Govey/Matthew’s ‘JUSTICE’: A Theatrical Rock-Ballad for the Ages”
Every so often, a track emerges that defies the conventions of its time, resonating deeply with listeners and evoking a sense of nostalgia. Today, we delve into the world of Govey/Matthew, a duo that has managed to capture the essence of a bygone era of rock music, reminding us of the days when an album was an experience, not just a collection of tracks. Their song, ‘JUSTICE‘, is a heartfelt tribute, a journey, and a testament to the power of storytelling through music.
Paul Govey and David Matthew, the old school friends behind this evocative track, have a shared passion for rock legends like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones. These iconic bands helped shape their theatrical, rock-ballad style, characterised by musical storytelling, but it’s not just their influences that make their music stand out. It’s the raw emotion, the personal experiences, and the stories they weave into their track, JUSTICE.
A track that was rediscovered during the solitude of the Covid lockdown, it holds a poignant significance, especially for David, serving as a touching tribute to his late father.
But beyond its personal resonance, the song has struck a chord with listeners worldwide. We caught up with David Matthew, the inspiration behind ‘JUSTICE’, and the his thoughts on the contemporary music scene. His candid reflections on the songwriting process, the challenges of self-producing, and their aspirations for the future offer a refreshing perspective in an industry that often prioritises commercial appeal over authenticity.
So, if you’re yearning for a musical experience that transports you, evokes deep emotions, and reminds you of the golden days of rock, you’re in for a treat.
Listen to JUSTICE from Govey/Matthew on Spotify
Hi David, thanks for taking the time to chat with IAMUR! Let’s kick things off with the classic ‘what’s your name, and where do you come from?’ Can you share the story of how you began your journey as Govey/Matthew?
Paul Govey and I attended Stamford school in Lincolnshire together. Whilst there we formed a band called: ‘Hotel 12’ – a pop/rock band. When we left school the band disbanded; however, Paul and I continued to write and record together. We grew up listening to Rock, and we were influenced at the time by bands such as: Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc. There was a time when listening to Rock music meant putting on your headphones in your bedroom, and listening to an album from start to finish, totally immersing yourself in the story of the music from beginning to end and creating an emotional experience.
Those were the days weren’t they? Coming home with a new cassette or CD, thumbing through the inlay whilst listening to new songs for the first time! I miss that! Whilst thumbing through your Spotify profile, I noted that there’s a ‘JUSTICE’ (remastered 2022) and also a ‘JUSTICE XXIII’ released in March 2023. What’s the story behind releasing the same track twice, and what are the notable differences between these two versions?
Many years ago when we used to write together we only had a four-track cassette recorder. Over the years the cassette tapes of our songs built up, and were put in my attic for safe-keeping, as we then started using more modern digital technology. In 2020 during the Covid virus lockdown I has rummaging through my attic and I found our old box of cassette tapes that I hadn’t seen or listened to for many years. Sadly during lockdown, my 86-year old father passed away and I wasn’t able to even say goodbye to him due to the then imposed restrictions on travel. I played the original demo tape of JUSTICE and I remembered that it was his favourite track of ours – he was a MASSIVE Pink Floyd fan and the track reminded him of that style of music. I later played the tape demo to Paul (Govey) and he said…“we must record this properly in honour of your father”. We knew that the track sounded retro and certainly not commercial or contemporary, and at six minutes long certainly not radio-friendly. But that wasn’t the point, we recorded it in 2022 as it was originally written, in honour of my late father and to capture the particular period of time. We uploaded it onto the music sites just for fun, and to our complete surprise the response was simply overwhelming. Earlier this year we decided to improve the balance of the track and take out the soundscape at the beginning; hence JUSTICE XXIII(23).
That’s such a touching tribute to your father, and sincere condolences for your loss. You hinted at the fact that JUSTICE is, by todays standards, ‘quite long’ and defies the norms of today’s radio-friendly lengths. Can you share more about the inspiration behind creating such an expansive track?
There was a time when music was written to be listened to properly, not just a single three minutes track but a whole album in its entirety. Some of the greatest tracks of all time exceed three minutes; Bohemian Rhapsody, Stairway to Heaven, Free Bird, to name just three. JUSTICE is a theatrical drama in three parts, it’s designed to take the listener on a roller-coaster of emotions and tell a story. Songs just aren’t written like this any more – which, in my opinion, is a shame.
I couldn’t agree more with that… I’ll add to your list a couple of my personal favourites that are more akin to a 24-course dining experience than a salad starter: ‘Porcelina of the Vast Oceans’ (Smashing Pumpkins), ‘Black’ (Pearl Jam), ‘Paranoid Android’ (Radiohead), ‘Kitchenware & Candybars’ (STP). Back to ‘JUSTICE’… which has all the traits of a rock ballad; emotive lyrics, slower tempos, and powerful crescendos. Such characteristics often stem from deep personal experiences and raw emotions. Can you share more about the writing process behind it and how you channeled such intense feelings into the narrative and melody of the song?
JUSTICE was written many years ago after a personal break-up of mine, and the then passing of my mother. I was at the time personally in a bad place, and I felt trapped in my own ‘prison’ not understanding why after so much love, I felt as if I was being unfairly and emotionally punished. One evening I wrote down some lyrics to reflect how I was feeling. They aren’t the best lyrics that I’ve ever written but they are probably the most honest.
The track was written as a theatrical drama, as it felt at the time that I was personally living in a true-life drama. The first part of the song is slow, and the prisoner in our story is on his own in his cell, questioning why he is being punished for only showing love – it all seems so unjust. He is obviously feeling sorry for himself, sad and reflective. As the song builds, so does his anger, and his loneliness has now turned to rage (similar to a lot of people’s feelings at the end of a relationship or the passing of a loved one). Is he going mad? Or is he just venting his personal frustrations? The ending of the track is him coming back down to earth and he has calmed down. In his mind he is visited by the girl who left him (like an angel), it’s his way of saying goodbye to her and all that he is left with is a memory. The girl is singing too because she is also saying goodbye to him. The artwork of the track depicts the girl walking away from the prison and finally leaving him behind – alone.
Listening to the song, it’s clear that the track holds deep personal significance, and the emotions you’ve described are universally relatable. Beyond these intimate experiences, where do you draw your main inspirations from, both in your music and life?
I have a theatrical background, and spent many years working in professional theatre and TV. I have always been drawn to story-telling, and creating emotional experiences. There are obviously influences of bands like Pink Floyd in our music, as it was the type of music that we grew up listening to. We’ve also been compared at times to Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode – but to be honest I think that’s over flattering us!! We are amateurs, just writing and recording ourselves the type of music that we like. If there is a music pro out there listening to the track that would like to produce us professionally then, great… bring it on!!
Theatre and TV? It’s no wonder ‘JUSTICE’ has such a theatrical feel! Speaking of influences, the guitar solos in ‘JUSTICE’ are killer! Reminiscent of Pink Floyd, especially David Gilmour’s style. It’s masterfully done! Who’s wielding the axe?
Yes, the track was very much written in a Pink Floyd style. We called in the services of a good friend of ours – Paul Millsopp, to do the lead guitar parts on the track. Our brief to him was sound as ‘David Gilmour’ as you can – I think he nailed it, and in our opinion is a genius guitarist.
Kudos, Mr Millsopp!! I’m also intrigued by the orchestral strings and choirs in this track. While not uncommon in rock music, their integration into ‘JUSTICE’ adds a rich layer to the overall composition. Can you share the creative process behind deciding to include these elements in the track? Additionally, were there any particular challenges or considerations in ensuring they complemented rather than overpowered the rock elements of the song?
The track is a theatrical piece, a story, a drama about a main character in a prison cell (in his head), coming to terms with his loss. We wanted a girl’s voice in the track because we wanted the listener to hear his girlfriend also saying goodbye. The choirs are the angels watching over him. Like any good Jim Steinman track (Meatloaf), it had to be over-the-top!!
“It’s not commercial, it’s not contemporary and it’s certainly not radio-friendly!”– David Matthew
Building on the theatrical essence you’ve described, with its portrayal of personal heartbreak and emotional crescendos, JUSTICE is reminiscent of a bygone era where music deeply resonated with listeners. In your opinion, does today’s contemporary music fall short in capturing the depth and authenticity that defined classic songwriting?
In a word YES!! I just remember as a teenager listening to music that was so well crafted that it took me to a different place. I think the restrictions now imposed on radio mean that there are generations missing out on the variety of music that we used to listen to. Don’t get me wrong it’s not just all about Rock music, it’s about all genres of music. There are some days when I put on a Clash album or a Smiths album – all genre’s of music can have an emotional impact. There is of course still new ‘good’ music out there regardless of genre; however, I think it’s rarer to find than it used to be.
The two versions of ‘JUSTICE’ have collectively amassed over 40,000 streams on Spotify, and over 11k plays on Youtube which is an impressive feat. Given this notable reception, how have your audience responded to the track? What feedback or reactions have stood out to you the most since its release?
As of today on just Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud alone we have accumulated 80k+ plays. We have no idea of numbers on the other music sites, as to my knowledge you can’t easily acquire them. The feedback online has simply blown us away, and we really weren’t expecting the track to generate the amount of interest that it’s had. It’s not commercial, it’s not contemporary and it’s certainly not radio-friendly! The interest in the track is continually growing daily, as people are sharing it with their friends all around the world. We don’t have a plugger, a label or a commercial radio station promoting the track, it’s simply acquired the number of plays it’s had to date through word of mouth. We would love it if indeed it had some professional backing!!
“Now that I have explained the story of the track, please put on your headphones, lay back and play as loud as you dare!!!”– David Matthew
Those are impressive stats, David! Considering the impressive traction ‘JUSTICE’ has gained and the organic growth it’s experienced through word of mouth, it’s evident that this track is a significant milestone in your musical journey. As this song serves as an introduction for many to your work, how do you plan to leverage this momentum? Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for broadening your musical horizons and making a more profound impact?
We write and record our music just for fun – it’s an added bonus for us if other people like it and play it. As previously mentioned, this particular track holds a special place in our hearts for all the reasons that I have explained. We did it all ourselves; the writing, the recording, the producing and the financing. If there is a pro out there that would like to promote us, then who knows what the future could hold! Thank you to everyone who has taken six minutes of their lives to listen to the track, it means the world to us… and my Dad would have been SO proud of what we have already achieved to date. Now that I have explained the story of the track, please put on your headphones, lay back and play as loud as you dare!!! If you like it, then please share it with your friends. Big love and thank you for this opportunity to tell our story.
Paul Govey – music writer, acoustic/guitar, bass
David Matthew – lyrics, lead vocals
Paul Millsopp – lead guitar, producer and arrangement
Paul Chapman – drums
Sarah Millsopp – backing vocals
Recorded at Hammer Studios, Wigan
Well, there you have it, folks! If you’ve ever wondered what passion sounds like, crank up ‘JUSTICE’ and let it take you on a journey. David, wishing you all the success in the world, and fingers crossed that someone out there recognises and supports your undeniable talent. To our readers, share the love, spread the word and get in touch with the IAMUR team for coverage, reviews and interviews here.