, another of your duets that I loved was with Paul Simon, "Under African Skies." Did he write the lyrics in order to accommodate you, that "Tucson, Arizona" part?

LR: No, he said he was having a hard time writing and he needed some ideas. He called me up one day when I was living at my dad's house in Tucson and said, "Can you give me an idea of some landmarks and what you see out there? What goes on in Tucson?" And I said, "There's this great Mission, the San Xavier Mission," which is my favorite place to go. It's meant to be the most beautiful mission in all of North America, it's gorgeous, it's just this tiny little jewel of a place, so that's what I told him about, and the fact that when we were kids my brother and sister and I always sang in harmony together. We always sang harmony very naturally, so that's what we were doing.

MR: Linda, what advice do you have for new artists?

LR: The music business is such a rearranged landscape that I can't recognize any of it. What I do know is you have to figure out a way to get on stage in front of people and you have to tell a real clear story. You can't expect somebody to give it to you to put it all together. Nobody, Beyoncé, none of those people have it made and manufactured for them completely. At some point, it's coming out of their own head. Nobody can manufacture it for you. You have to bring your own talent and your own ideas and make it as clear as you can make it. It's more important to make it clear than it is to make it sexy or make it loud or make it unique or any of those kinds of things; it's important to make it clear. What is your story? What are you saying in your own personal way? There are lots of ways that you can disguise it, you can cloak it in all kinds of things. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, "You can share, but you don't need to air your laundry." So there's all kinds of ways you can avoid airing your laundry, with metaphor and all kinds of stuff, but you ultimately have to tell a story that's rooted in your heart. If it resonates with the rest of the public, then you're going to be successful. If it doesn't, you'll be s**t out of luck.

MR: That's great advice, thanks Linda. What's in the future for you?

LR: Oh, I'll probably be going to see a lot of doctors, particularly neurologists. [laughs]

MR: How are you feeling about your health right now?

LR: Well, I don't have any choice but to deal with it. The word "progressive" has a new meaning for me now. [laughs] It used to apply to politics, but now it applies to something that happens to you, whether or not you can get out of bed in the morning. The idea of not being able to walk is daunting, but I just have to deal with the fact that I can walk today and be happy about that.

MR: Linda, I wish you all the best with your challenges.

LR: It's such a drag. Thank you. I am so afraid of pharmaceuticals that I haven't taken any yet, but I'll probably have to soon.

MR: Are you dealing with it homeopathically?

LR: I've been doing physical therapy. There's a method that was founded by one of my favorite ballet choreographers, Mark Morris, that's movement for people with Parkinson's. I'm going to start doing that. There are voice exercises that I'm supposed to do but I haven't so my voice is getting weak. It's getting harder and harder to talk for a long time.

MR: Linda, this was terrific, thanks so much. Oh two more cents form me is that I think your cover of "Alison" should've been a hit.

LR: Me too! I think it's really good. I don't like any of my stuff, but I remember at the time, I felt that really fell into a groove. I loved the story; it was a very particular story for me. There was somebody in my life that I was singing that about, and I could see her face right in front of me. David Sanborn's playing on that was just spectacular. I thought it was really good. That was a very good band that I had. It was Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel in that band, and they were really great.

Transcribed By Galen Hawthorne



Okay, it's no secret I'm a huge fan of Matt Hires' two albums and according to the young artist's camp...

"Matt Hires is releasing a brand new EP this week called Heartache Machine. The new EP follows up Hires's album, The World Won't Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend that was released in 2013, and it features four new songs that are the singer/songwriter's most honest material to date, exemplified on the title track from the new EP."

"This new EP is my first experiment as an independent musician," Hires explains. "I'm not pretending to have all of the answers, but with a lot of help from friends and lot of experience I've gained from being on a label for six years, I'm figuring things out. A great example is my new video for the song 'Heartache Machine.' The video is something that I put together with my brother and some friends at Team Club here in Florida. It's really the first one that I've made that's not mostly just me singing into the camera. This is more of a short film that's sort of about the things we do to try to cover up heartache and loneliness. The video is starring Stephan Price, and I'm actually only on the screen for about 5 seconds for a short cameo. It's something a little different, and I'm really happy with it."

Here's the quite cool video to Matt's latest, the EP's title track, "Heartache Machine," so take a gander if you will to this sweet HuffPost exclusive.