Music Interview: Matt Owens

Co-founder of Noah and the Whale on his solo career

Music Interview: Matt Owens

On that note, ‘MacCurtain Street’ is an anthemic folk-rock song, which deals with homelessness in Cork, Ireland…

It’s all true – after Noah and the Whale broke up, I used to go to Cork every month to play music with my band Little Mammoths. I tried to write a song about a guy I met who told me his story – he was a lecturer, then he lost his son and his wife left him… You never know what’s around the corner and you think it will never happen to you. 

I also read an article about a guy who was a top chef for rock stars like Elton John, but ended up homeless on the streets of Cork and was kicked to death. I wrestled with the song and wondered if I should go ahead with it because of its punchy subject matter – who am I to write about homelessness having never been homeless? – but I felt I had a way in with it. I wanted to be able to play it with an acoustic guitar and a snare drum, like you would in an Irish pub.

Finally, I’d like to ask you about a Christmas song called ‘One F*** Of A Year’, which was on your first album. It feels very apt for 2020. You could have rereleased it as a festive single…

Unbelievably, I wrote it before Brexit, as a bit of a joke – it almost didn’t make it onto the record. Weirdly, it’s probably the song I get the most comments about – but not in the way that you’d expect. People who’ve had a difficult year and have lost people or had personal tragedies find it really cathartic and helpful. It gives them solace. 

Scorched Earth by Matt Owens is available now on CD and digital. It’s distributed exclu­sively via Bandcamp ( and selected stores. 

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