Matt Mays Rides A New Wave

Matt Mays Rides A New Wave
With their gorgeous 2001 debut album Off Windmill, it seemed a sure bet that the Guthries would emerge as strong contenders to carry the CanRock torch. And while the Halifax roots collective has persevered, it has been without their chief front-man Matt Mays, whose self-titled solo album is already proving the restrictions he had sharing the songwriting spotlight.

"Leaving the Guthries was a mutually amicable decision," Mays says. "We were all really young and I think we were a little surprised at how much attention we got from that album. I had so many songs that the band couldn't use that it just made sense after a while that I'd go do my own thing."

He went on to assemble a new backing band, El Torpedo, and on his self-titled solo debut, the 24-year-old displays a sense of craftsmanship and emotion on par with classic Neil Young, Tom Petty and Gram Parsons.

"I've always been a huge Gram fan, so I don't mind those comparisons," Mays says. "I started off recording these songs by myself, so the album just evolved naturally. When it came time to do overdubs, I just went with my instinct to put on pedal steel instead of something else."

But although Mays is sure to make an impact on the Americana scene with this first effort, he foresees his sound expanding in the future. "Some days I feel like I should be carrying on that tradition, and some days I feel like I should be doing something completely new. The Americana stuff will always be a part of me, but I'm hoping to get into other experimental projects that I can just bang out."

Something else Mays says he'll do as long as he can is surf — the East Coast beaches are enjoying a burgeoning reputation. "It's definitely blossoming. Under the right conditions there are some world-class waves, but there are about eight months of cold water."