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M. Ward talks return to solo life post-She & Him, Monsters of Folk
Singer-songwriter reveals future plans with Zooey Deschanel, Carlos Forster, the lonely stage
“2010 is the year of me,” M. Ward says, calling from his homebase in Portland, Ore. “Oh, man, it’s 2011, isn’t it? I mean 2011. This is my year.”
It’s understandable why the little matter of what year it is could disorient the singer-songwriter. Ward’s last couple have included a whirlwind of releases, tours and one-offs, including two albums with Zooey Deschanel in pop-rock project She & Him, one with Monsters of Folk, soundtrack work on forthcoming film “Winnie the Pooh” and helming production for For Stars’ Carlos Forster’s solo set. The 37-year-old’s last solo set, 2009’s “Hold Time,” was a much larger-scale, band-oriented affair with guests like Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, Deschanel, DeVotchKa’s Tom Hagerman and Lucinda Williams.
So, Matt Ward is due for a little “me” time.
Which explains, in part, why he’s plotted a series of solo shows, featuring only him and his guitar on his own songs, starting in May. First, he’ll be christening the newly redesigned Crystal Hotel in Portland with a trio of back-to-back dates, then a European stretch of dates, then opening for Monsters of Folk cohort Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes, then crowning things off at the Newport Folk Festival.
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“I’m going back to what it was when I first started, performing, writing and recording by myself. Since then, I’ve been getting some great invitations to play with other people, following this path,” Ward says. “It’s a luxury to not have to just be performing with other people to have my music heard.”
Ward says he’s “always writing music” and while there’s not necessarily a new album in the can, he insinuates that his next big undertaking is shining up solo material, new and old, for The Year of Me.
“I have a giant backlog of songs that… I really haven’t had time to revisit or improve upon. It’s time to finish writing those songs,” he says. He adds that he’ll “definitely” be recording at home in Portland in his “healthy shift” back to solo life, with his shows a creative kicking off point, a “fuel for fire,” as it were. “I need to get around to getting inspired.”
Of both She & Him and Monsters of Folk, Ward says he’d “love to” write more with those groups, but nothing’s on the books. Forster’s debut solo set, post-For Stars, is due sometime this summer, six years since he and Ward began the endeavor. As Ward says, “You have to let some projects hibernate.”
Click here for M. Ward’s tour dates.