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February 2024
Vol. 23, No. 5

Featured Stories

Romance and Roots: Talking with the Wellsprings

by Lauren Leigh MartinDecember 2023

“When I was growing up my dream was to be with a woman who was also an artist.” —Alex Bergan

Alex Bergan & Megan Mattix.

Alex Bergan and Megan Mattix of the Wellsprings met me for coffee and an interview recently at Hillcrest’s Mostra Coffee. I’ve grown seriously fond of these two folks since performing on a bill with them at Humphrey’s Backstage Live a year ago. They weren’t the Wellsprings then. They were just performing as Alex Bergan. Alex achieved success this past year with an SDMA nomination for his acoustic album My Notebook. Their connection as a team resonated then, as much as it does in this coffee shop a year later. Successful musical couples are rare in this city. Rare in general, I should say. In a constantly changing scene, it’s refreshing to see a couple with hope for the future, the drive to do what it takes, and the talent to back it up. “Don’t sleep with your bandmates” might be good advice, but I think we can all agree it is the most ignored. However risky, amazing music comes from vulnerable and personal collaborations. The Wellsprings are no exception. 

How long have you been involved in music and in what capacity?
MM: Forever, I guess. I grew up in the church singing and in all the Christmas programs. In high school, I got into theater and that gave me a little more confidence, went to college for theater as well and then I took a turn. I was passionate about it but I realized singing other people’s songs could only go so far, so now I’m interested in seeing how far we can go with something that feels more like me.

AB: For me, when I was six I discovered my late grandfather’s old guitar that had just two strings on it. You’d need a tetanus shot, damn near if you picked it up. My other grandfather had a player piano and I’d watch the scrolls. But the guitar was a big turn on for me. I would play around with it and pull it out of the closet and mess around with a few notes that made sense to me. When I was 8 my parents got me my first guitar. It was just an obsession right away. I had my first gig at 13 at a church, I wrote my first song at 15 and have been gigging ever since.

When did you first meet?
Alex Bergan: May 27, 2021. I love telling this story.

Megan Mattix: We met on Fiesta Island at a secret show during the pandemic, and I saw Alex’s band BXWD [pronounced “boxwood”] play while I was there supporting another theater friend’s band.

AB: I was a front man, so I put the guitar down and was trying to do the front man thing in a rock band. Megan still makes fun of me for that to this day.

MM: When I first saw him my friends and I were making fun of him because he looked way too cool for school. He was in his rock ‘n’ roll phase. The little-too-long t-shirt, the tight pants, the ankle boots and camera walking around taking photos, and a hat on. He just looked too cool for me. I wouldn’t normally have the courage to go for someone like him. We were having a good time and I was a little toasted, so I approached him a little later in the evening. I don’t know how it went from making fun of him to walking up to him. I had a little liquid courage.

AB: She tricked me into following her band’s Instagram page. That night, after I met Megan, I told this other situation I was in that I wasn’t interested anymore because I knew. All I could do was talk about how I met this girl tonight. My friends were telling me to send her a message. So, I sent her a message, trying to be chill and cool, like “Hey, do you wanna meet up or whatever?” A few days later we had our first date at a coffee shop in South Park and went record shopping.

And the rest is history?
AB: Not really. I know that I come with a lot. I have a child. I was in the military. I was dealing with some severe health issues at the time. There was a lot that came with me. I had been in the navy for eight years. I come from a broken home in Iowa.

At the Whistle Stop. Photo by Julia Hall McMahon.

MM: I didn’t know that he came with all that. What happened? How does this work? These were things I steered away from. Things that I never thought I would want. But he was getting out of the military, and the situation with his son was resolved and healthy. Okay, I’ll give him a chance. I started seeing these things as positives. He’s a dad so that means he is loyal and caring and committed. What kind of father he is might be indicative to what kind of partner he could be. I had always gone for different types of men; maybe I was doing something wrong. I had never been with someone who was so headfirst. I was used to guys who would drag me along and make me wait forever. He was headfirst right away.

AB: I saw everything in her that I wanted. Right away I knew. Done. It took several months but eventually we became official. On May 13, 2022, I asked her to marry me and on May 16, 2022, we got married; shortly after that we wrote our first song together, called “Finish Line.”

(On August 10th 2023, they had another wedding in front of friends and family, which I attended.)

It can be risky to be in a musical collaboration with your significant other. When did you guys decide to take that leap?
AB: When we were first dating, I had said to Megan, “You’re really good, you’re a phenomenal singer but you’re singing other people’s songs. So, let’s start a group together. She was like “We are not married and that’s a huge commitment to be in a male/female duo as a couple.” And then we got married and it’s like that conversation never happened and we just went for it.

We did a show at Humphrey’s and did a small acoustic set and met producer Fernando Perdomo who was also on the show. We recorded five songs in LA at his studio after that. We were the Wellsprings from then on.

How did you guys come up with the Wellsprings?
AB: There are a few different meanings for it.

MM: We both grew up religious even if we aren’t religious now, but it does have religious connotations and it is the foundation of what we do.

AB: The literal definition is “the source of continuous flow.” So, I look at it as a source of continuous love, continuous inspiration, continuous motivation. It’s a symbol that nothing is going to stop. I sent her the definition. I had heard a lyric with “wellspring” in it. And that was it.

How would you describe your sound and respective contributions to the project?

AB: One song that’s about to come out [“Stick Around” feat. Lauren Leigh, out everywhere November 24] really defines our sound. I was listening to Brothers Osborne all day. I had this pop country thing in my head for a while. I came to Megan with the guitar part, and we had both had a few edibles so we were feeling relaxed and had no distractions. We each had our own notebooks in front of us. I said let’s each write our own set of lyrics and melody. Megan does hers first, melody and lyrics already written. That’s the final melody that’s in the song now. It’s phenomenal. The only solo contribution I had was writing the chorus. Everything else came from her. We figured out Megan is melodic and knows how to deliver a story.

This is the first song where you’re not singing at all, Alex.
AB: The world has already heard me. I’m stoked that everyone gets to hear the voice of this girl, showcased in a way that will get her the attention she deserves.

What is the best thing about working together?
MM: I feel like being married is the biggest advantage. The band’s never going to break up. We are always gonna work through this. We are always gonna figure this out.

AB: There’s such a level of understanding I’ve never seen in another person. So many other people are ready to give up so easily. I won’t sugar coat it. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve gone through a lot. I think the number one word here is resilience. I think with that, anything can happen, and we welcome challenges because we are gonna come out on the other side of it more in love. The songs will be better.

How do you feel about the San Diego music scene?
AB: The one thing that stands out immediately is the level of support. It doesn’t matter how successful anyone has been or how new they are. Everyone is there for you. People are always quick to collaborate and want to do shows with you. The LA scene burns me out; it’s competitive and people are out for themselves. My two favorite music scenes I’ve ever been a part of was the music scene in Tokyo and the San Diego music scene. People just have a love for the music.

MM: There is a community here. Alex has introduced me to this whole other world outside of theater and everyone is so supportive. It’s not as competitive as the theater world can be on the professional level. You get to go to each other’s shows all the time. You share musicians. Everyone’s down to help each other out when you need someone.

How do you measure success in this industry?
AB: We don’t care to be rich or famous or whatever the hell. We want to show my son that if you work hard enough you can do the things that you want to do and make a living doing it. Maybe it’s not going to be great all the time, but I’d rather be struggling doing what I want to do than be so successful and feel like a prisoner. Music is about freedom. It’s about liberation. Put yourself in front of the risk. It’ll pay off.

The Wellsprings released their latest single on November 24th, “Stick Around” (with Lauren Leigh) You can catch them at Seven Grand on December 15 with Sutton James and on December 20th for the Wednesday Night Ramble at the Casbah. 

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