Jubilee favourite Matt Mays will be returning to the mainstage, headlining Saturday night. He will be bringing new music with him, from the yet to be released (due this fall) album Once Upon a Hell of a Time, and will be sharing the bill with his collaborator on the project, Wintersleep drummer (and Stellarton’s own) Loel Campbell.
So far, four tracks have been made available for public consumption, including the thick and fuzzy “Faint of Heart”. The two recorded the album in a number of North American cities, rather than one central location and one studio. Mays said what kept the project sounding consistent was Campbell’s involvement, and the two’s shared mindset.
“I think what really kind of helped was working with the same person,” Mays said. “(Loel) and I did most of the record, so wherever he and I were we just kind of stuck to the plan, or dynamic. It didn’t really matter where we were. Musically we sort of developed this sound, he and I, and we could take that wherever. It was coming out of what we had together, rather than say, a certain set of microphones or a room or studio.”
Mays said the two have been collaborating whenever they can, given how much each has put into the new album. It’s not unlikely then that given both Mays and Wintersleep are playing the Saturday night show that some sort of cross pollination may occur. Their friendship, however, goes back a ways.
“I think Loel and I have had a similar relationship with music. We both started out falling in love with just playing, and also geeking out studio-wise, and also he and I both started touring at the same time and we were both in the same city. We’ve sort of been playing together ever since.”
Mays is definitely an artist who loves being on stage, but he is equally happy with being in the studio, although he does appreciate the studio/road cycle his life provides.
“I like them both equally. It’s really good for me because I get bored easily. As soon as I’m done with the recording process and I’m super sick of it and haven’t been on the road in a long time I get to go and play the songs and turn on the other half of my life and go touring. And as soon as I’m sick of that and my body is shutting down it’s time to get in the studio again.”
Solo since 2002 when the Guthries dissolved, it’s fair to say that there is a “Matt Mays” sound. It may be hard to put your finger on it, but when a newer track like ‘Faint of Heart’ comes on, even before the vocal kicks in you can anticipate it being the same guy as something like ‘Cocaine Cowgirl’ or ‘Take It on Faith’. They’re not the same, but there’s some sort of genetic fibre in common.
“I guess you’d say I’m sort of searching for a certain sound,” Mays said, “but the sound is always changing in my head. Like anybody, when they grow older they have different sensibilities and different insight and that sort of thing. I think that’s why an album I do ten years from now is going to be different from what I’m doing now, I think that’s just part of the fun.”
As for what he listens to, Mays said he takes in a lot of reggae and rap, both genres he’s very unlikely to do or accidentally copy. Being so far removed from this music he can listen as a fan and with a sense of wonder, rather than as a seasoned studio artist diagnosing how certain things were created.
Mays is playing a fairly selective schedule this summer and he said that coming back to and playing Jubilee is his ideal summer gig.
“Outside of Halifax there’s not really a lot of places in Nova Scotia that have an annual banger,” Mays said. “Jubilee, it’s always just a super high quality gig. Everybody’s having a great time, the crowd is really big. It’s just such a great location, it’s become a real classic summer event. I love playing at home in the summer, I don’t like being anywhere else. Geographically, I don’t like being out of Nova Scotia in the summer. So getting to have such a reputable gig going on annually, how could I not play it?”
Matt Mays, and Wintersleep will be taking the main stage Saturday evening, with the newly expanded four-piece Town Heroes opening.