Petaluma-native Matt Reischling has been around. He attended UCLA, lived on a boat in Oakland for a year and has made his home in a hodge-podge of places such as Italy and San Diego, where he began his first band, The Marinators.
“I wrote a lot of bizarre topical songs about inhalers, sea lions and basketball,” Reischling says.
For a decade, he called Los Angeles home, recording and playing music under the moniker Confessions of a Corn Silo, though he says “the L.A. intensity” began to creep into his psyche, and he moved back to the North Bay five years ago.
“I needed to get out of there (L.A.), and the best place to do it was to come back to where I first lived,” he says. “But I wanted to try to reinvent myself after all these experiences, and in the past three years I’ve found my voice again.”
That new musical voice shines through on Spirit Holiday, the debut album from Reischling’s new solo project, Matt Reischling & the Black Box.
Available now online, the 12-track LP is a melodic and lyrically reflective collection of original tunes (and one David Bowie cover) that looks back on Reischling’s adventures and imagines new ones.
“The album is essentially, among many different things, a reintroduction of my music, which I’ve been writing for 20 years,” Reischling says. “Some people ask me, ‘Is it weird to come back to where you grew up?’ And I say, ‘No, I’ve had 20 years of living away.’ This place has changed, I’ve changed and it was all kind of meant to be.”
Reischling credits that feeling of fortuitousness upon his return to the North Bay with the group of musicians he fell in with, including guitarist Lincoln Barr and drummer Anthony Vaccaro.
Both appear on Spirit Holiday, as do bassist Daniel Spree, cellist Linda Amari and percussionists Juan ‘Tato’ Pacheco and David Gray.
Musically, Spirit Holiday is a mix of alternative-rock, indie-rock, folk and pop tunes that call to mind artists like Neil Young, Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. Lyrically, the record is a vulnerable exposé on Reischling’s changing emotional headspace.
For example, opening track, “Willingly,” begins with Reischling singing, “Well, I lost myself recently / I let go of myself willingly.”
“That’s how I felt at the time playing the song, as that’s how I felt coming back here,” Reischling says of the song’s lyrics. Through the course of the album, Reischling’s mindset changes as he writes about developing a positive outlook in the album’s title track.
“The last two or three years, I’ve been getting back into good health,” Reischling says. “I went to Mexico, Cuba, Chiapas, various places in search of healing and inspiration. I wrote that song about going somewhere to seek something out, even if you don’t know what it is.”
Other tracks on Spirit Holiday reference a wide range of topics, from grocery store flirtations, to the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, to a child ghost; proving that Reischling still has that penchant for the bizarre in his songwriting.
Now that Spirit Holiday is available on streaming sites such as Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music, Reischling is looking forward to the next iteration of Matt Reischling & the Black Box, including planned publishing projects and other creative avenues.
“I’m grateful anytime I can play anywhere,” Reischling says. “The band thing was happening for a couple years. That is on hiatus, so I’ve refashioned the Black Box to be a solo thing with different players. I’m always going to be vacillating between playing solo, which I feel like I do well, and with a group of people who want to play with me at the time. I’m open to everything.”
‘Spirit Holiday’ is available online wherever you stream music and available to purchase as a digital album on Mattreischling.bandcamp.com.