Originally from Burnaby, BC, Matthew Good first had aspirations of being a folk singer, and in 1992 was fronting the Rockester Kings after moving to Vancouver from Coquitlam. While he and guitarist Simon Woodcock attended an open mic night one night at Simon Fraser Univesity, they were seen by manager Brent Crhistensen, who got them to record some demos early the next year.
It was those acoustic versions of the title track, “Mercy Misses You,” and “Heather’s Like Sunday” that helped him win a talent competition sponsored by 99.3 The Fox. The prize consisted of studio time, where he and his new band recorded some tracks that helped land a publishing deal with EMI. But after a 1995 spring tour across Canada, the band split up and Good was left starting over from scratch.
Assembling a new band that consisted of bassist Geoff Lloyd, drummer Ian Browne, and Dave Genn on organ, they signed with Private Music in Los Angeles, known primarily for new age music. But while working on their debut album, BMG Music informed them they’d bought out the label, and were terminating the deal. Good and company soldiered on, and released their debut album, LAST OF THE GHETTO ASTRONAUTS later that year with producer John Shepp. Although A&M eventually picked it up, it was initially an independent release on his own Darktown Records.
With no electric guitars, the sound was different from what was hot at the time, and at first it didn’t catch on outside of the greater Vancouver area. But once it broke, it broke big, and they were quickly becoming Canada’s hottest new alternative rock groups. And although the album was done on a shoestring budget of $5,000, three singles – “Alabama Motel Room,” “Symbolistic White Walls,” and “Haven’t Slept In Years,” eventually put The Matthew Good Band on the charts, with the accompanying videos also getting heavy rotation on MuchMusic.
The five-track EP RAYGUN was released in ’96 and included alternate, fully electric versions of “Haven’t Slept In Years” and “Alabama Motel Room.” This in turn was followed up a year later with UNDERDOGS with producer Wayne Livesey. “Apparitions” was a smash hit that broke the band nationwide, and is still their biggest selling single to date. The other singles, “Everything Is Automatic” and “Indestructible” pushed the album platinum (100,000 units in Canada), and earned the band a best rock album Juno Award. By the spring of ’98, a fourth single, “Rico,” climbed the charts to the top 50.
In the midst of touring across the continent and two trips across the ocean, LO-FI B-SIDES was released to keep the buying public happy. The three-song EP included the previously unreleased “Enjoy The Silence,” “Born To Kill,” and “Fated.”
By the time BEAUTIFUL MIDNIGHT was in the stores in the fall of 1999, the band had signed with Universal Records, Lloyd was gone and Rich Priske came on board as the new bassist. Three top 20 hits – “Hello Time” Bomb,” “Strange Days,” and “Load Me Up,” and “The Future Is X-Rated” that broke the top 40, helped earn a pair of Junos the next year, for best group and best rock album. Good however refused to personally accept the awards, claiming the process was little more than an avenue to promote American distribution of Canadian music, and not the talent itself.
The album debuted on top of the Canadian chart and sold 25,000 copies in its first week, eventually reaching double platinum status. In 2001 it became his first US release, through Atlantic. Their American label though altered the tracklisting, remixing several of the songs, and taking three tracks from UNDERDOGS and substituting them in. Good blamed Atlantic’s tampering for the album not reaching the success it did in Canada. The label meanwhile blamed Good for the poor sales, claiming his reluctance to tour endlessly as the reason. Despite that accusation, the band was actually on the road for nearly two full years, playing across North America and in Europe.
2001 also saw the release of Good’s first book, “At Last There Is Nothing Left To Say,” a collection of thoughts scribbled down on the band’s website and then later compiled.
The last album under a ‘band’ banner was THE AUDIO OF BEING later that year, with the US release following the next spring. Their fourth straight gold or better album, it was critically acclaimed not only for the success of “Carmelina” and “Anti-Pop,” but also for the personal turmoils the band, and Good in particular, were going through. Good was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a diseases that causes lesions to form in the lungs, which resulted in throat surgery. On top of all that, musical differences were pulling the band apart, although much of the album was still a collaborative effort, in keeping with its predecessors. Genn had even quit in the middle of a recording session, but returned a few days later. But the band ultimately reached its breaking point shortly after the album’s release, although Priske stayed on for a few more years. Because of the personnel situation, touring was limited, with Good assembling makeshift back-up bands as needed.
While he contemplated his solo career, another EP, LOSER ANTHEMS, was released before the end of the year. Containing out-takes from UNDERDOGS and BEAUTIFUL MIDNIGHT, it featured “Flashdance II,” “My Life As A Circus Clown,” “Flight Recorder From Viking 7,” and “The Find Art of Falling Apart.”
2003’s AVALANCHE hooked Good up once again with producer Wayne Livesey. Critically acclaimed, it showed a definite shift from the often acoustic stylings of his music, andeven featured the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on several tracks, including the first two singles, “Weapon” and “In A World Called Catastrophe.” The album debuted at #2 on the Canadian chart and eventually went gold (50,000 copies). “Weapon” received a Juno for best video, and other noteable cuts included “House of Smoke and Mirrors,” the title track, “21st Century Living,” and the third single, “Near Fantastica.”
He reverted back to his politcally-charged messages for WHITE LIGHT – ROCK AND ROLL REVIEW in ’04, while also trying to expand the live off the floor studio technique he longed for to help capture his live performances. “Alert Status Red” dealt with the Columbine High School shootings, and he took heat for the fact the video contained surveillance footage, unbeknownst to him. “It’s Been Awhile Since I Was Your Man” followed it up the singles chart, and was one of several tracks, including “Little Terror” and “North American For Life,” that he’d actually performed live for a couple of years prior to recording them. “In Love With a Bad Idea” stemmed from a poem Good had written years earlier entitled, “Paris Hilton’s Vagina.” He hit the road, criss-crossing Canada while making stops in the US over the next several months. Always a strong supporter of Amnesty International, he also brought representatives from the group along with him, and even offered a signed soccer jersey for auction on his website, with proceeds going to Amnesty.
While Good recharged his batteries, IN A COMA – 1995 – 2005 was released. The initial version consisted of his biggest hits over the decade, along with three previously unreleased tracks, of which “Big City Life” and “Oh Be Joyful” were released as singles. For them, he turned to Limblifter’s Ryan Dahle and Meegee Bradfield for help in the studio. The deluxe edition was the definitive collection, which also consisted of an acoustic reworking of several tracks (including “Truffle Pigs,” “Hello Time Bomb,” and “Apparitions”), the out of print LOSER ANTHEMS and LO-FI B-SIDES EPs in their entirety, and a three-part DVD. This consisted of 22 music videos (including the new video for “While We Were Hurting Rabbits” from AVALANCHE, put together by students at Sheridan College) and special features.
In the spring of ’06, Good set out on a solo acoustic tour across Canada with Melissa McClelland. The tour took them to smaller settings, and therefore a more intimate interaction with the audiences.
He returned a year later with HOSPITAL MUSIC, the first time he produced his album himself. It was hailed by the critics for its intimacy, following Good going having gone through a divorce, losing his father to cancer, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and developing an addiction to Avitan. A good portion of the album was written after voluntarily checking himself into a pyschiatric ward, following an overdose on the drug, which he was initially prescribed to help him battle with anxiety attacks. In fact, the last two stops on his previous tour had to be cancelled, when he was rushed to a hospital in Kingston, Ontario, following an adverse reaction to the drug. Good later admitted he was also in the middle of a nervous breakdown.
The highly anticipated album debuted at #1, the first time he’d achieved that since BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. The first single, “Born Losers” made it to #27 on the Canadian chart, but as per usual, the American audiences didn’t quite get him, and it failed to make a dent Stateside. It also contained his first two covers – a re-worked version of The Dead Kennedys’ “Moon Over Marin” and Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End.”
He chose to keep the live appearances to a minimum, and did only a solo acoustic tour in the US that only lasted a month, then embarked on a full-band tour of Canada that kept them on the road for the better part of the remainder of the year. One of those shows that May was recorded in Toronto, and appeared in the fall of ’08 as LIVE AT MASSEY HALL.
The first single “Last Parade” was on the airwaves prior to the new album, when VANCOUVER was released in the fall of 2009. Debuting at #2 in Canada, it sold over 11,000 copies in its first week. “Us Remains Impossible” followed up the charts, but in both cases, a grittier sound wasn’t hitting home, and both singles barely made the top 10.
Some critics referred to the music as too inter reflectionary, often making references to the impoverished parts of Vancouver, and therefore taking on a sometimes too touchy social stance. Still, he took home the 2011 Juno Award, for rock album of the year, and the album was certified gold. Other noteable cuts included “The Boy That Could Explode” (a further exploration into his own mental illness), “Empty’s Theme Park,” and “Vancouver National Anthem.”
In 2011, his collaboration with producer Wayne Livesey resumed, with LIGHTS OF ENDANGERED SPECIES. While social and political issues remained at the forefront of the lyrics, the music itself was a departure from anything he’d done before, complete with horns (most evidenced in “Zero Orchestra”), woodwinds, piano, and even a full strings ensemble. “In A Place of Lesser Men” was the only single, and critics, label reps, and most importantly the fans, all agreed it was a commercial disaster.
In 2013, the greatest hits compilation OLD FIGHTERS was released, which featured some of his biggest hits over the years, including “Strange Days,” “Weapon,” and “Last Parade,” as well as live versions of “Apparitions” and “Load Me Up.”