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Matt Maltese on ‘Driving Just To Drive’: ‘I’ve gone deeper than I ever thought I would’

The Reading singer on the genesis of his fourth record.

By Nick Reilly

Matt Maltese press shot, 2023
Maltese has collaborated with Jamie T and Joy Crookes. (Photo: Reed Schick)

Matt Maltese has opened up on the genesis of his latest album Driving Just To Drive, explaining how the record sees the singer offering a powerful snapshot of his own here and now.

The Reading based singer returned last week with his fourth record, which sees the lounge-pop leaning singer broadening his sonic palette even more.

There are upbeat melodies, constant flashes of piano funk and even cameos from the likes of Biig Piig. All this, and Maltese’s vivid turn of phrase which remains as sharp as ever.

One highlight, the lovestruck ‘Florence’, sees him croon: “And I know heaven’s here tonight I know heaven’s here tonight, I know.”

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, Maltese explained how the sound reflected the development of his own career to date. While his debut came in 2018’s Bad Contestant, Maltese says his latest sees him going “deeper than I thought I ever would go”.

“I wrote about things I hadn’t written before,” he explained. “This record tackles a number of topics i hadn’t talked about and naturally I just sound a bit older, I guess.”

In contrast, he explained that his debut reflects a period of self-discovery in his early twenties.

“I mean, we’re all just a bit fucking crazy in our early twenties and I think that I just have that documented quite publicly,” he said.

“I think it was all just me trying to find me and even now, I know things will be completely different in ten years time.”

What underpins it all, however, is a self-professed love of recording. But where previous records were largely led by Maltese’s vision, he says the input of producer Josh Scarborough helped the record become his most collaborative to date.

“I love making albums in small spaces and that’s definitely continued with this record. It was a really hot summer last year and I spent the whole of it in a box making this record. But it was great working with Josh, who would come up with ideas on how to shape it. Ever since the second album I’ve just had a really big hand in how everything is going to sound and feel, so it was probably the most collaborative experience I’ve had since I was a teenager.”

But ultimately, not overthinking things remains his trump card.

“I have not achieved inner peace and the skill to be in the moment all the time,” he explains.

“But I do think that most of my joy comes from things that I can do without having too big an idea of the outcome. The things I’ve had the best experience with are the ones when I wasn’t thinking about the outcome too much. That’s definitely the case with this record.”