**Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Matthew Mayfield's interview in our new issue. The full feature can be found here.
Matthew Mayfield is a fighter. After his band Moses Mayfield disbanded in 2008, the Birmingham-based singer-songwriter set out to build a solid fanbase that—without the support of PR representation or radio play—carried him to crack the Billboard Top 200 with last year’s Banquet for Ghosts. Now the fighter is back, armed with a brand new EP, a covers EP and a live EP, and he is once again enlisting his supporters to assist him in conquering his next goal: radio. We had the chance to speak with Mayfield recently about these new releases and the road ahead.
Variance: Why the choice of doing a new EP rather than a full-length?
Mayfield: It's somewhere in the middle. Eight tracks. Four brand new songs, two remasters, an acoustic tune and a remix of “Fire Escape” from Catherine Marks (The Killers, PJ Harvey) featuring John Paul White of The Civil Wars. I'm keeping the price low for fans that may already have some of the tunes.
V: How did the material for Irons In the Fire (the new EP) come together?
M: It’s a bit scattered. I wrote “Miles & Miles,” “Look Me In The Eye,” and “Follow You Down” on the road with NEEDTOBREATHE last fall. Creatively, I'm either on fire or I'm burned out. Being around talented folks like NEED and Good Old War inspires you in a subliminal way. You don't know it's happening, but all those sound checks and shows paired with nine different musical minds and the right amount of spare time makes for a perfect storm. I've been on fire ever since.
V: Would you say that this album is a departure from your previous record?
M: Irons has a little bit of everything on it. The opening track, “In Or Out,” is the heaviest thing I've put out in a while. Felt good to turn up and dig in. Songs like “Miles & Miles” and “Look Me In The Eye” are new territory for me when it comes to the guitar sounds. I wanted to keep the acoustics in the back and let those jangly electrics be the foundation. I kept referencing Springsteen's “The River” in the studio because there's a magic to those guitar tones that I wanted to try and find. So rich and warm, but never overkill.
V: What song were you most pleased with on Irons In the Fire?
M: Today, it's “Miles & Miles.” I struggled to find that song, chasing it relentlessly for months. I had a great verse, but couldn't find the chorus. It was like a fight with your girlfriend; sometimes it's best to step away and come back when the dust has settled. One night I came home from the bar and sat on the floor in the dark. I went through the verse once and the chorus just arrived out of nowhere. Those moments are gifts. I didn't sleep a wink that night. Nothing gets me more riled up than a great melody.
V: How did the live EP come together?
M: This was a lot of fun. On the last tour, I had a lot of recording capability because I was with a band that had their own console. My friend Mikey Reaves (NEEDTOBREATHE's monitor tech) was running sound for me every night, so we found a good mic and just went for it. It's five songs in five cities with just me and my guitar. Mikey did an incredible job on the mix by incorporating the dynamics to keep the live feel. It's an exclusive at Pledge Music.
V: You recently tweeted that you turned down The Voice. What motivated you to make that decision?
M: A lot of folks thought it was a jab to others who have gone that route. It wasn't; it's just not me. Can you see me up there with a big smile on my face during Tina Turner night on Team Adam? Me neither. I know myself well enough to avoid anything that has a shot-out-of-a-cannon vibe. My personality could never handle that kind of swing. If I arrive at a steady pace, then great. But you don't wanna be on the cover of People Magazine when all you've done is sing karaoke on TV and gotten a record deal that won't last. I don't want fame without true fans. One minute you're flying high, the next you're doing commercials for the local car dealership. I'd rather jump off a building.
Read the full interview.