Matt Sweeney Spills About Working With Neil Diamond

> May 13 2008

Matt Sweeney Spills About Working With Neil Diamond
By Brock ThiessenChavez front-man Matt Sweeney is no stranger to moonlighting. In his time, he’s joined head Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan in the "super group” Zwan. He’s formed the duo Superwolf with bearded folkster Will Oldham. And he’s even spent some time with lo-fi pop kings Guided by Voices. However, as strange some of these collaborations may seem, none is as full-on weird as his latest.

Believe it or not, Sweeney has played a major role on Home Before Dark, the new album by Neil Diamond. Yes, Neil Diamond. Apparently, Sweeney was brought onto the project by producer Rick Rubin, who commissioned him to play guitar throughout Diamond’s 29th studio album.

In a recent interview with Billboard, Sweeney shared his thoughts on Diamond and the whole experience. "I've been a fan of Neil Diamond since before I could talk; my mom still always plays his music,” Sweeney said. "In high school my friends and I would freak out to [Diamond's famed 1973 live album] Hot August Night — my friend Lee Hetfield could lip-sync the entire album. I am a giant fan.”

"Here's the mindblower: Neil Diamond is so funny, low key and open. He sees every song as a chance to, in his words, ‘make a great record.’ He'd encourage all of us to come up with cool parts and feed us delicious food….He simultaneously maintains a mystique and gives himself completely over to the song. He totally exposes himself to such a degree that he becomes almost invisible.”

When asked whether he would be playing live with Diamond, like he recently did at New York’s Bitter End nightclub, Sweeney said he had no plans but would "play with him in a heartbeat.”

At the moment, Diamond is currently on course to top the Billboard album charts with Home Before Dark, a feat the 120-million seller has never accomplished in his 50-plus years of making music.

Neil Diamond "Pretty Amazing Grace” on American Idol
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