Mat Kearney is a sixth generation Oregonian who is now based in Nashville. An English major and soccer player at Chico State (“I barely made it out…I think I’m still a junior there”), he happened to land a roommate with a guitar. Coincidentally, that friend was moving to Nashville to become a producer and asked if Mat would drive across the country and help him move in.
A few years later, Kearney was signed with Colombia Records. That story inspired his 1999 hit “Nothing Left to Lose,” and it was a last-minute recording that made it on the album, became the title track, and launched a career.
But his overnight success was years in the making as Kearney collected the imagery and stories he weaves into each record. In high school, Kearney was a self-proclaimed skater kid and graffiti head who signed his tags with the name “Fester” (“I never painted on someone’s shop…that always bugged me”) and hung around the train yards. He cultivated an awareness, growing up in Eugene, Oregon (“old-school hippies, off-the-grid”), an affinity for music that is visceral, like that of Bob Marley, versus cerebral, like James Taylor or Paul Simon.
These days, he’s touring and putting out music at the same time. He collaborates in Nashville often, most recently writing “Kings and Queens” with Judah from Judah and the Lion. His upcoming album Crazytalk has evolved through early stages of an EP and will be released in May.
Listen above as No Name talks with Mat Kearney about his early influences, Bay Area ties, upcoming projects, and plays an exclusive “Nothing Left to Lose” and “Kings and Queens.”