Jul. 01, 2009 - Issue #715: The Bestest of Edmonton 2009
El Torpedoed: Matt Mays keeps the ship afloat
What came as a surprise to some earlier this summer was actually a much
needed change for Matt Mays. In early June, when the Halifax
singer-songwriter announced that he and his acclaimed backing cohort, El
Torpedo, were disbanding, questions arose as to what Mays upcoming tour would
hold. Would it be a one-man acoustic show? With a different band? A new name?
And what brought about the sudden shift?
"A few different things," says Mays, explaining that a couple members of El Torpedo were moving on in their personal lives, trying to support kids and wanting to go back to school. "We were bumping heads a little bit—it was time. I wasn't happy. I think I was just craving a change and I didn't really know it. It's one of those things that was bubbling under the surface and when you finally realize it, you feel a lot better."
With the departures of bassist Andy Patil and guitarist Tim Baker, Mays had to do some quick rearranging. Though El Torpedo's Adam Baldwin and Jay Smith stayed on the roster, Mays decided it was time to drop the old moniker and start fresh. To accompany him on this summer's cross-country tour Mays called on some pals from back in the day, from before he became a household name in Can-rock. It was announced at the same time as the disbanding that bassist Serge Sampson and guitarist/pedal steel whiz Dale Murray would enter Mays' fold.
"The guys on tour now are really great players and good old friends. I've got two of my old buds from the Guthries playing, and our drummer Damien (Moynihan) is insane. He's just amazing and blowing me away," Mays explains. "I'm having a really good time, it's all so fresh and new. The essence is the same, we're just having fun and playing and with some different people now. I'm going by my own name, playing whatever kind of music and doing this or that."
For a guy who's turning 30 this year, it might seem like he's hit "The
Crisis" a little early. But Mays assures that he's in a good place, a better
one now than he has been of late.
"I spent a lot of time in New York City last year, and in California for a bit —I was doing a lot of travelling and thinking," he says. "I'm feeling more creative than I ever have. I don't even know where I'm going next, all I know is that I'm feeling content.
"That's the main thing: the main thing is keeping the main thing," he chuckles. "That's contentment for me right now. I've wrung my 20s clean of everything. I feel great. I'm in a great relationship right now, I've met some really great old friends. I've had a great last 10 years. I like the lines on my face, you know, because most of them are from laughter or sunburn. I'm embracing it fully."
And for a man who's just getting used to the idea of stepping out from behind his guitar, he's taking new habits in stride. "My guitar amp broke for the first show we did, and I ended up singing the whole time. It was this sweaty tavern show, and I had a great time," Mays says. "It's really different, now I'm playing some songs in the set now without my guitar, and I'm comfortable enough to do that. Life is funny, you know. Yeah, I feel a bit naked—but that's kind of hot, isn't it? I felt really liberated." V
Sat, Jul 4 (9 pm)
With Dustin Bentall
Starlite Room, $21
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