MATT Gresham played one of his first shows at Mojos Bar when he was 13 years old.
That was 14 years ago.
The Rockingham-raised singer songwriter eventually became a regular performer at the Fremantle venue and Scarborough’s Indi Bar for “six or seven years” until he moved to Sydney six months ago.
This month he returns to the west coast to play four intimate shows as part of a national tour in support of his new single, Ghost.
“Perth is the best; it’s my favourite, that’s why I’m doing so many shows,” he said.
“We were supposed to do one (show) but it was my input to say no, we need to do a few.
“I feel like Fremantle and Scarborough and Leederville, they’re such different vibes.
“Scarborough’s got the real surf community, a lot of backpackers.
“Freo, for me, is the arts capital of WA; John Butler came out of there, Eskimo Joe, it’s got the real art side.
“Then Leederville is a bit similar to Freo too.”
Since moving east, Gresham has been no stranger to coming home, with a string of sold-out shows in February.
“It’s just such a great feeling,” he said.
“If you have a normal job, you go to work every day and you work with other people and they say ‘good job’ and that kind of thing and it’s quite rewarding.
“I feel like I sit at home all day and I work on music and it’s like ‘is this really working?’ and then I do a live show and it sells out; people are responding.
“It gives you that feeling that I am doing something right.”
Gresham said going from playing regular gigs to touring had been a transition.
“I would do a lot of freestyling stuff and a lot of cover songs, but now I’m only really playing shows if there’s a new song going well on the radio, then we’ll tour,” he said.
“So now it’s more structured. We rehearse for that tour and all the shows are pretty similar.
“We try to mix it up depending where we are song-wise, but before it was more of a jam format.
“On the east coast I’ll be touring with a band and on the west coast we’ll be keeping it solo.
“I’ve tried the band thing before in WA but because people have such a connection to what I did when I was young – a one-man band kind of show – we’re trying to keep it real for the WA sector.
“Even for the set list, I’ve thrown in a lot of my old stuff I used to do and some of the cover songs.
“I really just try to keep the WA sector of the tour really organic and really home-grown.”
Gresham admits though he has only been a Sydneysider for six months, he has done a lot of growing.
“Because I performed so much in WA for so many years, I got in my comfort zone and all the anxiety about performing all went away and it was almost too comfortable,” he said.
“But when I came over here, and when I started playing in America and London and I’m playing all around the world, I’m terrified but in a good way; in a humbling way.
“Now when I do shows over here, I really rehearse and I really get ready do the show and get mentally prepared.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time in my comfort zone in isolated Perth and now it’s time to travel a bit more and get a bit uncomfortable.
“I feel like that’s where the good stuff comes out; you take yourself out of your comfort zone and grow as a person.”
But Gresham is still a West Australian.
“I miss Perth; I love it. That’s why I’m coming back for four shows; that’s the real reason,” he said.
“The single is just the Jedi mind trick I’m using as a reason to come back.
“I like when I get back to WA because everyone in the audience is a friend of a friend or my mum’s friend or family.”Fans can expect an EP to be released at the end of the year.THE ESSENTIALS
July 29 – Babushka, Leederville
July 30 – Indi Bar, Scarborough
July 31 – Mojos Bar, Fremantle
August 6 – Roebuck Bay Hotel, Broome