A decade ago, before Friend Roulette had formed, its future members were all friends with a singer from Houston named Matt Sheffer. Matt had the most beautiful, powerful voice. Though he wasn't much for alcohol, he could still go to karaoke bars to hustle for free drinks anytime he felt like it. Even more impressive than his voice was his compositional brilliance. He would spend days at a time crashing on his own couch (he had a bedroom, but seldom used it), recording songs on Garageband using his laptop's built-in microphone, leaving the apartment only to buy more Diet Coke & Ritz crackers. Every so often, he’d ask someone if they’d like to hear what he was working on. Without fail, he'd present an utter masterpiece, that despite its crude recording, was a radio-ready instant-classic.
Sadly, Matt was his own greatest adversary and harshest critic. Shortly after bringing these incredible songs to life, he would inevitably doubt whether they were any good at all. He disavowed entire albums of material, removing them from his Myspace page, only to start the process all over again. Eventually, Matt gave up his fraught musical pursuits in Brooklyn for the slower pace of Austin, TX. After a long period of inactivity, Matt finally returned to the world of left-field pop over the last few years, trickling psychedelic epics into the ether with his eccentric and uniquely-Sheffer sextet, Zettajoule.
In 2016, Friend Roulette decided that they had a responsibility to record some of Matt's old songs as an act of preservation. After rearranging the material for their unique instrumentation and adding some ensemble elements of their own, they yielded The Matt Sheffer Songbook, Vol. 1, a loving tribute to a talented friend and a strange body of music that without, the band would not likely exist. Though they did not compose the song's skeletons themselves, the album feels like a Friend Roulette origin story, like their self-titled debut seven years late. It's through this deep-rooted musical kinship and ESP-level chemistry that they've created something greater than Matt could've in his crippling bouts of self-doubt, yet also greater than they could've without his clear vision as their guiding light. A decade ago, Matt Sheffer had already mastered an uncompromising and ever-adventurous all-in pop sound, that same sound that Friend Roulette has chased for its existence, and one that still sounds shockingly modern today.
The Matt Sheffer Songbook, Vol. 1 hits the world via Pretty Purgatory on June 16th.