Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday February 19th 2019

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Happy If You’re Happy

By Savannah Evanoff

Valentine’s Day isn’t a highlight reel for Matt and Kim.

The indie-pop duo and real-life embodiment of #couplegoals are excited to be performing at Vinyl Music Hall on the holiday of hearts this year, but it used to be a no-go.

“We have bad luck on Valentine’s Day,” Matt Johnson told Inweekly. “Early on, as a couple that was a band, we’d get asked to play Valentine’s Day shows. For some reason or another, they would go awful. It was just probably a coincidence, but at one point, we were like, ‘No more Valentine’s Day shows.’”

In the last handful of years, V-day performances have returned to the tour. But Johnson still proceeds with caution, he said with a laugh.

When Matt and Kim first started, they didn’t talk much about their relationship.

“I don’t think we ever denied it existed, but we didn’t want it to be the main thing we were about,” Johnson said. “Then it wasn’t until an album called “New Glow” that we actually had a song or two that talked about our relationship and all the positive aspects of that.”

The songs felt honest, Johnson said.

On the band’s latest album, “Almost Everyday,” he revisited their romance in the song “Happy If You’re Happy.”

“I just wrote that song about Kim,” Johnson said. “It’s the one that most people connected to on that album… Kim’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I regret not writing about it sooner.”

Matt and Kim spend every day together, because they work together, Johnson said. But that’s just it, they work together.

“The thing is, we don’t get sick of each other,” Johnson said. “We should’ve murdered each other many years ago—on paper anyway.”

While the two are in positive spirits, “Almost Everyday” came after a rough year.

Kim had a knee injury that prevented them from touring, among other negative things that happened in the world.

The album title reflects the darker material.

“We were leaving it kind of open, but to say directly, it was just about hearing more bad news almost every day,” Johnson said. “My entire adult life, we’ve been touring with this band. It was the first year we didn’t do it. It felt like what it would probably feel like when we retire from this, and I didn’t like that at all.”

“I think there was a lot of talk about life speeding up,” he said.

Johnson didn’t realize how often the topic of death made its way onto the album until after they wrote it. The music is a bit heavier, he said.

“A lot of times, we’ve had a little bit of a darker undertone under what seemed like very upbeat songs,” Johnson said. “I think that’s sometimes what makes them feel a little more honest. Our songs are still upbeat songs. They’re still fun to dance to. They’re still fun to perform. Actually, I can sing a little more passionately in some of them because the topic is in my heart more.”

The band has a reputation for getting wild at its concerts, and they are totally cool with that.

“Our show is enough balloons and confetti to make a mess,” Johnson said. “And Kim jumping up and down on her drum set, shaking her booty.”

This tour is next level, though. They recently had 1,000 blow-up sex dolls printed with their faces on them.

“This was Kim’s decision,” Johnson said. “Never in my life did I think I would spend $15,000 on blow-up sex dolls, especially with my face on them. We have a storage space that is just floor to ceiling Matt and Kim dolls.”

The duo typically only takes a couple of songs from their latest album on tour, plucking the remainder of the set list from their catalog.

“When you see a band on stage, ‘Who wants to hear a new song?’” Johnson said. “Everyone sort of subtly cheers yes, but they just want to hear songs they know.”

Among these tracks people know will be songs from their 2008 breakout album “Grand.” They reissued the record on orange vinyl for its 10th anniversary in January.

The record changed their lives. Because of it, they have a platinum record on the wall and a VMA statue, Johnson said.

“It was this pivotal point that was five years into our band’s career,” Johnson said. “We had already been around for a while before we put that out. We thought the pace we were at is what we’d always be at, and I was totally fine with that.”

Their career was already beyond his expectations, he said.

“Then we made this one album in a bedroom, where I recorded it myself, having no idea how to record an album,” Johnson said. “And people seemed to connect to it on such a level… that one was certainly special.”

Johnson can’t wait to bring their new music to Pensacola —the place where, “dude,” he had his most “Beyoncé moment.”

In October of 2011, Matt and Kim had a show in New York City the night before they were supposed to play DeLuna Fest in Pensacola Beach. The two didn’t think they could do both shows, but DeLuna Fest kept asking.

Jokingly, they agreed to perform—but only if they got a private jet.

“That was my one and only time,” Johnson said. “We landed in Pensacola. Walked off the plane, walked into the little terminal area. Right there was an Inweekly cover that had our picture on the front. Someone picked it up and said, ‘Is this you?’ I’m like, ‘Yup.’”

“That’s Beyoncé’s life every single day, but I got it once in my lifetime.”

MATT AND KIM
WHAT: Matt and Kim with Yuno
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $25
DETAILS: vinylmusichall.com; mattandkimmusic.com