Matthew Mayfield's journey through the music industry and life has been nothing short of a battle, reflected poignantly in his sixth album, PRIZEFIGHTER. Hailing from Birmingham, AL, the songwriter has faced numerous challenges, yet continues to persevere with unwavering resilience. Mayfield's career began in earnest after his band, Moses Mayfield, was dropped from a major label, a setback that fueled his solo endeavors. His latest album, PRIZEFIGHTER, is a testament to his enduring spirit, capturing the raw intensity of his struggles and triumphs. Written during bouts of insomnia and personal turmoil, the album features powerful tracks like “Fumes” and “Rock N’ Roll Can’t Save Me,” showcasing his ability to transform pain into profound musical expression. With the guidance of producer Paul Moak, Mayfield's latest work stands as a dark yet hopeful narrative, resonating deeply with themes of perseverance and the relentless pursuit of hope.

 How did the band form and how did you arrive at using your name as the official band name?

I've been in lots of bands over the years, but this project is just under my name, Matthew Mayfield.  I've had to make peace with being the name on the marquee.  If it's a good night, it feels like I got it right.  If it's a slow night - like a rainy Tuesday in a tough market - it feels like I did something wrong.  But the pendulum swing is just of the traveling circus I signed up for when I was a kid.

Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?

I started playing guitar at 9 years old thanks to my Dad.  He's a hell of a player/singer and helped me grease the wheels on guitar as a little kid starting out.  I've been fascinated with Rock'n'Roll dating back to my earliest memories.  

First concert that you ever went to?

I was 6 years old when my mom took me to see Richard Marx / Wilson Phillips in 1990.  Haha. At that age, just seeing the spectacle and the production elements were super fascinating.  My second show was a bit better:  Slash's Snakepit in '95.  Slash was the sole reason I got the bug for being an electric guitar player, without a doubt.  That show changed my life.  

What's your writing process like?

It varies quite a bit these days.  I keep a running list of titles, lyric ideas, and riffs on me at all times in case the creative waves start to roll in.  I've written some of my favorite songs on my steering wheel while singing into a voice recorder.  I also keep all of my handwritten lyric / idea sheets, even if I think they're terrible in the moment! When I'm chasing a melody or just a vocal idea, those pieces of "garbage" lying around the room can save the day and help me find exactly what I'm looking for.  I usually start with an acoustic guitar or a piano...just something for context.  Then I just let the song and I get to know one another.  

What other artists or songs inspire your music? 

Goodness...that's tough! The early 90s were super formative years for me with artists like Pearl Jam, REM,  Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Springteen, Guns N' Roses, Don Henley...that list is endless.  But thankfully those artists took me back to THEIR heroes of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Hendrix, Clapton, etc.  I love meeting new artists these days and hearing a similar story of how certain records led them back in time.  That process teaches all of us to appreciate and respect the artists who came before us, regardless of the 'genre.'  I don't care much for that term anyway.  :) 

What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be its own thing?

For me, it's all about connection.  I've always said that I'm a fan first and an artist second. What would my favorite bands do?  What did I love about their shows and how can I take a little piece of each one, throw it in the blender, and come out with my unique vibe. I never play the same set twice and I never play anything identically to how it was recorded.  I love the authenticity and vulnerability that accompany being on stage even if it's just me and a guitar at times.  In a band setting, I lean into who's behind me on the drum kit...I always have.  They're the backbone and the foundation...and I'm lucky to have one of the best drummers in the world behind me in the mighty Wil Drake.  We met in 2004, signed a deal with Epic Records in 2005, spent lots of years cutting our teeth on the road, and have remained close ever since.  That's so rare in this circus of a "business."

Has the band toured? What has the touring experience been?

I started touring with my previous band, Moses Mayfield, in 2004 and I've never looked back.  The road can wear you out when everyone's crammed into a van and dragging gear in/out every night, but the time spent on the stage makes it worth all the miles.  Some of my best shows have been completely unexpected, which is one of the most incredible feelings.  Loading into a small rock club at 3:30 on a Thursday in Minneapolis or NYC and having no idea if anyone's gonna show up can be intimidating...but when the promoter tells you it's sold out, there's something magical about that which helps reinvigorate your heart and soul.  It reminds you that no matter what happened in the last city, you've still got folks who want to support you / sing along.  That's pure magic. 

What's up next for the band?

My new record, "PRIZEFIGHTER" was released on May 17th. I am so excited to finally get this one out into the wild!  The first 3 singles ("Belle Of The Ball," "Breathe Out In Black," and "Die In A Ghost Town) have all been released it's time to get the full album out there. Due to the pandemic and budget issues, I haven't put out a record since 2019, which is the longest I've gone in my entire career.  This one's a nod to always getting back up, always persevering, and knowing what you're fighting for.

Leave a comment