Labor of Love: Matt Mays

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In our series LABOR OF LOVE, we're talking about the LABOR OF LOVE that is music and is behind music and musical instrument making. Nova Scotia is where it started but Matt Mays has spent the better part of two decades on the road perfecting his growling blend of indie rock n' roll. He's got a new acoustic LP, Twice Upon a Hell of a Time.... that hits the streets Oct. 19th. We had Matt in to record his tune Drive On and do the obligatory Q&A about what keeps Matt writing tunes and on the road! 

How did making music become your life? How did you get your start?
I just started to play every open mic in my hometown Halifax for years to get my chops up. It’s a great little tipsy college town so there were always lots of great bars to play. That led me to joining “alt country” band The Guthries where I soon discovered my love for the wonderful yet perilous road.

In these times it’s an incredible challenge getting by making music, everyone at CME has found a happy home here to support our passion for music. How do you make it work? What are your hustles/gigs? How does it all come together?
I worked 5 jobs to fund my first album (surf shop skid, record store clerk, movie theatre popcorn guy, and lawn mower) then over a few years of touring I was able to gradually quit one job at a time with the slow increase of a fan base in Canada. I scored some luck with radio and just did a shit ton of touring through snow storms to build enough of a foundation to put some food on the table.

Who were your major influences? What guides your playing style?
My old man’s record collection was an awesome start... Lightfoot, Neil, Hendrix, JJ Cale... then I got really into Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet and all that other distortion pop. My playing style I think is pretty ham-fisted. For me the journey into better playing is closing the gap between my mind and my hands. I’m just always trying to switch my fingers and soul into low latency mode.

What's your rig? First guitar? Current? Pedals you can't live without?
My first guitar was a fire engine red ‘93 Yamaha RGX. My Main squeeze now is a Gretsch G7593 White falcon, it’s a pretty magical ol’ bird. Amp-wise I run a 65’ Blackface Deluxe Reverb (modded at some point to have 6L6’s) together with an AC30. I liked them both so much and couldn’t decide which to bring on tour so I just brought them both out and run them together all the time. A wonderful thing happens when they get boost smashed. As far as pedals go, I really like the new little EHX Russian Big Muff. It sounds pretty damn close to the original. Also the Diamond Memory Lane and Union MORE pedals are deadly.

What does the band have coming up? Albums? Tours?
We are still on tour, heading back to Canada for some dates in October but hoping to get back to the USA asap. Twice Upon a Hell of a Time… the acoustic version of Once Upon a Hell of a Time… is out Oct 19th, 2018. 

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