Hit show's "Mr. Schue" wants to lure fans with a self-titled disc.
Watch Glee? You know Mr. Schue. He’s the teacher at the helm of McKinley High’s crew of slushee-faced misfits: the guy with the curly hair, the one who occasionally raps, and who every once and awhile gets to make out with guest-stars like Gwyneth Paltrow.
You also probably remember he’s played by Matthew Morrison -- a guy you probably know a little less about. But the 32-year-old Broadway vet aims to change that with the release of his self-titled debut (out Tuesday, May 10). There is, after all, a difference between the real-life Morrison and that guy on TV who sounds like he “swallowed a pair of jazz hands.” (Sue Sylvester’s words, not ours.)
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do, for awhile,” Morrison says of the new album, speaking on the phone from L.A. “Glee gave me the chance and the exposure to do it right, I think. To do it in a way I felt comfortable with, and to do it my way, as Frank Sinatra might say.”
His way wasn’t necessarily easy, though. Starting the project a year and a half ago, during the three-month hiatus between his hit show’s first and second seasons, Morrison says he was determined to compile a collection of original songs.
The performer had logged time in a boy band (LMNT; he bailed before the release of their 2002 debut); he’d sung on Broadway since dropping out of NYU, starring in Hairspray and Footloose; he scored a Tony nomination for The Light in the Piazza. Songwriting, however, was something he’d only “dabbled” in, he says -- noodling around on his guitar or recording demos with friends.
“I don’t think I was one [a songwriter], to be honest,” Morrison says of where he was before starting work on the record. But surrounding himself with collaborators including Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus) and duo Espionage (Train's "Hey, Soul Sister"), Morrison says he “worked every day, I wrote every day with some great songwriters for those three months,” continuing the process on weekends while Glee was in production.
“Coming from Glee, I thought it was important to write my own music because if I didn’t it would just be another Glee CD,” he says. “And I wanted to give people some insight into who I was, and I wanted to tell some of my stories. As an actor you’re always kind of hiding behind a character or a show and this is a chance to show who I am as a person.”
Musically, Matthew Morrison the album comes across as a little eclectic, while always giving the impression of being decidedly easy listening, more so, even, than a Glee comp. “Still Got Tonight” is a melodramatic ballad that has the signature of its co-writer, former American Idol Kris Allen, all over it. (Morrison also recently announced he’ll be singing that track, in character as Mr. Schue, on an upcoming episode of Glee.) “Don’t Stop Dancing” is a mid-album dance break reminiscent of the ‘90s boy-band era; “Hey” offers a breezy pop tune in the vein of Train, that swings with a little ukulele accompaniment -- an instrument that’s been associated with Morrison since he broke it out in an episode of Glee to perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” (Incidentally, a version of that classic song also appears on the record, this time as a duet with recurring Glee guest star Gwyneth Paltrow.)
The inclusion of that track -- a song that Morrison reportedly played during his Glee auditions -- would seem to be a clear nod to the performer’s work on the show. Not so, he insists.
“I really wanted to stay away from that,” says Morrison of referencing his work on Glee throughout the disc. “But I mean, at the same time, I don’t think I’d be able to do this without the show,” he says. “Singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ that was -- it is -- one of my favourite songs ever written, that’s why I wanted to do it.”
One ballad, though, finds Morrison addressing Glee, albeit indirectly. “My Name” finds the singer expressing how his life has been affected by the rush of fame that came with the show’s success. “It’s a really exposing song about what I’m going through right now,” he explains.
“They're screaming at me, and I just want to scream right back/ They wouldn't believe it, no he'd never do a thing like that/ It's taken all I've got not to crack,” Morrison sings on the song’s second verse, an orchestral pop number you could imagine Robbie Williams tackling during his Rat Pack-tribute period.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s -- it’s tough doing the same thing day and day out,” Morrison says of the song with a light chuckle. “It’s a weird thing. People think it’s all glitz and glamour, but it takes a toll on you. Just you know, I leave my house and there’s paparazzi outside of my house. There’s no sense of privacy anymore.”
Still, Morrison says he’s hardly interested in retreating. A North American tour is scheduled for this summer (he plays Toronto June 25), and promises to feature a blend of music from his album and Glee. “As proud as I am of this album, and looking forward to the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that, I can’t wait to keep going and keep this process going.”Source