April 4, 2008

Before They Were Blogged: M. Ward demo tape

Before M. Ward embarked on his own glowing solo career making mind-bogglingly terrific albums, and before he met Zooey Deschanel and started recording some (She & Him) music and playing festivals with her, Matt was part of a band called Rodriguez in the mid ’90s with a strong college circuit following.

During one such university show around 1997, a kind future Fuel/Friends reader happened to pick up a modest cassette tape of solo material that Ward was experimenting with. Two years later, a similar (or maybe the same) collection of songs would end up in the hands of Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), who became fond of this Portland troubadour’s warm, stark folk sounds and released his first album Duet For Guitars #2 on his own Ow Om label.

Third in a mini-series of “Before They Were Blogged,” it has taken me over a year to realize exactly how buried and forgotten these tunes are. Since my reader actually converted them from that original cassette tape he still has, I’m fairly sure this is an unheard sonic collection — one that M. Ward’s fans will enjoy listening to as much as I have. Unfortunately I don’t have much more information to go on other than what my reader tells me, but all the things I love about M. Ward are certainly here in all their humble, honey-drenched, warm, raspy vibrancy.

If The Devil Came And Promised Me Joy
Don’t Crack
Made of Glass
Tom Violence
(Sonic Youth cover)
Must Be Waiting
No, You Can Never Make It New Again
Bye Bye Love
(re-working of the Everly Brothers hit)
I’m Going Higher



  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! Early M. Ward, what a great present on this last day of the work week! You’re the best.

    Eric — April 4, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  • can you repost the fiest monarch album?

    Anonymous — April 4, 2008 @ 10:13 am

  • Can’t wait to listen to this. I actually got into his music due to your mentioning him on your site. Thank you.

    Sally Jo — April 4, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  • I really needed this today. You have a knack for timing with your posts. Keep it up.

    Glucose Digital — April 4, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  • Heather,
    What a wonderful post. I remember when Howe Gelb posted Duet for Guitars #2, and my latter surprise at the quality leap when M. Ward put out his first ‘real’ album with the help of the some of the Gelb/Calexico crew.

    This demo sounds so much more polished than the ‘Duet’ demos published by OW OM.


    Yon — April 4, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  • ….thank you.

    Peace. – Caleb

    Caleb — April 4, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

  • wow, what a great find…thanks! in regards to your post below…nada surf have become one of my favorite bands to see live. they’re amazing.

    Amy — April 4, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  • Wow!

    I was about to shut off the computer and go to bed, but said to myself “I’ll just take a quick look at Fuel/Friends first…”

    Now I suspect I’ll be up all night…and I can’t thank you enough.

    LBDG — April 5, 2008 @ 1:03 am

  • Very nice. I actually own this cassette. I was part of the small but faithful Rodriguez/Matt Ward fan base in San Luis Obispo. (I’m glad someone posted it on here because I don’t have the technology to make my cassettes digital.)

    O there are other Ward demos out there, too…. some great stuff. A few of them are in boxes somewhere in my house…

    We all knew this he was going somewhere with his music. Great guy. Ridiculous talent.

    Gary Wells — April 9, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  • I know there was no malicious intent in posting these demos, but anybody who knows M will tell you that he is very standoffish about the circulation of his earlier recordings. You might want to e-mail him via management to gain proper approval. Again, I understand that you’re fans, but I’ve talked to him a few a few times about his music and he seems appropriately sensitive about his demo material. Sorry if this rubs anyone the wrong way…

    Anonymous — April 14, 2008 @ 9:28 pm

  • thanks Anon for the comment. I did try at one point to contact him via his label (I believe) and never heard anything back. I figured if they didn’t want it out there, I’d hear about it.

    heather — April 14, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

  • Wow, these are exquisite! Thanks so much for sharing them.

    Rosemary — April 21, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  • Very cool! I too was a fan in the old San Luis days…Funny, I have a Little Wings demo too..Thank you!

    Jeremy & Sarah Davenport — May 24, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

  • anyway you could repost this m.ward and the fiest monarch album?

    Jeremiah — October 15, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

  • could you repost this audio? not workin’ for me…maybe i missed out?!

    Aaron — October 22, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  • hi do you think you can repost the zip file? thanks!

    Anonymous — December 2, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

  • I too have a copy of this cassette. Had an opportunity to ask him about it one time when I met him in Dallas, but was so excited that I never mentioned it. Ugh…

    Jay — June 6, 2018 @ 2:18 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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