Striking Matches Talks ABC’s “Nashville,” New Music, Their Musical Background and More — A CMM Interview

The talented singer/songwriter duo Striking Matches have a unique sound that is all their own.  Sarah Zimmerman and Justin Davis are both skilled musicians and gifted songwriters who are taking Music City by storm. Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio and Hayden Panettiere have recorded their songs for ABC’s hit show “Nashville” and they are currently working on their own album. Recently we had the chance to catch up with the duo to find out how they started working together, if more of their songs will be featured on “Nashville” and who they would love to co-write with. Take a look below and get to know more about Striking Matches!

CMM:

Where are you both from? How did you meet and how long have you been making music together?

Striking Matches:

I guess it all started about five years ago when we met, but we’ve been a band for around 3 years.

Justin:  Sarah is from outside of Philadelphia and I’m from just north of Atlanta.  We met at Belmont University in Nashville where we both were attending as guitar majors. It was the first week of school and we were both in our “guitar seminar” class, which is basically where ALL the guitar majors (freshmen through seniors) get together and nerd out on guitar stuff. At the time no one really knew each other. Sarah and I both had just moved to town and so we knew literally NO one. The deal was that in order to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class, instead of going around and saying, “my name is…” we had to pair up with one of the other freshmen (a complete stranger) and improvise something on the spot in front of the upperclassmen. Sarah was the only girl in the class at the time and I remember no one in the room full of boys wanting to be paired up with “the girl.” Sure enough though, I was paired up with Sarah and I asked her, “do you know any blues?” Of course never having heard her play before I wasn’t aware that she’d been playing blues basically her whole life. So she pulled out her slide and made pretty much everyone’s jaw drop, including mine. We ended up getting a gracious applause out of the class and the teacher. It was really apparent that there was just “something” there when we played together.

CMM:

I am sure you get this ALL THE TIME, but I have to ask…I love the name of your duo…how did you come up with that?

Striking Matches:

Justin: Thanks! It was a lot of trial and error at first…a lot of staying up late running through ideas, band names are hard! I was trying to be WAY too clever at first. I was thinking along the lines of “pair,” “double,” or “match”…which was all TERRIBLE, but from that I had said “Striking Matches” which both of us thought wasn’t too bad. From prior experience with band names we’ve agreed that it’s usually the name that you don’t COMPLETELY hate that you grow to love. So as we tried it on for size it really started to suit us more and more until the name became as much a part of our identity as our sound is.

CMM:

Who are some of your early influences? Do you feel like any of your musical influences come through in your music?

Striking Matches:

Sarah: Growing up I listened to a lot of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Chicago, Steely Dan, John Mayer, all kinds of different stuff.  When I started getting into country music, I fell in love with the Dixie Chicks album “Fly,” which turned me on to all sorts of different country music.  I’m also a huge Patsy Cline fan, she’s my favorite!  I think our music definitely reflects our influences. It’s fun because we have so many different influences from different genres that we like to play around with them all. One day we’ll write a country-rock tune, the next a folksy singer/songwriter type duet, and maybe the next day a country swing song.  We’re always trying to break out of the box a little bit, so tapping into some of those influences really helps.

Justin: I was into country music from the start; my folks listened to it. My influences always tended to be guitar players such as Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Vince Gill and more, but from that I got into classic rock like Sarah mentioned CCR, Eagles, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Country always had my heart and soul though. The songwriting and subject matters of country music always hit home and reached me the most.

CMM:

Do you always do your songwriting together? What is that process like?

Sarah:  Honestly every song is different. Sometimes one of us will have a lyrical idea, and the other will come up with a musical idea to go with it, or the other way around. Sometimes we’ll be in a room with a third person and come up with something out of thin air that day.  Everything we’ve written has been at least the two of us, but sometimes with one other person.

Justin: We love writing with other people, but something different always happens when we write as just the two of us. We tend to be able to go different places because we can write a song based around a jam that we might’ve played one time in a show when we were just “riffing” off each other.

CMM:

Last season on “Nashville” you had some of your music featured. Will we hear more music written by you on this new season of “Nashville?”

Striking Matches:

Sarah: We just had our third song on the show on the premiere, called “This Love Ain’t Big Enough.” It was co-written with Jill Andrews, a really great singer and songwriter in Nashville. We hope that there will be some more music featured this season but we can’t say anything just yet!

CMM:

I love the new single “Trouble is As Trouble Does” Such a great sound! Tell me a little bit about the song, the idea behind it and the reaction you are getting from fans so far?

Striking Matches:

We feel like “Trouble is as Trouble Does” is a great introductory song. It’s like a “Hi, we’re Striking Matches and this is what we do” song (she says laughing)!  It’s a really fun song to play live and hopefully some of the energy that comes from playing it live was transferred into the recording.

CMM:

The EP was fantastic (especially “Hangin’ On A Lie”). Do you have a new album in the works?

Striking Matches:

We are working on that RIGHT NOW and we’re incredibly excited for it! We hope to have news about it coming out by early next year and we certainly hope to go well above and beyond anything we’ve put out so far.

CMM:

What has been a career moment that you both have had so far where you just could not believe what was happening?

Striking Matches:

Sarah: Hands down, playing on the Grand Ole Opry.  We like to call it the “dream come true that keeps coming true.” It seriously is one of the most incredible honors a country music artist can have, and we just feel so lucky and blessed every time we get to play.   We’ve played it 17 times now since December, and every time still feels like the first!

CMM:

Who would be a dream co-write for you guys?

Striking Matches:

Justin: That’s a really difficult question…so many… So we’ll give three (he sayings laughing) Paul McCartney, Vince Gill, or maybe Don Williams…ok or maybe Rodney Crowell (sorry that’s 4).

CMM:

Who would you love to have sing on your next album with you?

Striking Matches:

We’d both love to have our pal Ashley Monroe sing with us some killer three-part harmony song! We’re such big fans of hers, hopefully down the line we’ll get to do something together!!

Be sure to visit www.strikingmatches.com for more on the duo! Their single “Trouble is as Trouble Does” is available on iTunes NOW so check it out!

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Get social with Striking Matches:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/strikingmatches

Twitter: https://twitter.com/strikingmatches

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/strikingmatches

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