By Alix Bruch
CALGARY – “It is kind of a weird new time in the music industry, and I’m just trying to take advantage of the ease of putting stuff out,” says Matt Mays regarding his latest record, Twice Upon a Hell of a Time.
Where some artists might record a song and later strip it down, Mays likes to work the other way around: adding punchy bass lines and sizzling guitar riffs only after the song can stand on its own.
In essence, the acoustic interpretation of his previous record, Once Upon a Hell of a Time (2017), is actually a return to the beginning.
“I wrote a lot of these songs in the actual format that is on the second version. I always try to make sure the songs hold up on ukulele or guitar before I add stuff to them. I knew these ones would hold up because I already had versions of them in their bare bones state, so I just thought it would be kind of fun to release them in that way,” Mays reveals.
“It was really fun to change the keys and the time signatures and just the style of the songs. You can hear the song a little better and also if people like the album, it’s just another way to hear it again in a different way or mood.”
Answering the call of his wandering soul, Mays has chosen a life on the road. At first glance, the Nova Scotia native is a badass guitar slinging rock ‘n’ roller, but listen and look a little closer and you will see so much more.
Twice Upon a Hell of a Time brings another side of Mays into relief. The stripped-down record lends clarity and depth to his already nuanced lyrics, revealing a deep thinker who seeks honesty in his craft, and in life.
“I chose this life of being a touring a musician and trying to dance with the muse all the time,” explains Mays. “It tends to lead you into a different sort of lifestyle, but I’m also from a really domesticated home and I love that vibe too. So I’m kind of caught in the middle of it all. I enjoy it though and it gives me a lot to think and write about.”
One highlight of Mays’ travels includes playing a sold out show at the famed Massey Hall in Toronto last summer before it closed for extensive renovations. Describing it as the most magical night of his life, Mays feels a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude to have graced the same stage as many of his heroes before him.
The music created in such a space seems to echo across generations, emitting a quality of timelessness. Mays believes the best songs are those that are rooted in honesty, and he is confident his songs will be heard and held by the right people.
“There are all these rock and roll [radio] stations that are playing the same 50 songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s that we all know, but we didn’t choose to know them. Nowadays, people are choosing what music they want to listen to, so songs are going to be timeless, but not for everybody. Everybody is going to have their own timeless songs that are different from everyone else’s. Which is really cool in a different way.”Matt Mays