Lazy-i Interview: The Return of Matthew Sweet @ The Waiting Room this Saturday…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: — @ 8:43 am February 15, 2024

Matthew Sweet plays at The Waiting Room Saturday night. Photo by Evan Carter.

by Tim McMahan,

When people talk about successful bands from Omaha, they immediately think of Bright Eyes or (more likely) 311 – a band that moved to California just before they hit it big. But one of the most successful Nebraska musicians from the ’90s (and today) still lives right here in Omaha. 

Born and raised in Lincoln, Matthew Sweet had one of the biggest hits of the early ’90s with his gem-filled power-pop collection Girlfriend (1991, Zoo Records) that boasted infectious singles like the title track, “I’ve Been Waiting,” “Evangeline” and “Divine Intervention.” The album became an international indie favorite.

It would be followed by Alterer Beast in ’93, 100% Fun in ’95 and the critical obscurity Kimi Ga Suki in 2003. In his heyday, when he wasn’t touring Sweet lived in Los Angeles. 

But as he said in an interview last month, after 20 years in La La Land Sweet moved back to Nebraska — and Omaha — 10 years ago. In fact, I once bumped into him at a Thai restaurant in Aksarben Village, whispering to my wife over my Tom Ka Chicken, “Pssst… look over there, eating those noodles, it’s Matthew Sweet.”

“It’s amazing that there still are people who recognize me, because I feel like a relic of a bygone era,” Sweet said. “But hey, we’re going out touring again. I’m finally getting out after Covid, and it’s been a long time.”

Four years, to be precise. Sweet said a health issue made him very afraid to go out in public during the pandemic, not only for himself, but also knowing so many bands that announced tours only to cancel them when a band member came down with Covid. 

“And then over the last year, I’ve really gotten myself together on my health and solved some problems — some breathing things I had — that had made it a big danger for me getting Covid,” Sweet said.

His first performance outing was at the fabeled 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida in early January. 

“I was very, very freaked out and horrified to have to sing and play at all,” Sweet said, adding that he’d only performed a few times online during the pandemic years, “but not really in a venue with real mics and PA. I was able to play a whole hour-long set with the backup of a couple of friends, and my voice worked surprisingly well.”

For this mini-tour that includes the performance this Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Waiting Room, Sweet has pulled together a band that includes him on rhythm guitar, John Moremen (who played on 2017’s Tomorrow Forever album) on lead guitar, Paul Chastain of Velvet Crush on bass and drummer Debbi Peterson from The Bangles. 

“Debbie’s a good friend of mine from Los Angeles,” Sweet said. “She came out here in 2016 or 17 to play drums on Tomorrow Forever, and I’ve recorded the Bangles at my house in Los Angeles. She’s a really good drummer.” Since this interview, Adrian Carter has been added to the band on 6- and 12-string acoustic. 

Sweet said the show’s set list will consist mostly of fan favorites. “Honestly, I’ve never been the sort of artist who has to force new stuff on people, even when they want to hear other things,” he said. “It’s great to see the reaction from people hearing the songs they remember and care about.”

That said, Sweet just released a new album – Live in Grant Park Chicacgo July 1993. The 17-song collection includes favorites from Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun, performed live backed by a band that included Richard Lloyd (Television) on lead guitar, Will Rigby (the dB’s) on drums and Tony Marsico (Cruzados) on bass. 

In addition, Sweet is in the early stages of writing his next album, which has a project title Midsommar, a name he “swiped” from one of his favorite recent movies. “I really like that title,” Sweet said. “I’m having the ideas for the songs musically. I’m having tons of lyric ideas and all of it’s starting to come kind of in advance of making the album.”

For Sweet, songwriting inspiration comes from every angle and every medium – film, art and music. When he isn’t making music, he can be found making art, including his lovable cat images that are taking the world by storm.

“I was never good when a label wanted (me to write) a single,” Sweet said. “If anything, as I’ve gotten older, I feel more like an artist because it helps me to think about what I do and who I am. It’s more about doing the art than about whether someone cares at this point. I turned 59 in the fall. I’m sort of at a place where I kind of feel like I can be doing my little things whether I’m making a living or not. And I think that’s what it means to be an artist.”

Matthew Sweet plays with Abe Partridge Feb. 17 at The Waiting Room. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 Adv./$25 DOS. For more information, go to

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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