The Golden Age is a bluegrass duo consisting of Matt Menefee and Bryan Simpson, perhaps best known for their work with Cadillac Sky, a progressive bluegrass band of which they’re both founding members.
The pair has a knack for making music that pushes the boundaries of genre while remaining rooted in the tradition, resulting in a refreshing sound that transcends time and place.
Earlier this year, in February, they burst unto the scene with their debut full-length, “I’m Sure It’ll Be Fine“. The album perfectly defines the sound of The Golden Age – traditional but with an experimental edge.
Now the duo is back at it again with the release of the music video for their latest single, “Favorite Button”.
Click here to stream their latest single “Favorite Button” on Spotify
Want to know more about The Golden Age? We’ve caught up with Matt and Bryan to find out more about their music, inspirations and what the future might hold in store for them.
Would you care to introduce yourselves to our readers?
Bryan: Well I used to be Bryan; now I’m one half of The Golden Age. We used to be other things Matt and I collectively, but nothing springs hope eternal like a new endeavor.
Matt: Hi! I’m Matt, TheBanjoPlayer.
How did you get into bluegrass?
Matt: I grew up listening to my grandpa play rhythm guitar and sing with different local bluegrass groups he played with. However it all started with my love for video games and the music therein. So I spent a lot of time playing and recording myself playing through games so I could listen to the music. The amount of time I spent doing that kinda freaked my folks out, so my uncle volunteered his banjo up that was gathering dust in the closet and they sent me on the path of the banjo. I immediately started jamming along with my grandpa, and bobs your uncle! My grandpa was very gracious. Ha!
Bryan: The grandpa did it.
How would you describe your music?
Bryan: Well on IG @thegoldenagegram, we have it as “Luke Skywalker meets Bill Monroe; intergalactic struggle meets bluegrass music. A child is born.” a little overwrought. A little too Star Wars-y certainly. But yeah like Matt said bluegrass…maybe bluegrass-adjacent (props to Tony Trischka for term)
What’s been the main source of inspiration for your songwriting?
Matt: I’m more of the instrumental guy. For banjo I would definitely say Scruggs, Scott Vestal and Bela Fleck. But my main source of inspiration is anything and everything I can get my hands on. Which is a lot these days. From Bach to Gonzalo Rubalcaba to Squarepusher to Meshuggah to Lil’ Wayne.
Bryan: I grew up playing with a Texas guy named Tom Uhr who had written some Ricky Skaggs tunes back in the day. That was a big deal to know someone that wrote real songs. Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott..and of course the Hartford/Webb/Dylan etc.
Your debut full-length, “I’m Sure It’ll Be Fine”, was released earlier this year, in February. Since then things have changed a lot, thanks to COVID19. How has the pandemic impacted your life as musicians?
Matt: Watching your calendar unravel to the very last date is pretty unsettling to be sure! In my head I started preparing for a time of rest, rediscovery and regrouping, but thanks to some amazing bands, artists, and writers I’ve had a pretty solid work load in my studio. It’s kept me busy through all of it and I’m really thankful. And it’s still allowed me to work on some passion projects as well.
Bryan: Made me be still. That’s a big deal.
You have released a new single, “Favorite Button”, with accompanying music video directed by Joshua Britt and Neilson Hubbard. Could you tell us a little bit about the message behind the song and how the music video reflects that message?
Matt: Don’t Push It!!! The Button.
Bryan: Well said Matt. Lyric makes me think of how I love messing with my wife. Sometimes roadside flowers. Sometimes playfully frustrating her is pretty fun. Just seeing all her colors. Pushing her buttons. The video runs along the lines of curiosity is a leaky barrel.
What does the future hold for The Golden Age? Do you have plans for a new album or other musical endeavours?
Matt: We had a second album almost completed by the time we got out of the studio making the first one. If that makes any sense. We’ve talked about releasing it a bit earlier but it seems to keep telling us it’s not finished quite yet. So we’re currently working on getting back in the studio to wrap it up and release it into the world. I’ve had several endeavors that I’ll return to or continue working on, I know Bryan does as well. I think that’s part of being a musician that lives in Nashville. It’s inspiring to be around so many people that are pushing themselves to be a better musician, artist, songwriter. It continues to inspire and motivate or just plain kick your ass. I feel like I have, literally, 9 different irons in the fire at any given point. It can get brutal. I have a new project that I’m about to release my first single on. Just a solo project. I also do bluegrass video game arrangements. So I’m pretty stoked about those.
When music venues start to open up again, hopefully in the near future, can we expect to see you perform in Canada?
Matt: Love Canada! Yes we would hope so!