You can blame the long wait (six years) between Matthew Sweet albums on the expectations generated by a Kickstarter campaign.
"That's why it took so long; I was trying to do multiple batches of real recording and be able to pull from it something ostensibly stronger than if I didn't have as much to pull from," Sweet tells Billboard about Tomorrow Forever, the follow-up to 2011's Modern Art. The album comes out June 16, with 17 tracks culled from an estimated 38 Sweet worked on for the set; another dozen will be part of the bonus demo album Tomorrow's Daughter that will be provided to Kickstarter donors.
"I was really just looking to do a whole lot of songs and pick favorites," says Sweet, who, as the body of work grew tapped others for feedback about which songs to include on the album. "I gave the music to a lot of people around me, more than I usually do. It made putting it together in the end slightly easier 'cause all of us, including me, pretty much agreed on all the top stuff. It's interesting in general how everybody picks the same things."
From the crunchy opening riff of "Trick," Tomorrow Forever is another of Sweet's power pop-leaning gems, with plenty of garage and psychedelic flavors in the mix. The music is fleshed out by an impressive roster of guests, including Rod Argent of the Zombies, who plays piano on two tracks, the Bangles' Debbie Peterson, who drums on four, Jayhawks' frontman Gary Louris and members of the Velvet Crush, the Orange Peels and Jackson Browne's band. The album was also impacted by its environment; Three years ago Sweet and his wife left the Hollywood Hills and returned to their native Nebraska, where they now reside in an 80-year-old house outside Omaha where Sweet operates his Black Squirrel Submarine studio and his new Honeycomb Hideout label.
"I'm back to where I was when I was young," Sweet acknowledges. "I've been out in the world and living away from here for so long. Being back I'm sort of reconnecting with who I was when I was young and what my feelings were about life and everything. There's a certain sort of solidness to that that I think underpins the record. It's pretty solid. It doesn't feel esoteric to me at all. And I'm in a new studio, a little different of a scene. That creates a lot of ambition to work hard on it, too."
Tomorrow Forever also includes a salute to Sweet's mother, who passed away shortly after he returned to Nebraska, in the track "You Knew Me." "I think we both were pretty similar kinds of people," Sweet says, "but because of that we sort of were at odds a lot... We were great with each other by the time she passed away. But that song in particular makes me think about this level of discomfort she had with the course of my life. It came from this idea where I'm saying 'I'm afraid of myself and afraid of you/ And you're afraid of yourself and afraid of me.' It's slightly sad, could make me cry kind of feeling."
Sweet plans to spend some time shepherding the album's release as well as getting all the Kickstarter perks lined up, including special bronze cast sculptures and Skype chats. He hits the road starting at home, July 8-9, in Omaha before heading through the Midwest, East Coast and South, with more dates likely added before long.
"I've been learning some of the new songs for some acoustic shows I'm going to do out in New York when the album is released," Sweet says. "They all seem good and strong as acoustic songs, which means they'll be good electric. When they work after you've stripped them all the way down, you know they'll be good when the rest of the band plays them."
Sweet's upcoming tour dates include:
5/15 -- New York, NY @ City Vineyard
5/16 -- New York, NY @ City Vineyard
7/8 -- Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
7/9 -- Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
7/11 -- Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
7/12 --Des Moines, IA @ Wooly's
7/13 -- Chicago, IL @ City Winery
7/14 -- Chicago, IL @ City Winery
7/15 -- Springfield, IL @ Bedrock 66 Music Fest
7/16 -- St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill
7/18 -- Kansas City, MO @ Knuckleheads
7/20 -- Dallas, TX @ Kessler Theater
7/21-- Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Live
7/22 -- Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Live
7/23 -- Houston, TX @ Heights Theatre
7/25 -- Jackson, MS @ Duling Hall
7/26 -- Atlanta, GA @ City Winery
7/27 -- Atlanta, GA @ City Winery
7/28 -- Nashville, TN @ City Winery
7/29 -- Louisville, KY @ Headliners
9/7 -- Alexandria, VA @ Birchmere
9/8 -- Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head
9/13 -- Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music Hall
9/14 -- Derry, NH @ Tupelo Music Hall
9/15 -- Brownfield, ME @ Stone Mountain
9/16 -- Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
9/17 -- Norfolk, CT @ Infinity Hall
9/19 -- Fall River, MA @ Narrows Center for the Arts
9/20 -- Hudson, NY @ Club Helsinki
9/21 -- Wilmington, DE @ World Cafe Live
9/22 -- Tarrytown, NY @ Tarrytown Music Hall
9/23 -- Port Washington, NY @ Landmark on Main Street
9/24 - South Orange, NJ @ SOPAC