On the Verge: Matt Nathanson (VIA USATODAY.com)

On the Verge: Matt Nathanson – USATODAY.com.

Matt Nathanson plays at The Beacham, Friday, Feb 17th.

On the Verge: Matt Nathanson

Slow and steady wins the race: Despite the title of his hit single, Faster, rocker Matt Nathanson’s rise has been more of a slow burn. The track, which went to No. 5 on USA TODAY’s adult-alternative airplay chart, has sold a half-million downloads. New album Modern Love, his eighth, made its debut at No. 17 on Billboard‘s album chart. “I definitely took the stairs approach with my music career,” the singer/songwriter says. “There were times that I wish I could have hit fast-forward, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.” Of course, he’d have been happy to hop the line. “I’m no fool — if a label would’ve offered me $3 million to promote my record, I wouldn’t have turned them down,” he jokes.

  • Matt Nathanson is a singer/songwriter who is releasing his ninth album, 'Modern Love.'

    By Miriam Santos

    Matt Nathanson is a singer/songwriter who is releasing his ninth album, ‘Modern Love.’

By Miriam Santos

Matt Nathanson is a singer/songwriter who is releasing his ninth album, ‘Modern Love.’

Hopping coasts: Though his music has the easy, surf-ready sounds of California, Nathanson is a New England native. “I grew up in Massachusetts, went to high school in New Hampshire, so by the time I graduated, I wanted to live somewhere warmer,” the 38-year-old says. “I started out setting up conference rooms for a pharmaceutical company and playing music on the weekends.” He worked his way up, slowly building his fan base over 15 years. “I started out in my car, then moved on to a minivan, then a bus with a crew.”

His one true love: For Nathanson, music is the one. “Being a musician is the only thing I’ve ever committed to, much to the chagrin of every woman I’ve ever dated,” he says. “It all started when I saw Kiss in the ’70s, watching them spit fire. I thought, ‘Now, that’s what I want to do.'” He also had the support of loving parents. “My mom always encouraged me,” he says. “It’s not like a Footloose kind of childhood where I wanted to dance, but no one would let me. I was able to let loose with music.”

From hair to there: Nathanson credits a smorgasbord of influences. “Growing up, I was heavy into hair metal. I then discovered U2, which was the gateway drug for Lou Reed and Bob Dylan,” he says. “I’m a music nerd — right now, I’m listening to Bon Iver, Raphael Saadiq, the new Def Leppard. I have an endless need to be inspired by music.” He shares his musical education with fans. “Every morning, I try to listen to a new album and post it to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and ask readers to listen and share their thoughts,” he says. “It’s important to me that people listen to the full album, I want to get away from the superficial hell of surfing just songs.”

Thanks to Def Lep: If it weren’t for his diverse taste in music, Nathanson might not have written relatable songs like Faster. “It all goes back to Def Leppard: If it wasn’t for them, I’d be geeking out, making some artsy music, pouring my deep, dark secrets into sound and silence, rather than writing what I do today.”

Next up: He’ll hit the road with Maroon 5 and Train on Aug. 27 and kick off his headlining tour Sept. 25 in New Orleans. He’ll also play Monday on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.