Matt Mays

Location: Dartmouth, NS

Matt Mays

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As it turns out, those rumors that rock is dead have been somewhat exaggerated. From the first shimmering guitar chords that blast out of the speakers, opening the self-titled album from Halifax-based quartet Matt Mays & El Torpedo, it's readily apparent that this is one young band that has no interest in emo whining or pop/punk mascara application. Nope, what we have here is an unadulterated rock'n'roll band-a unit with indelible songs, crushing firepower, hearts on sleeves and a fierce desire to communicate.

A lesser singer would be overwhelmed by El Torpedo's withering firepower, but Mays has the voice and the soulfulness to unleash a remarkable range of emotive expression, from howling bitterness to moments of heart-wrenching vulnerability amid his band's thunder and lightning. This is a voice that demands to be heard. Not only that, but Mays has something to say-something authentic and immediate.

Mays along with Andy Patil (bass, vox), Tim Jim Baker (drums), and Jay Smith (guitar, vox) have pulled off that rarest of moves in today's watered-down musical landscape, masterfully transforming the bedrock sounds of rock's golden age into personal testimony about life in the present tense-the very same impulse that drove the great bands of rock's glory days. Call them a throwback if you like, but there's no denying that this band is living in the here and now.

Mays has been playing in bands since junior high, but his first professional experience came when he worked in the Guthries as one of four songwriting co-frontmen. After one album, he began to find the group's alt country predilections limiting. "I wanted to do music that was more straight-up," he says. He made his first solo album six years ago at 21, though it wasn't released until 2003. The self-titled effort, on which he played most of the instruments, revealed a young artist with a highly developed sensibility, and it was received as such, as the album received a Juno nomination for Adult Alternative Album of the year, while Mays picked up another for New Artist of the Year. Even then, however, Mays didn't simply see himself as a singer/songwriter. Instead, he envisioned following in the footsteps of Young and Petty, alternating solo projects with band efforts.

After assembling the first incarnation of El Torpedo, Mays was soon having the time of his life with his new cohorts, blazing away on club stages across Canada, as the songs took on a new dimension, and there was no doubt that people were more responsive to his material in this cranked-up, filled-out context. It was then that an inspired Mays started the creative process that would result in Matt Mays & El Torpedo, cranking out a batch of scintillating songs and then tracking down Don Smith, the first name on his producer wish list, who was sufficiently enthused by the demos and the band's rawboned sound to fly up to Halifax and work with the band to capture the live show in the studio.

Having conquered their homeland, Matt Mays & El Torpedo's next mission is to bring their vital brand of rock'n'roll across the border to rock-starved American ears. "I know there's a groove down there for us somewhere," he says. "It could be mainstream, it could be underground, I don't know. But it's one of those things where I'm sick of wondering. I just want to come down to the States full-on. I know that we're a strong enough band to hold our own and find a fan base; I'm not intimidated about that at all. We've worked hard, and now we feel we're ready. Onstage we have this sixth sense of each other, so we don't have to think-we just play. And as long as we play our asses off, we'll find our own scene, even if it's tiny, as long as we have honest people come to the shows and we're honest with them, that's all we really want out of this."

I cant even find the words to describe his genuine gorgeous songcraft and the bands killer live performance. - Performing Songwriter
...one of Canadas most exciting live rock acts. - Maclean's
You havent lived until you see this band live... - Toronto Sun
One dazzling set and youre a convert, that's how it works.- NOW







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