Icing: “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” with Noah Britton featuring Prolific Comedy Song Creator MATT FARLEY
Good almost afternoon on the West Coast to you all. Today we have for you another episode of “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” with Noah Britton where he interviews the prolific comedy song creator MATT FARLEY of Motern Media. Each episode of this comedy interview ELARA.fm radio show “focuses on a funny person or group and digs deep for hilarious stuff even big fans of theirs dont know.” Farley has been releasing music since the 90s, but made the most creative impact from the funniest of his endeavors. He’s been able to live off of the streaming royalties of more than 20K songs released under 75 plus band names, the most famous being “Toilet Bowl Cleaners” (featuring songs of the “Poopyb*tthole” variety). Listen (and if you prefer, read about) this unique, and SEO savvy musician and songwriter of the comedy variety NOW.
Noah Britton: Hello and welcome to “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard,” I’m your host Noah Britton. Each episode of this show focuses on a funny person or group and digs deep for hilarious stuff even big fans of theirs don’t know. This week our guest is Matt Farley of Motern Media. Matt Farley has been releasing music since the early 90’s, but it wasn’t until 2007 when he discovered that, after over a decade, the only songs of his that made any money online were the silly ones like “Shut Up Your Monkey” (clip of “Shut Up Your Monkey” plays).
Instead of quitting music, he decided to capitalize on this realization and started releasing as many novelty songs as possible with the goal of making enough albums that, even with profits of $2 per song, he could earn a living.
In the first instance I know of of an artist relying on search engine optimization to dictate his art, Matt Farley started recording songs named after celebrities, songs with the same title as pre-existing famous songs, and songs named for household objects that didn’t yet have themes, like the punch bowl (clip of “Punch Bowl” plays).
In 2017, Matt was finally able to quit his day job and now lives entirely on streaming royalties from the more than 20,000 songs he released under 75+ band names, including “The Guy Who Sings Songs about Cities and Towns,” (clip of “Waterbury, CT” plays) “The Best Birthday Song Band Ever” (“October 4th,” “July 8th,” and “February 29th” play) and “The Guy Who Sings Your Name Over and Over,” (“Nathan” plays) but the most famous of Matt’s projects has to be The Toilet Bowl Cleaners, whose albums include ‘Songs About Poop, Puke, and Pee’, (clip of “Poop” plays), ‘The White Album (with Brown and Yellow Stains)’ (clip of “Butt Cheeks” plays).
and ‘You Thought We Ran Out of Poop Song Ideas (You Were Wrong)’ (clip of “Bristol Stool Chart” plays).
So far The Toilet Bowl Cleaners have released 12 albums about gross bodily fluids and one album of mature love songs named, in Matt’s typical literal style, ‘Mature Love Songs’ (“I’m Brokenhearted ’cause You’re Gone” plays).
Though The Toilet Bowl Cleaners have millions of Spotify streams, few came from that album which was, in Matt’s words, a flop, so he has since returned to form on two other Toilet Bowl Cleaners albums: ‘Poop, Oh Yeah, Poop, Yes, Aha, Poop’ and ‘The Emergency Poop EP.’ (clip of “Poop is its own Reward” plays).
The Toilet Bowl Cleaners aren’t Matt’s only scatological group. The Odd Man Who Sings about Poop, Puke, and Pee is a competing project on Motern Media that, as usual, consists entirely of Matt Farley (clip of “Honey Badger Poop” by The Odd Man Who Sings about Poop, Puke, and Pee plays).
And this is when things begin to get really interesting. Matt created a dispute between his band The Singing Animal Lover (which is just him) and the record label Motern Media (which is also just him).
So, initially, The Singing Animal Lover released two albums of songs about animals, (clip of “Llama plays”) followed by an album called ‘It’s Time to Know the Truth’ (clip of “Matt Farley is a Con Artist” plays) which was the first album Matt put out that wasn’t on Motern Media, followed by The Singing Animal Lover’s album ‘Animal Poop Songs’ which came out 10 days after the album of the same name by The Odd Man Who Sings about Poop, Puke, and Pee.’ Both of these albums have almost identical song titles including The Singing Animal Lover’s version of a honey badger poop song (clip of “Honey Badger Poop” by The Singing Animal Lover plays).
Noah Britton: Matt, I want to welcome you and thank you very much for doing this interview. How did you think of this last idea?
Matt Farley: I don’t know it just dawned on me like “wouldn’t it be hilarious if – if these two entities are fighting?” ‘Cuz everyone loves a music beef you know?
Noah: What other conflicts, what other beefs, do you have on the label?
Matt: The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man… he had a… he had a breakdown when he came out with ‘Common Phrases’ and Matt Farley, the guy who runs Motern Media, was not pleased but he decided to, like, ride it out, and he let The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man make his… He wanted to do like a personal album. Instead of singing novelty songs, he wanted to sing about his personal struggles, and he did an album called ‘Keep being Awesome,’ which is a masterpiece, um, about just being isolated and sad and miserable
(clip of “Keep on Yelling Loud” by The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man).
Matt: Then Matt Farley performed a lobotomy on him to fix him
Matt: and so if you look at the cover of his next album, which is called ‘Games and Sports’ he’s got like a bandage around his head and he’s back to singing jolly songs about about everyday occurrences.
Noah: That’s an extremely optimistic view of what a lobotomy would do to someone.
Matt: Well, there’s the belief that he didn’t even perform the procedure he just told the guy that he was doing it, that was enough
Noah: Placebo effect
Matt: Exactly, and then The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man finds love in his next album called ‘Roy and Kathy’ and it’s all about his brief love affair with this girl named Kathy who is also the love interest of The Guy Who Sings about Cities and Towns.
Noah: And was she the one who left on the album “I’ve Never Left My Hometown?”
Matt: Yes, exactly, that’s Kathy. Kathy leaves Ebenezer (Ebenezer is the name of The Guy Who Sings about Cities and Towns) and immediately meets Roy who is The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man and has a brief weekend fling with him.
Noah: Wow, so do you think Kathy will ever have a child with anyone on your label?
Matt: Kathy’s gotta come out with a solo album where she laments the fact that she doesn’t choose men very wisely.
Noah: So that’s awesome, ‘cuz I also had spoken about the various out-of-character albums.
So we have ‘Mature Love Songs’ by The Toilet Bowl Cleaners and then we have ‘Never Left My Hometown’ by The Guy Who Sings about Cities and Towns, what other out of character records have shown up besides those ones you just mentioned?
Matt: So yeah, the one I said, ‘Keep being Awesome,’ by The Very Nice Interesting Singer Man, and then there’s ‘Intensely Personal Songs’ by The Passionate and Objective Jokerfan and then there’s one called ‘Paparazzi Gets Introspective and Shares his Worldview’ by Paparazzi and the Photogs
Noah: So this leads me to two questions. So the first one is where did you get the name The Passionate and Objective Jokerfan?
Matt: He evolved into a character who sings about singers and music but he started off… I just had an idea way back like in ’08 I was like “I should do a whole album about Bob Dylan” and Dylan has a song called “Jokerman” and so I end up with Jokerfan. Passionate and Objective, I just threw that in there, ‘cuz the more words in your artist name the more likely you’re going to hit on a search.
Noah: Oh I wondered why that was, because your band names almost never roll off the tongue comfortably and I wondered why that was and it’s – it’s the SEO thing again. So the Jokerfan joke is a really interesting thing because it reminds me of Motern media which is also an extraordinarily esoteric pun that probably no one has ever figured out without it being explained.
Matt: I don’t know if I figured it out what is the pun?
Noah: Well I thought it was a portmanteau of modern and Motown right?
Matt: Oh, uh, I mean, no. It was just a word I made up in the 90’s. I was trying to write a book that was 10,000 pages long. My only goal was to fill ten thousand pages and I just – I was trying to write a different world and I accidentally wrote Motern, and then I was like maybe that should be the name of the book? I only got 2000 pages though.
Noah: Wow so that’s fascinating cuz even by the 90’s you were into these endurance experiments, and yet it took you another 10 years to do it or even to think about attempting it in your musical career.
Matt: Yeah well I mean I was pretty pretty prolific, you know, like senior in college I made five albums each were 90 minutes long
Noah: OK, that was Moe’s Haven right?
Matt: Yeah yeah and then in ’06, Moe’s Haven we… we did 30 minutes of music every day for the entire year.
Noah: Right, and then you compiled those into the best album of the month?
Noah: Cuz I always saw that as the beginning of your endurance projects so that’s ought-six but if you want to write a 10,000 word book 10 years later… I think it’s really interesting like why… why is it that you have such a mathematical approach to music?
Matt: I dunno, I just find… I just like, you know, enormous projects that… I just think they’re interesting and funny to think of and it was just my instinct and, you know, slowly, I developed a philosophy around it and it… mostly the philosophy is um… if you sit around and try to make a perfect work of art… If you spend five years working on one perfect work of art, maybe it’ll be really good, but if you spend those five years just making a hundred works of art then, you know, you probably have 10 things that are just as good as that perfect one would have been, and I find it to be stifling to to try to make one great thing.
Noah: Have you ever heard of the performance artist Teh-Ching Hsieh?
Noah: So, he did these endurance pieces in the early 80’s. The first one was he took a picture of himself every hour for a year at this time clock, so he couldn’t go more than half an hour away from where the time clock was located, ever. And this wasn’t something that he made for anyone else to see, he just did it. And the next year, he did a piece where he spent an entire year basically locked in a jail cell that he built. And he’d have somebody come bring him food, and that was it. He didn’t do anything else but sit in this jail cell that he built. And it was open to the public like 4 days where you could just see this guy sitting in a jail cell and that was all he did with this performance piece. And then another one was he couldn’t go indoors for a year and so he slept outside – and this all happened in New York City – so he’s freezing, you know, in the cold, homeless for a year. And then the most interesting one, I think, was he and another artist tied themselves together with a rope for a year so they were never more than like 5 or 10 feet apart. And, they didn’t know each other very well at the beginning, and when they were laying in bed, you could look at the ceiling and see where they had scratched the ceiling, ‘cuz they were so annoyed with each other, ‘cuz they couldn’t get any privacy. And yet they both continued with this project. And it reminds me of you, in that it’s so much work with so little concern for external validation, but, at the same time, obviously, there is something in him that knows this is genius and he deserves some credit for this stuff. And I think you outwardly admit this, sometimes, in your work and you have the songs about how you’re a hack and how you’re you’re bad at this. I’ll play one (“Matt Farley is a Hack” plays)
Noah: Was this a fleeting feeling of like “I’m a hack and my stuff is bad” or was this something that is sort of always in the back of your head?
Matt: Nah, I mean, my self-confidence is is pretty huge and and so even when I was doing that song… like… obviously I could recognize criticism of my stuff, especially when it’s a song that I just bang on a few chords and sing, you know people say like “that’s not a song” and I might [say], like, “Yeah, well it’s kind of funny” and just the fact that it exists is what makes it funny to me, you know?
Matt: So yeah I… I don’t get down on myself at all. I think it’s hilarious, but, I mean, I think all those descriptions you tell me about that guy – I think – I think that’s hilarious too.
Noah: It is. He now owns a restaurant in Brooklyn and, unfortunately, it’s not that weird. It’s just a regular restaurant that’s kind of expensive.
Noah: But, yeah, he’s one of those people who you know nobody could do what he did and I think you’re in that group for sure
Matt: So a lot of times, when there is an article about me, you see comments where people are like “I should do that” and I say “Yeah right! You’ll give up after 25 songs!” You have no idea the amount of time and just like… psychic energy that it takes to write one song, let alone thousands.
Noah: So I saw an interview where you said you would do 30 to 40 songs a day, do you know what’s the most you’ve written in one day?
Matt: For like completely original, each song is completely its own thing? Right around there in the thirties somewhere.
Noah: Wow, that’s amazing.
Matt: And then, um, actually, now that I think of it, I did 60 in one day once.
Noah: Wow, what were they?
Matt: Most of them were not released. That was in college. My friend Tom from Moe’s Haven, it was right, like, the day before graduating. I was like “you know we can release one more 90-minute album” and we made a list of, like, 60 topics and just strummed on some chords and then start singing and we did it, we filled up the tape.
Noah: Wow, so, yeah, of course. So this leads me to another thing I’ve wondered: you say you’ve released 20,000 songs, does this exclude all of your early work with Moe’s Haven that’s not available?
Matt: Right, that’s only what’s been released.
Noah: Well, that was released but in small quantities.
Matt: Yeah, no, but I mean, there’s even more unreleased Moe’s Haven stuff.
Noah: Sure, of course.
Matt: There’s probably at least a thousand unreleased Moe’s Haven songs.
Noah: What about private or personal stuff that not Moe’s Haven? How many unreleased songs has Matt Farley written alone?
Matt: Only, only custom songs. I do like 3- to 500 custom songs every year that people pay for and most of those don’t get released.
Noah: So that’s been going on how long then?
Matt: Since… since 2016. I’ve been doing it before then, I did a bunch but-
Noah: -so you’ve recorded more than 23,000 songs then, as far as stuff even that people have gotten to hear?
Matt: Yeah, but then you would – I want to be honest – and it’s like The Guy Who Sings Your Name Over and Over Again, it’s the same song but a different name and that’s like seventeen-hundred of them right there-
Noah: -that’s honest. Well, you know, bands keep ripping off their hit to try and get popular again so you’re you’re doing the same thing.
Noah: Why haven’t you ever done an album purely for the purpose of having the most songs on it, and by that I mean every song is one second long?
Matt: CDBaby, the company that I use to release music, they have a limit. It’s a hundred tracks in an album, so they wouldn’t-
Matt: -and Spotify won’t pay until someone’s been listening at least 20 seconds-
Noah: -interesting. So you need to release a lot of 20 second songs then.
Matt: I don’t want to get on Spotify’s bad side, um, I try to keep it all above board. All the songs are at least a minute you know. And, cuz, I love Spotify. A lot of people look at what I’m doing and they’re like “haha you’re showing Spotify, you’re beating them at their game” and I’m like “no, Spotify is amazing! I have a membership and I even think it pays well. A lot of people complain about the pay rate but I think it’s fair.
Noah: And that’s how you make your living is Spotify, right?
Matt: Yeah, that and the custom songs.
Noah: yeah, yeah that’s amazing. so this leads me to the question why do you hate swearing so much?
Matt: I don’t do it cuz in 5th grade all my friends started using bad words and then they would like, gang up on me, and say “Why aren’t you you saying bad words? Say a bad word” and I was like “I’m not going to say a word just ‘cuz you guys are being mean to me” and um basically, just because of that, I was like “Well if I’m not going to say a bad word now for them, I guess I should never say one” you know? I just don’t want to give them the satisfaction.
Noah: (laughing) So you, 30 years later, you’re trying to prove something to children who are now grown ups are-
Matt: Yeah, but I’m still friends with them. I see them and they’re like “say one swear, come on!” and I’m like “NO! I won’t do it!”
Noah: (laughing) That’s amazing! So I went to your monthly celebration at the Danvers Historical Society… Me and Jack Hanke from Asperger’s Are Us went to see it. It was awesome. I recommend everybody go, the last Saturday of every month that you’re allowed to leave the house, free show, 7 sharp, free snacks, but if you take a snack you have to stay for the whole show. And I didn’t feel like leaving. That… that didn’t push me to stay, I really loved it.
Matt: Thank you.
Noah: I’m sure there are some who don’t agree. So the other thing about that show, which I loved, again, it was, it was so funny, was your fans are really intense in how much they’ll do to come see you. And so someone had flown in from Indiana, I think, that night, and you said you had people from Australia and Belgium who fly in just to see you-
Matt: Yeah, yeah it’s pretty… So in addition to the monthly shows, once a year I have the Extravaganza and that’s when when people really will really travel, you know? Several people from Canada, people from all over the US, and at this point, we’re all friends with each other and, um, it’s turning into, like, a weekend-long hangout you know? The next one is going to be in October and, um, I know like a lot of people who go like meet up for lunch ahead of time and just kind of hang out and explore the area and then the day after the Extravaganza, so October 25th, we’re gonna premiere the new movie we’re working on: Metal Detector Maniacs. So there’ll be stuff to do the whole weekend.
Noah: That’s pretty cool. Have you done tours ever?
Matt: No. I mean, it’s cool that I’m at the point where I can do the live show right in my hometown so, like, I like performing but touring just feels like a lot of work and um-
Matt: And potentially not for a lot of reward you know?
Matt: Like a night that I spend in the basement recording five songs is more productive than packing up a van and driving somewhere, setting up, performing for like seven people, you know, and then
Noah: Yeah, makes sense. Well, maybe someday you’ll be able to perform for a thousand people and then, then it would be worth it, I would hope. So, just to set the scene for all the listeners: These shows are at the Danvers Historical Society, which is a place, like there are in a lot of small towns, where old people go to watch something that’s kind of dull. And then Matt Farley shows up and sings “Poop into a Wormhole” and I understand why you would want people to… to have to stay… to feel obligated to stay… cuz it wouldn’t surprise me if some people are like “this is gross” or “this is stupid, I don’t want to stay” but it’s so funny and it’s so good.
Matt: You could see a few old ladies who get a little uncomfortable during the poop songs. Often I’ll apologize to them and tell them “I’ll do 2 more poop songs, you’re going to get through this.” But, I mean, old ladies is not necessarily my target audience, you know?
Matt: But I mean, the thing is, like, kids are finding the songs. And, I mean, two million streams just for one song on Spotify is amazing.
Matt: The thing is they know about The Toilet Bowl Cleaners but they don’t know about me necessarily you know?
Noah: Yes. It fascinates me that anyone could hear that and not want to know more about you. I just always… you know… when you hear someone doing something weird like this, you want to know who made it and what other weird things have they made, but I think some people are just like, “that was kind of funny, I’m going to go have dinner.”
Noah: That’s their interest in conceptual art, but those are not my listeners! So, when you recorded “The Poop Song,” did you have any sense that this would be the thing that children would find because they want a poop song? Or was it just like “this is something people seem to like, I’m going to use it”?
Matt: A little… a little bit. At that point I had recorded maybe three or four poop albums and then at some point I was like I need to have one that’s called “The Poop Song” so it’s like so… just those exact words to make the simple… searchable as possible. But I definitely didn’t put a lot of work into it. like-
Noah: -it doesn’t show! How often do you listen to the stuff you just recorded?
Matt: If it’s an album about celebrities, I record it and that’s it, pretty much.
Noah: Are there any songs that you’ve literally never listened to after recording?
Matt: I have to, just for quality control, I got to make sure that, at least when I’m uploading it, that the song matches the title.
Noah: One of your great should-be hits is “Mac and Cheese” and it is a hit on TikTok. Do you have any idea how this happened?
Matt: Oh, no, no idea.
(“Mac and Cheese” plays)
Matt: What’s beautiful about all the novelty songs is that they’re making me enough money that I can afford to write these heartfelt honest songs that I’m actually way more proud of so…
Noah: Mmhmm. One thing that I couldn’t find evidence of you ever having done is writing a song with a message of some kind. Why is this? It seems like, if you’re writing every song possible about every possible topic, this would be a thing you could do. But are you… Are you consciously staying away from it or does it just not interest you?
Matt: Yeah I don’t like… I don’t like messages. I feel like… I feel like when… when like… when there’s a movie about like, whatever, the, you know, like, the issue du jour, you know?
Matt: You make the movie about whatever is like the thing that… that’s on the pulse of the zeitgeist, then that movie gets into all the film festivals and the movie doesn’t have to be good because you’re hiding behind the issues. You make this garbage movie but everyone’s afraid to say “sorry this movie stinks” because it’s about whatever people are talking about at the time, and those movies just become very dated and no one goes back to them. And I feel the same way about music, you know? I mean “We are the World,” you know? I hate that so much. it just feels so opportunistic and it just… and I know that I am considered the spammer of Spotify and a fake artist, but I do have… I do have integrity, and it’s I’m not going to sing about whatever, you know? So many people do stuff like that and it… it bugs me to no end. What was the one when Macklemore had the song about like, about homosexuality or something, you remember that?
Noah: “Same Love.”
Matt: (sarcastically) Oh, Macklemore you’re so… you’re so open-minded it’s so… “Oh I respect you so much.”
Noah: (laughing) I’m pleased you don’t let yourself do any virtue signaling, but you’re also a big fan of Bob Dylan and Bob Dylan did make songs that had messages to them.
Matt: Yeah and I think he was being quite opportunistic and conniving when he did it.
Noah: OK, interesting… that’s… that’s very possible, and I respect the fact that your songs don’t have messages, because, you know I’m sure, that would kill a lot of your audience who just love you because it’s pure and they don’t have to worry about whether they agree or disagree with you.
Matt: Yea, well it’s impossible to agree with anybody, especially in terms of public figures. People are particular of the beliefs of their public figures, like, as if James Joyce had the right opinion about every potential topic. Like, I don’t know what his topics were, but he wrote some good books. Like, I don’t tackle specific issues, but I’m sure some of the songs are about calling out fraudulent and what not-
Noah: -have you had anybody recommend you record a song or even hire you to record a song where you’re like “I literally can’t do this, this is impossible”?
Matt: Well, I don’t, really, in terms of just recommending I have trouble doing a song if it’s, um… if it didn’t come from from me, cuz it just… it becomes like laborious. People send me suggestions a lot and I accept them as graciously as I can but it’s like, as soon as the suggestion comes, for the most part, like, I’m no longer interested in the topic.
Noah: This is how “Weird” Al operates as well. The only time he ever did a song anyone else suggested was when he heard Madonna had suggested “Like a Surgeon”
Matt: Yeah, and if Madonna made a suggestion I’d probably move forward for sure. But in terms of custom songs, I mean, I take, I do almost every suggestion that, you know, people are paying and I’ll sing about almost everything they want. I don’t… I still don’t say bad words and there’ve been a few where I was just like “I just don’t feel quite… I don’t feel like this is right for me” but I mean I’ve… I’ve said no to like less than 10… but I mean I have I’ve done songs for funerals, you know?
Noah: Yeah, what was that song?
Matt: Like it was just a Matt Farley song, kind of, you know, celebrating the guy’s life, and doing it with the… you know… some emotion and some humor and-
Noah: Was he a fan?
Matt: Uh, yeah, it was the girlfriend of the deceased who had me do the song and previously she had… she had me do a song trying to cheer him up, when he was sick. So they knew my music, and I am assuming that song was something they liked listening to and… you got the idea. I don’t even know if she played it at… if she ended up playing it at the funeral. For all I know, she heard it and was like “forget it,” but I did… I did my duty.
Noah: okay but, like, I can’t imagine you were singing in the way that you sing on “Punch Bowl” or something like that. You were, I’m guessing, trying to sing more like “I’ll Make a Poster” or one of the quieter ones.
Noah: Cool. What do you want played at your funeral?
Matt: I don’t know, that’s a good question. Yeah I got nothing for you on that one. I don’t know. Noah: Would it be one of yours or someone else?
Matt: It might as well be one of mine. I mean this is my last show
Noah: Then you’ll get the royalties.
Matt: (laughing) yeah you gotta stream it, don’t play any MP3s.
Noah: Perhaps you could even make a record of songs “Songs to Play at My Funeral.”
Matt: Yeah I’ll make a little playlist, yeah, and that’s a good idea I’ll-
Noah: -or even even just writing songs specifically for your funeral-
Matt: thank you.
Noah: I would go just to hear that, you know, like “I’m dead! I probably miss you!” Yeah. I love the literal way that you write stuff because, you know, how else could it be? It would be tough to use metaphor if you’re writing 60 songs in a day but the literalness also, in addition to being faster just makes it so much funnier.
Matt: Yeah. I remember once, back in the 90’s, I went to a show in Providence and the guy, he introduced the song, I don’t even remember what the band was, it was the opening band and he was like “this is this about a guy watching his house burn down” and I immediately was like (sings) “my house is burning down, oh no, look at it burn, oh no” and then he goes into this like… strumming the guitar and it’s this poetic thing like you can’t even know what it was about.
Noah: Well, that’s why he had to explain it!
Matt: I was disappointed but, clearly I was already on the path for my life’s work.
Noah: I do think it would be funny if during your shows you introduced like “This is a song about a punch bowl!” but for every song ‘cuz they’re always self-explanatory. How many people have listened to all of your songs so far?
Matt: I think there’s one guy in Wisconsin, he chronicled it on Twitter a few years ago, and then there’s another guy currently in the Tampa, Florida area who’s in the midst of doing it. But the guy in Tampa, he’s taking notes and whatnot, too. He’s got a website where he is… he’s like keeping track of what he’s discovering. So he’s listened to nothing but me since August.
Noah: I saw his list and it’s amazing because it couldn’t possibly interest anyone but him because it’s not even, just like, esoteric things about the songs but it’s like “number of times you can hear Matt cough” like… who cares? But if you’re only listening to this, this would be the thing that would distinguish songs. You’d notice so many more details.
Matt: He told me I gotta get a less creaky chair.
Noah (laughs): So do you know, have either of these guys said like “I’m glad I did this” or if this was a mistake?
Matt: I had the first guy on my podcast for a little bit. We chatted for a little bit. He was… he was really just a no-nonsense kind of guy and he just did a couple albums every day until he was done and he didn’t really have… I think… I’ll assume he enjoyed it… I mean, he could have stopped. And then the guy in Tampa, I’ve talked to him a few times and then he’s… he’s still very gung-ho about it and having a good time. He’s got a real good sense of humor and he’s got a lot of young kids and so they’re… they’re singing a lot of poop songs in that household.
Noah: That’s beautiful. Yeah, how is it being a dad and having to be, like, “Sorry I got to go to the basement and record 50 songs where I just say ‘Bill’ over and over?”
Matt: Yeah, it’s beautiful that I can, you know, work from home and, you know, my wife works four days a week, so on those days I’m in charge of the kids, so we don’t need any kind of daycare or anything. So that’s good, and then it’s just normal life for the kids to hear the sounds of their dad croaking into a microphone all day long. They just block it out at this point.
Noah: This is a thing I want to always ask all of my guests: So first thing, what’s the funniest thing you’ve done that wasn’t released or recorded?
Matt: Well when we were done with the 365 album project of ’06 I spent… it was a little short of 8 days straight in my apartment listening to every one of them one after the other and I never left the apartment. I had people come to listen with me throughout the week but there are a lot of just long stretches of me sitting there listening to me and that was pretty funny. I mean that definitely qualifies for some some kind of conceptual art piece
Noah: Right absolutely, the dedication. Were you sleeping at all during this time?
Matt: Seah I had a six cd changer so I could sleep up to six hours and then I’d have an alarm set where I’d have to get up and put six more in there and then go back to sleep
Noah: Wait, how does having a 6-cd changer mean you’re allowed to sleep for 6 hours?
Matt: So each disk had an hour of music on it and so I’d press play and then it plays for 6 hours and I don’t have to – I don’t have to change disks right?
Noah: Okay but… so it was playing while you slept?
Noah: So, technically, nobody heard all of that music during that time.
(12 min left)
Matt: Well I mean my ears were-
Matt: -I don’t know what a sleep doctor would –
Matt: -But the sounds were going to my ears.
Noah: Do you remember dreaming about any of this music during that time?
Matt: Much like my children, I blocked it out, I think.
Noah: I’m sorry to hear you blocked your children. What’s a question you wish you would get asked?
Matt: I wish people would listen to the – I call them the no jokes albums – and I’m glad that you listened to a lot of them-
(clip of “I’ll Make a Poster” plays)
Matt: -but, I mean, I would like… I would like to be treated like… like a legitimate songwriter. And, I mean, I have literally, like, dozens of legit good… just like… rock albums )or whatever you want to call them) that I think are as good as anything up there. So, I’d love to have that stuff treated with the respect it deserves… Yeah, and, ultimately, who cares? I get to do it, I get to get those songs out of my system and so what that no one likes-
Noah: -I mean, you’re making your making money as a musician and you’re writing what you want to write, and, you know, people who criticize you saying, like, “he’s just gaming the system,” they’re missing the point, because, first of all, you’re gaming the system to be funny, but, also, you’re gaming the system in a way where the songs you’re writing are your songs. They’re not, like, espousing opinions you disagree with. They’re just, you know, the way you would handle these topics, and so you have true artistic integrity.
Matt: Yeah, thanks. I was just… I was doing all of this stuff way before it was profitable, you know? Like, I wrote “Shut Up Your Monkey in 1998.
Noah: Have you ever thought of just retiring and living off royalties?
Matt: Yeah, yeah, I mean, well, I don’t know, I mean, the whole goal is to have time to make more art. So, I mean, retiring for me would mean… continuing to do what I do… maybe, maybe doing fewer name poop songs or whatever. But, I mean, I would still be churning out the no jokes albums and… or… just… making movies and so on and so forth. So… so otherwise… I don’t know… I don’t want to just sit around and relax too much.
Noah: Right. I know you’ve slowed down since you got the 20,000th song out there, but how many have you released since then?
Matt: I released 136 but I have another, like, 70 that are coming out this month, so we’re looking at two hundred since then.
Noah: What are your favorite funny songs that haven’t gotten as much attention as you think they… they could?
Matt: Yeah, I think there’s that album ‘Household Products and Household Items’ that it’s got the “Punch Bowl” song on it. I mean the “Punch Bowl” song is not popular and I think it’s fantastic. But that whole album, I think, is just full of… full of… treasures. Like, uh “Hand Soap” is a really good song. “Bleach” is amazing.
(clip of “The Bleach Song (I Use Bleach)” plays)
Noah: What are the worst moments you’ve had in this career of making this these things since 2007?
Matt: Worst moment… I mean it’s very hard to get me down. I never really felt… I had my eyes on the prize the whole time. I’ve basically always thought I was I was moving in the right direction. Every once in awhile it stings a little bit when you see a comment online about some stuff but really I’ve just been happily doing my thing. I’m annoyingly positive.
Noah: I don’t think it’s annoying, I think it’s admirable and its very reminiscent of your attitude about recording in the first place where you’ve unlocked the secret of creativity which is just to never question what you’re doing and there’s something to be said for that. That’s the rule of improv. It certainly works. If your goal is to not be self-conscious and you want to make something without fear, that’s… that’s definitely the way to do it.
Matt: I have a playlist called “The Official Motern Media playlist.” It’s got 300 of my best songs. You know, I try to put some of the… the better ones higher up on the list, but for the most part I just… Every time I come out with an album or whatever the best tracks that are… I’ll throw on there.
Noah: Do you wish you could work with any specific musicians?
Matt: Not really. I’m not a good collaborator. Like, I find that just collaborating with people is a very delicate dance, if you will. And I’ve got, you know, three guys that I’ve known for, um, like 30 years, and we work well together, but anytime I try collaborating with… with people that I’ve just kind of met, it’s just hard, and it’s hard to get into a good rhythm, and what not. If anything I just think it would be cool if some established artists covered some of my songs. I would find that really cool.
Noah: Have you ever pretended to be insulted when when someone hasn’t heard one of your songs?
Matt: I don’t think so
Noah: cuz it seems like, you know, when someone’s like, “oh I don’t know that one,” you are the one person who could never be upset that someone had missed something.
Matt: (laughing) You know, I’m pretty much ecstatic any time anyone’s talking about my music but I definitely don’t hold it against them for not having found it. It’s definitely not being promoted at all.
Noah: So what’s in the works now? What’s coming up?
Matt: So those guys that I told you about, our latest band is called The Big Heist, and a month ago we had a show at Tufts University which was unbelievable. They were moshing to our music at this frat house. It was a very unexpected performance. But while they were here we recorded the framework of a new album which is coming out next week it’s called ‘Tightrope’ by The Big Heist and it’s the best album of the 2020’s. And, in addition to that, I am getting… I’m getting back to work and putting out more novelty songs and albums about cities and towns in Maryland and a new Toilet Bowl Cleaners album… more name poop songs. I’m just going to be churning them out.
Noah: How do you pick what towns to sing about?
Matt: Well, I went on Twitter and asked people what state I should do and… you know Dan Deacon?
Matt: He suggested Maryland, and I said “when Dan Deacon speaks, The Guy Who sings about Cities and Towns listens.” So, that’s how I got Maryland, and then I just go to Wikipedia and work the population from the most populated until I’ve gone down to 50 songs and then that’s it.
Noah: What’s the smallest town you’ve done?
Matt: I don’t know, specifically, but probably below a thousand.
Noah: You target markets so specifically and so intentionally, are there any other conceptual ideas you haven’t done with this yet that you’re thinking about?
Matt: No, not really. I’m happy that I have a lot of cities and towns left, because it doesn’t exhaust me creatively to do those albums. I can have, like, a movie playing in front of me and I’ll just pause it when it’s time to sing the vocals and then I’ll turn it back on and, um, it’s better than just sitting down on the couch and watching a movie.
Noah: Wow, well I think that’s all I have, except I got to tell everybody if you’re interested in Matt Farley he has an entire Wiki, and I don’t mean an entry on Wikipedia, I mean an entire Wiki for Motern Media, that will give you all the information you could possibly want and probably more. How much of that was your doing versus fans’?
Matt: I had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Matt: I’m so proud, I don’t even know… I know a few people who added to it. I don’t know who did the bulk of it. It’s a mystery.
Noah: Wow. ‘Cuz it’s a thing of beauty.
Matt: Whoever did it put a lot of time into it. I’m super grateful.
Noah: That was such a help for me, being able to research this. So, what song should we close with? I am thinking, if it’s okay with you, that we would close the same way we’re going to close every episode, which is the song about the guest, written by Matt Farley. So, here we would probably pick the positive one, not the one about how you’re a hack or how you’re a thief, but how you’re a great songwriter man.
Matt: That’s fine by me, I approve.
Noah: Perfect, all right. So, Matt Farley, our house band, Motern Media, is going to be closing every episode with an original song about our guest, and since it is our first episode, and he is our guest, here is a Matt Farley song about Matt Farley and Motern Media. We will see you next week.