with Matthew Kendall of Rogue Motel
Name: Rogue Motel
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?
Matt – Well I grew up on the road with my father, literally sleeping in his guitar case when I was really young & later playing bass with him when I was 8 or 9. I started writing songs around that age as well & just never stopped. Once I was an adult, I had to make some specific decisions about pursuing a career in music, but I pretty much have known since I can remember.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Matt – Growing up in Nashville I got to see a lot of studio sessions that were amazing. My proudest moment is the complete ownership of my career. I’ve been able to make records & tour on my own terms. I have an unending list of amazing fellow musicians who are truly special, & of course the first time I received a royalty check in the mail was nice.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Matt – Accidentally decided at the age of 27.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Matt – Once my son came along, I really went into high gear concerning my career. I really started to focus & made decisions for where I wanted to be & what I wanted to be doing. When I was single & before I had kids, I was your typical live in the moment, something is gonna happen to me, musician. But the minute I looked into my son’s eyes for the first time, I realized it was not about me anymore & that was a serious kick to my motivation. But it is definitely harder with children. Being gone on tour & the hours that you have to keep don’t necessarily line up with the structure that really benefits children. Plus I get tired faster these days, can’t pull the three day bender anymore.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Matt – Well I guess time will tell on that one. I’m a pretty involved dad, so I’m hopeful that my children will not be too adversely affected by my career choice, but every child is to some extent. The big one is being gone for long periods of time when we tour. I can tell that they miss me. My father always said, “You know your a successful parent, if your children can pay for their own counseling.” Ha! When my girl was born, I was on tour in Seattle that night. I got a call from my wife around 4am saying she had gone into labor. I got in my truck, which I had brought along just in case, left the boys in the bus & drove home (Portland). I made it in around 8am & she was born around 8:30 or 9am. So I’m sure that had an impact on my wife.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Matt – We didn’t do the whole kids music thing, although there was this one Baby Rock Radiohead record which is all glockenspeil & vibes & bells & totally instrumental & it’s really haunting & creepy, but mostly we just listen to what we want to listen to & I write what I write, I don’t think about it too much. It has affected how much playing I do in the house, it’s hard to find a few hours to write when there are a 3 & 2 year-olds running around. So the amount of time I spend writing has diminished.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Matt – Sure. That’s the life though. Paycheck to paycheck. We have health insurance for the kids & hopefully we’ll get some sort of national health care plan in place in the next few years. That would be really helpful. That’s the only real concern I have. You really don’t need too much to survive, or at least we don’t. But I need to know that my kids can be taken care of without sending us into an unrecoverable debt spiral.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Matt – Well I tried to tour in my earlier adult life, but could never find a band that was on the same page. Of course I spent my childhood on tour, so I’ve definitely had that experience. There are limitations for sure, but touring is part of the life. It’s increasingly more important as well, with the direction the industry has gone in the last 10 years, you have to tour now.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Matt – Father for sure. I’m directly responsible for two little souls that are going to enter the community at large & be a part of it. Most people in my community don’t know my music.… Ha!
QRD – Would you rather see your children eventually become musicians or parents?
Matt – Both I guess, but I’d be more interested in seeing them do what they want. If that’s music, so be it. It that’s parenting, so be it. I like to imagine that they start a band together & tour the world & I get to be their manager...
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Matt – It changes day to day, week to week, month to month. Sometimes I’m very busy with music & it takes up the majority of my time, but then it will slow down & I’ll be able to give the kids as much time as they want. Generally, days are filled with the kids, but nights are filled with music.
QRD – What do your kids think of your music?
Matt – I guess they like it. They copy me & sing & play their guitars & harmonicas. My daughter has tremendous rhythm & they can both carry a tune pretty well. They are still young enough to want to be like their daddy.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?
Matt – Absolutely. I’d love it.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Matt – It’s possible to do everything you
want. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.
Your only limitations are the ones that you place on yourself.