After spending five years as a member of the United States Army, Woodbury resident and musician Mathew Griswold, 26, made his triumphant return to the stage on Dec. 29 at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis.
Griswold's performance is a pre-release party for his newest album release, Lets Do It, which will be officially released on Jan. 20.
"Every time I get up I really strive to make that personal connection and I hope they can use an experience that I've been through, or any insight that I have gained," he said. "It's just like any other relationship, you learn from one another and strive for a better future."
Griswold has been a musician for the last 11 years, and it all came about simply because it was something to do in his free time.
"That goes back a long ways," he said. "It was just a lot of boredom probably as a teenager and it was probably just something to do."
Griswold describes his sound as "acoustic rock" or "folk rock," taking inspirations from such artists as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springstein and the Dave Mathews Band.
"When I started listening to them, I really wanted to start writing," he said. "Pretty much just anybody who has enough guts to get up and sing something they wrote."
Griswold said he continued to work on his music during his five years in Nashville, Europe, and Iraq.
"I played a lot for the troops and that's what really got me into wanting to pursue it professionally," he said. "It's a really unique experience because you're connecting on a level you'll never connect with anyone else, but at the same time, you're still just one of them."
Griswold said a lot of the lyrics on Lets Do It come from the many experiences he has during his five years in Nashville, Europe and ultimately Iraq.
"I have a 20 minute story for every song I wrote," he said. "Obviously while I was in the military, a lot of the inspiration came from war and military experiences."
Writing acted as some what of a form of therapy for Griswold, being able to get his emotions and feelings out of his mind and onto paper.
"It's tough feeling that way anyway so you might as well explode it on paper," he said. "When you perform something like that you feel like there's a reason for everything."
In addition to sharing his experiences through song, Griswold said he always likes to share his experiences during his performances as well.
"One of the things I do with all of my shows is try to show my support for other fellow troops," he said. "I like to use my shows to raise awareness about some of the effects of war that may get overlooked by a lot of people. I think really making that kind of personal connection really draws people out."
Getting up on stage always causes some nerves in Griswold, but that's only because of his goal to make the performance the best it can be.
"I don't think it would be right if you weren't nervous during a performance because that means you're not telling the truth," he said. "I always hope to give the best show possible and hopefully at the end of it they'll walk away with something they didn't have prior to it."
In the future, Griswold does have some future goals for himself, such as getting signed to a record label and maybe even getting a number one single, but Griswold said he has already been so blessed in his career, he doesn't want to take anything for granted.
"I would love to take it to that next level, but I've already had a lot of great things happen, and I almost don't want to jinx them by saying I want a whole bunch more to happen," he said.