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Published: 2008/03/22
by Brian Bavosa

Perpetual Grooves Resounding Echoes

In the span of a single month or so, Perpetual Groove will have played Jam Cruise, embarked on their first West Coast run in over 2 years, rocked a late night show at Langerado, made their debut trip to Amsterdam, and released their first live album. The group’s keyboard player Matt McDonald took a quick breather from overseas in Amsterdam to talk politics, tease Amberland and outline where he sees his band headed with the release of their first live album, Echoes From the Cave .

BB: Let start out by talking about Amsterdam. You will be playing with the Biscuits and Umphrey’s — two bands that you seem to have developed friendly relationships with over the years. Who are you most likely looking forward to sitting down and "drinking some coffee" with while over there?

MM: It's really an incredible lineup and to be included this year is a true honor. The thing is, you have the Biscuits and Umphrey’s, yes. But you also have Lotus and Tea Leaf. You are talking about five bands that for the past five years have had several opportunities to not only hang out but also listen to each other and even get to jam together sometimes. The chemistry this weekend is going to be one huge party. We have three more days until we play and I just finished up my second day here in Amsterdam. Already memories to last a lifetime and we haven't even started playing yet! It's going to be an amazing weekend because it's going to be a weekend of old friends getting together and having a party.

BB: Your double-live disc, Echoes From the Cave, is about to drop later this month. Can you explain a little bit about where the live album came from?

MM: Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, GA has several recording rooms in it. One of the rooms is called the Cave where a lot of live recording and rehearsals happen. The room can hold about 150 people and there is rock climbing on some of the walls and stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. The room is cabled properly for live recording and you have all the technology in a studio with the element of a live concert being able to happen. So we sold 150 tickets to our fans online through the message board and spent two night of St. Patrick's Day weekend in 2006 and made this album. We have been sitting on it for a long time and it's going to be great to release it now. There are plans to do another cave weekend this summer with all new tunes and a quick turnaround on it. It will probably be a fall release. That way in the same year we get release a live album that shows what we were doing two years ago and just a few months later we can release an album that shows where we are now with performance and song writing.

BB: You have recently incorporated a Mac into your setup on stage. How much do you rely on it while playing? What has it added to your sound—both individually and as a band?

MM: I don't rely on it too much. But as time goes on I'm sure I will more and more. I'm using a bunch of different software synthesizers and using programs like logic to run some loops and samples. For the most part I just am writing and pulling new sounds.

BB: You guys recently had your tires slashed in Alabama. Besides the obvious anger (which Brock Butler led the charge with, and rightfully so), do you take some sort of satisfaction from that in the sense that people are starting to realize who you are, and actually care what PG is doing? Or does it just suck to be one tire short after a smoking gig?

MM: Ha! I guess that's one way of showing you know who we are. Not the most flattering gesture though! Vandalism and theft suck no matter how you slice it.

BB: I know you are extremely political. You guys are on your "Save 4 1" Tour, in which you have an American Flag/Bar Code backdrop. Could you talk a little about that?

MM: You know we were not going to talk about it, but I think enough time has passed in which we can share our take on it. We have our song "Save for One" which uses the phrase in the context in which it is usually used. We just took an idea and play on words, and have put a piece of artwork out there that hopefully promotes some thought. You hear so much in America of this idea "for one." United we stand, divided we fall. One nation under god, indivisibleAn idea of all for one, one for all that is at the root of our very beginnings as a country. It is an idea that defines us. No matter your background of race or religion we are all supposed to be united as Americans and accept and learn more about our differences. It's supposed to be about the diversity in America that makes it such a wonderful place.

So we took the idea with "Save 41" as save this idea of America; the idea that being diverse is being American. We have had nothing but division for so long now. The media and the television divide us in every way they can to distract us from the bigger more important picture. They have created Red states and Blue states. They make people care about something as unimportant as gay marriage and make outlandish divisive statements about immigration in America. In the meantime, big corporations have taken over our government and we have an administration that is trying to turn the United States into a Police State bypassing all sorts of paperwork that strips us of our rights and privacy. The barcode flag on our posters and backdrop shows how America has been put up for sale. Today in Amsterdam I had a cabbie tell a close friend of mine how the rest of the world owns America now because we have been sold. It's true.

The "SAV3 41 08" tour is about saving the very core ideas that make the idea of this country so great.

BB: Does it feel that the timing of your views, and the views of our country are coming together at the right time? Is that why you decided to become involved with HeadCount? And speaking of HeadCount, how has the reaction been so far? What do you look forward to accomplishing with them?

MM: It does. It was an obvious decision for us to do it during an election year. Change is in the air. People are sick of being misrepresented to the rest of the world. Art speaks for the times. There is dissent and revolution in the air. You can hear it in the music coming out of a lot of bands right now. Headcount is to me the perfect tool to get people involved without pushing a view or look as if you have an agenda. I don't bring my personal political views into our work with HeadCount. It's a great privilege to vote and an even greater privilege to have the freedom to debate your ideas. No matter how much people may disagree they must debate to have a healthy society and to let the public vote and decide for themselves. What I hope we can accomplish with Headcount is to keep people involved, aware, and voting their minds.

BB: Every Memorial Day, you guys throw your annual festival, Amberland. I must say, it’s one of the best weekend’s I’ve ever had. What’s the story behind that? Why do you feel it’s so special? Do you have plans to step things up even further this year?

MM: Amberland started as a party in a friend’s backyard and has turned into a festival that we throw every year that is music with just PGroove and their friends. Brock and Adam do a side project called The Ruins that usually does a show on the pre-party night on Friday. Other than that you get a weekend of all PGroove with the Sunday morning Brockfest (Brock solo). It's a real treat for us being such a young band to have our own festival. We do three sets a day for two days and there are usually some late night jam sessions that breakout. It's an intimate weekend with our close friends and fans and it's like our own musical playground. We can play whatever we want however we want and we end up taking a lot of risks because you are in such a comfortable place. We are going bigger and better than ever this year. Lots of big plans, I really don't want to ruin any surprises.

BB: What are some of your plans for the rest of ’08? Do you feel PG has started to take the step to the next level, or feel like you’re there already? Of not, what do you have to do to get there?

MM: I think we are ready for it musically-related. We are just now at the point where our name has been out there for a while and people are really starting to get used to us, our sound and, the fact that we are here to stay. I believe this has definitely been the beginning of the next level and I can't wait.

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