The usually hyper Matt Johnson is in a somber mood. It's Sept. 11, and Johnson is remembering how after his dorm windows at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn shook from an explosion, he and his fellow classmates scrambled to the roof to see what had happened.
It was at Pratt that Johnson met Kim Schifino. They've been together ever since. As the indie-rock act Matt and Kim, they'll play the Fillmore Miami Beach this Sunday night. The two are often compared to the White Stripes, but the comparison ends at the number of people in the band. Instead of melodramatic and moody, they are so joyous it's hard not to break into a happy Snoopy dance while listening to their brand of pop-punk.
Since starting at Pratt in 2004, Matt and Kim have contributed music to the soundtracks of "Community" and "Chuck" and to Mars Bars and Bacardi commercials. Their latest album, "Lightning," was released on Oct. 2.
Johnson spoke by phone from Brooklyn.
Why the first names for your band?
We couldn't think of a name. We were struggling. We were listed as our own names, as Matt and Kim, and we didn't consider that to be our band name. Awhile down the line, while we still could not think of anything, we're like, "I think that worked." In the end, I feel, as a band, that's very much like us as people, in a way, as the music. I feel like being on a first-name basis with the audience is a good thing.
Are you guys like the music — happy and spunky?
I guess we're more upbeat than downer. Like everybody, we have our exhausted days. But inherently, Kim smiles a lot, as much as she does on that stage.
How did you and Kim first get together?
Essentially, getting together romantically, was her laying the moves on me. There's an intimidation factor I found. She was a little bit older than me, and I never dated anyone older than me before, and she had tattoos and stuff. I was only 20 when we met. … She's always been really fun to hang out with, and one of the guys.
How do you create together then?
We work well together, but we don't work well together with anybody else. We are very specific about what we want. … I think it's a fault of ours, as well, is that we don't take direction that well. We're kind of resistant and want to do it our own way. ... I take care of most of the technical aspects of it … but we're both very involved in the song- and lyrics-writing.
How do you remain happy together?
It's a mystery. You know, I'm not a scientist, but it might involve the realm of magic. … For any two people who spend as much time as me and Kim do, there should have been terrible bloody murder death a long time ago. … We have our ups and downs like any normal two people. Kim got really frustrated at me, because I was trying to fix the oven, and she was trying to make something the other day. … She had to walk away. The funny thing is that stood out to me, because how little that happens. I think it's because we've always been such friends, and two people who were always on the same page, and that's why we did music in the first place.