For what it’s worth, Matt Parris loves to play music.
Luckily, the 22-year-old Coastal Carolina student is getting a chance to do just that Tuesday nights at For What Its Worth, 7710 N. Kings Highway.
The singer-songwriter will perform his original tunes, a laid-back mix of pop, blues and rock, at the north side bar Jan. 18 and Feb. 1 with shows beginning at 9 p.m. each night. In addition, he will take his show to a more family-friendly venue this Friday evening with a stop at Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse, 933 A Broadway St., in downtown Myrtle Beach.
We sat down with Parris before his Jan. 4 show to get a look at what it’s like for a fledgling musician to try and get his name out around Myrtle Beach and keep playing throughout the tough winter months in this tourist town. Here’s what he had to say:
How did you end up here at the beach?
I was born in Dallas, Texas, but we moved around a couple times for my dad’s job. We lived in Pennsylvania, Charlotte and a little town called Mt. Airy. That’s really where I grew up.
We’d always vacationed here and my folks got to the point where they could work from home and so we came here my 9th grade year and I went to Socastee High.
I went to College of Charleston for a couple years and just came back this past semester to Coastal Carolina.
What was Charleston like for you compared to playing here?
I wasn’t playing as much music then. I was trying to focus on school, but I was always playing music it just wasn’t as serious for me down there. It wasn’t really until I came back here that I really started to get out there and play.
What are you studying at Coastal now?
I’m a Spanish major and I’m also studying journalism.
You know that journalism thing is a bad idea right...?
(Laughs) Well, it’s changing a lot, that’s for sure.
What does your music like and what influences your sound?
I would classify it probably as acoustic, because at this point it has to be. That’s kinda where I am. I’ve been in bands and but it came to where I really wanted to have complete creative control and so I play guitar and also piano.
Looking at it as a whole you might think “Wow, he’s had a rough couple years there,” but I try not to bring the music down too much, but it’s definitely on that tip.
My favorite band and the one that influences me the most as a songwriter is probably Counting Crows. Adam Duritz is on of the best songwriters I can think of.
Is it tougher for you as a young singer-songwriter to make your way alone than it would be if you were in a band?
I think the thing with playing in a band is that you are automatically almost given more credibility because you’ve organized a group of people that all show up, they’ve all got equipment, etc.
But as far as people like me, until I’ve got enough money to record it’s just me and my guitar playing places like here and surviving on word of mouth. It can be a crapshoot trying to find a place to play, but if you’re in a band you get a little more credit.
Especially around here, there are a lot of acoustic artists and singer-songwriters that are good that nobody really even knows about.
Have you been able to utilize any of the area’s open mics to help get that word of mouth going?
Yeah, actually I started years ago playing with Brian Roessler at his open mic when it used to be at The Living Room, and I’ve continued to play at Fresh Brewed Coffeehouse. I definitely always get a good response there and there’s a good crowd.
It’s just fun to play. You know, everybody wants to be famous, but if I can get out there and do it and see what happens, that’s good enough for me right now.
Has it been tough to find places to play here?
It’s tough here in the winter season. Nobody’s around and a lot of places just aren’t booking right now. But there’s always some places where you can go in and say ‘Hey, I can play?’ At a certain point you can’t care about getting paid, it’s just about playing to get respect and eventually have a regular gig there. It’s all about investing the time to just get your name out there.
A lot of people have a talent but its a question of whether you have a mind to make it work for you is another thing. If you’re just going to go around and say ‘I’m good enough to get paid wherever I go’ then more power to you, but really nobody knows what you’re capable of until you get up and do it.
And, if you don’t love playing just for the sake of playing, you’re in the wrong business.
Are you fully committed to writing and making your own music or do you think you could benefit from playing covers and just getting gigs?
At least in the past year I’ve noticed more and more people telling me that this is something you’re actually really good at and so it’s really inspired me to take a second while I have it and actually pursue it full on, give it my all and see what happens.
What are your plans as far as getting an album recorded?
I’ve saved enough to start recording, looked at a couple different places and I think I’d like to get in over at Sea Note [Recordings] and record. It doesn’t have to be a full LP or anything, just five or six songs ideally or whatever it takes to be able to take you places and get noticed.
I have lots of songs. I’ve gone through periods where I write a lot and then there’s been some lulls, but I’d say I probably have about 25 that I could record and from those maybe 15 that are very good.
Where do you see yourself going with your music in the near future?
Ideally, I would have something recorded in some capacity and just touring around South Carolina or maybe around S.C. and Georgia, wherever I can get booked.
One of the interesting things now is the Internet. You’ve got YouTube, you’ve got Reverbnation, you’ve got all these other mediums for people to hear music. It’s almost like you can run a dual campaign, you can be rolling around playing and having people access your music online as well.
One of the first things I did was when I lived in Charleston since I wasn’t playing a lot of places I’d put a lot of stuff on YouTube, so I have lots of videos. I figure if it’s there, use it.
What can folks expect from your show?
It’s always a good time. It’s always a different show. There’s never anything boring about it . I try to get everybody involved and see that they have a good time with it.
What do you think can be done to make Myrtle Beach a better music scene?
I think that people need to realize what they have around them. I know I have some friends that are from here that play great music, I have friends that are here that’s awesome. There’s stuff around here, but if you don’t go out and see it, it might go away.
I just think that things can only grow from here and that if people paid a little more attention and a little more respect to it Myrtle Beach could be another hotbed.