It’s never easy to learn you’re not invincible.
For Matt Johnson, the lesson came hard and fast when his bandmate Kim Schifino tore her ACL last March while performing at Mexico’s Vaiven Festival.
“It was within the first minute of the first show of the year,” Johnson recalls. “So now it’s been over a year that we’ve taken off.”
Matt and Kim are not a band accustomed to downtime. Since their formation in 2004, Johnson says they’ve never taken longer than a few months off, usually in the winter. Now the Brooklyn duo famous for their gleefully chaotic live shows and upbeat electronic anthems are readying themselves for a return to the stage and the release of their sixth album.
Almost Everyday is the result of the unexpected gap year Matt and Kim faced as Schifino recovered from her injury. Lyrically, it reflects a realization Johnson says he and Schifino came to after getting a glimpse of a life lived elsewhere than on the road.
“It was like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life,” he offers. “We got this view of what our life would be like without the band. We were hitting up friends who we had flaked on for over a decade and we started noticing that all of our friends were growing up and having families. It was a big realization for us.”
Matt and Kim’s new record reflects this newfound awareness with lyrics that speak to living in the moment and holding on to what you have. On “Like I Used to Be,” Johnson sings of simpler times, when all he needed was $50 a week and “a gas tank that leaked.” Yet the song ultimately dismisses nostalgia as wasted time, as the chorus rides in on a wave of booming drums and celestial keyboards to triumphantly declare, “But I’m not dead yet!”
Those who enjoy tracing the connective tissue that binds albums together need look no further than Almost Everyday’s opening track, “Intro.” If the pensive, building keyboard riff sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same music that played in the background of the YouTube videos Matt and Kim made informing their fans of Schifino’s injury.
“There’s something about how that music came together and that’s part of what made us open the album with it,” Johnson says. “I want listeners to know from the second they put it on that it’s something different than what our past five albums have been.”
Almost Everyday also includes an impressive cadre of guest stars, from blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus to Oakland’s own SWMRS. According to Johnson, the latter collaboration came out of a policy he and Schifino devised to simply let bands they like know that they dug their music.
“Kim sent them a direct message on Twitter just to say she loved what they were doing,” he says. “We’re big fans of SWMRS — especially their energy. It reminds me so much of where I came from in music. At our live shows, we always have a lot of people singing along to the songs and we kept thinking we should get a bunch of voices on the new record because that’s a lot more of what it’s like at the shows. Then we thought it would be cool if those voices were our friends, and that’s sort of how it all came together.”
It’s hard to overstate the live component of what Matt and Kim do. They’re the act at a music festival that draws you in with their relentless energy and makes you forget you were on your way to another set. Schifino can often be found standing atop her drum set, while Johnson serves as the manic conductor of a no-holds-barred dance party.
In preparation for their upcoming tour to support Almost Everyday, the duo have played a few warm-up gigs — their first shows since that fateful night in Mexico.
“I was scared going into those shows,” Johnson admits. “I was sweating. It felt like I was coming out of retirement.”
It’s not hard to see why Johnson was sweating — at a Matt and Kim show, that’s all but guaranteed. When the two aren’t performing their own high-octane brand of pop electronica, samples from other acts frequently weave their way into the setlist, be it the old-school cool of Salt-N-Pepa or guaranteed crowd pleasers like DMX’s “Party Up.” During their year away from the limelight, Johnson says Schifino stayed on brand by listening to a healthy diet of T.I.
“I think I was in a little more of an introspective space,” he says. “I got sort of obsessed with that Rostam and Hamilton Leithauser album [I Had a Dream That You Were Mine]. If you know Kim and her personality, you know she was still listening to bangers. For Kim, she can never be weak. Even if something makes her cry, she’s like holding her head back going, ‘Tears — go back into my face!’ ”
Matt and Kim, Tuesday, April 3, 8 p.m., the Warfield, 982 Market St. $30-$40; 415-345-0900 or thewarfieldtheatre.com