When Englewood native Matt White was five years old, he met Bruce Springsteen in a diner. “When you’re from Jersey, that’s everything to you,” says White, now 28. “Every song of his makes me feel like a kid.”
Springsteen indirectly led to White’s big break, too. As a recent college grad, White was living in a 250-square-foot apartment in Greenwich Village. An accomplished pianist without room for a keyboard, he bought a guitar, taught himself to play, and then started writing his own songs.
In 2003, while playing at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan, someone recorded his acoustic show and sent the MP3 to Jimmy Iovine, who engineered Springsteen’s Born to Run. A day later, White was invited by the major record producer to come to Los Angeles to play. “I nearly peed my pants,” White says.
Good thing he didn’t. Iovine signed him right after the audition. His debut album, Best Days, came out in September, earning kudos in Rolling Stone, Details, and Elle magazines. He’s appeared on CBS’s Early Show and the Carson Daly Show. Songs from Best Days and his EP, Bleecker Street Stories, set the mood for moments on One Tree Hill, Laguna Beach, The Hills, and Men in Trees.
White comes by his talent naturally; his great-grandfather founded and ran the Hertz School of Music, where his grandmother taught. His aunt is an opera singer, his dad a violinist; one sister teaches violin, and another is a cellist. “And my mom plays everything,” he says.
White was never destined for a career in classical music, even if he was one of the youngest people accepted to the Manhattan School of Music. “I never read music well. It’s like trying to read and understand every language in the world,” he says. It wasn’t what he listened to, either. He grew up on Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Tom Petty and, of course, the Boss.
You can hear those rock influences on Best Days. The music is upbeat and optimistic, classic rock beats with a splash of modern pop. The themes of White’s songs touch on rock standards, like women, love, and, well, more women. The first single, also called “Best Days,” started popping up on radio stations across the country, including 94.5 WPST in New Jersey, even before the album came out, giving White a hopeful vibe about his place in a big pond. “The tour is going phenomenally,” he said while driving from a show in Madison, Wisconsin. “We’re hitting markets we never hit before, and people are coming out and singing the lyrics.”
Could be that the best days are yet to come.Click here to leave a comment