Jars of Clay's Matthew Odmark Talks Guitars With Gibson

(Gibson) Jars of Clay are anything but newbies. Over the years, the Nashville-based Christian alternative rock band has scored three Grammy Awards and sold 5.2 million albums and 1.4 million singles.

Head to a Jars of Clay show, and you'll spot guitarist Matthew Odmark playing a variety of Gibson models on the stage. "Each of my Gibsons does a very unique and specific thing," he told Gibson.com. "It feels like a real instrument. They are rough around the edges in just the right way to make you feel like you are holding a living thing."

Odmark checked in with Gibson.com to talk about his journey into guitar, the story behind the band's eleventh studio album, INLAND, and the thrill of winning the 2001 Gibson Guitar Award for Best Acoustic Guitar.

How did you first discover guitar? My dad played. He is very musical and, in fact, has begun building guitars in his retirement. He had guitars and he played, but to be honest, I did not pick it up until early high school. I had played piano and trumpet prior to that, and it wasn't until I was 13 or so that I picked up one of my dad's guitars and began to fool around.

What guitarists shaped your early learning and playing? Like any serious music kid growing up in Rochester, N.Y., WCMF shaped my understanding of popular music. Album-oriented rock and classic rock were my education: Zeppelin, Rush, Yes, Kansas, Genesis. For some reason, I was drawn to the more melodically adventurous parts of the more progressive artists in this genre. It was those guitarists that were my earliest influences. As I picked up and started playing more acoustic guitar in college, I was drawn to James Taylor and especially the Indigo Girls, as I loved how they used to different complimentary acoustic guitar parts to create richer and more complex chord voicings.

What are the specific challenges of playing guitar in Jars of Clay? Playing with another player like Steve Mason forces you into a collaboration. There is no, "Hey I play guitar— I will just do my thing." There is always a discussion in a song about, "What will you do? What will I do? How will we use the combination of those two elements to do something interesting in the sonic presentation of the song?"

Jars of Clay are on this road this September. What's the story behind this tour? We're out in support of our newest record, INLAND. INLAND is a self-released record that is over two years in the making for the band. It's a record we did in collaboration with Portland-based producer Tucker Martine and had the privilege to work on with Matt Chamberlin on drums. It's a project that is very dear to the band's heart and reflects the notion that, at almost 20 years in, some of the band's best creative work is still in front of us. Read the rest of the interview here.

Gibson.com is an official news provider for antiMusic.com.

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