Who: Matt Mays & El Torpedo
When: Tuesday, July 8, 9 p.m.
You may as well check your ego at the door if you’re going to
jam with Matt Mays and the men of El Torpedo. They’re a laidback bunch, and
they’re truly in it for the music.
The band is Mays on vocals and guitar, Andy Patil on bass and
vocals, Jay Smith on guitar and vocals, and Tim Jim Baker on drums.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, these rockers are true East
Coast kids, and they’ve been making music with one another for a long time. In
fact, Mays goes way back with Baker, their drummer. Long before they played in
a band together, they could be found huddled around the Nintendo at their
parent’s dinner parties.
Mays moved to New York a few years ago, first settling in New
Jersey, and then finally ending up in Brooklyn about a year ago.
“I love it, it’s awesome,” Mays said, “It’s just an amazing
city — it’s just really electric.”
Mays released his first self-titled solo album in 2002. It was
very well received within the Canadian music industry, earning him nominations
for new artist of the year and adult alternative album of the year at the 2005
The group came together shortly afterwards.
“I’ve been really lucky with being able to find really great
players — not just great players, but good friends,” Mays added.
That’s not to say they haven’t gone through a few lineup
changes. Since the group’s first record was released in 2005, they’ve replaced
their keyboard player and guitar player, but there was no awkward audition or
adjustment period, because both are long-time friends of Mays.
Lineup changes have been known to either make or break bands,
and in the case of Matt Mays & El Torpedo, it seems to be the former.
“There’s something going on in the band right now that really
excites me with Jay and Adam, our two new guys,” Mays explained. “We’re
stronger and have some sort of force here this time that we never had before.”
Now, the band has taken on a whole new energy.
“We’re playing shows now, I’ve just been flabbergasted walking
off stage,” said Mays.
While Mays writes all of the songs himself, he brings them to
the other members to work out arrangements and get their feedback, so the
process is really collaborative and gives the band a unique sound.
This isn’t your typical emo-rock band — they’re
straight-up rock and roll.
“I live in the heart of indie rock, the hipster scene, here in
Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and there’s so many great people and everybody really
respects everybody, but at the same time, I feel like it’s starting to get
old,” Mays said with a laugh. “… A lot of these bands are playing disco and
don’t even realize it.”
While he digs disco, and stresses that he respects the
different indie bands that are doing their thing, don’t expect to hear Matt
Mays and El Torpedo relying solely on their synthesizers.
While they try and push themselves musically, by incorporating
new sounds into their music, they’re definitely not caught up with trying to be
trendy. Their sound is quite a bit deeper, with real guitars that sound like
buzz saws, and their bottom line is quite simple — they just want to rock
out and have a good time.
“We’re just going
to sit back and do our thing, and hopefully some young band will come up with
some vibe, hopefully stoner metal or something,” he added.
Surprisingly, Mays said he doesn’t listen to much music from
within his own genre. Lately, he’s actually been listening to a lot of hip hop.
“I’m finding the most originality and the most talent in it.
It’s something that I can’t ever conceive of being able to do — it’s just
so far away from what I do,” he said, adding that he’d just been to see The
Roots and walked away amazed by the performance of MC Talib Kweli.
“I feel such a power and a hunger in that stuff that I just
don’t hear in much music these days.”
Mays actually has some country roots, too. He started out
playing in an East Coast country rock band, The Guthries, way back in the day,
an experience which helped develop an appreciation for meaningful lyricism,
which he’s clearly carried over into his own genre.
“There’s a sentiment that comes along with a country song
— a true, good country song — it’s so honest and stuff, and I think
that’s, as a songwriter, an important trait to keep… because people have
built-in honesty detectors,” he explained.
They’ve waited a while to release their next full-length album
— almost three years — during which time Mays worked on a few solo
Chris Tsangarides, a producer who has worked with the likes of
Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath, helped with their latest album,
, which is released the same day
that they perform in Whistler.
This album isn’t as rootsy, and is more thought-out and refined
than their last, which was very straightforward.
“We wanted a real edge,” Mays explained, “We wanted our guitars
to sound really good and our drums to sound really good and we did it the same
way as our last album, where the four of us played all the songs together at
the same time to make sure that we had that energy.”
They’ve also been touring a lot. These guys do a stellar live
show, and that’s what they really thrive on.
Now, they’ve just embarked on a tour of Canada, opening for Kid
Rock. While Kid Rock may seem like a surprising choice as a touring partner,
Mays said the pairing actually makes a lot of sense.
“Kid Rock has been working his ass off for a long time, and I
respect him, so I think it’s going to be fun,” he explained. “… Anything that’s
different for us and is going to make us a better band. It’s going to be a
completely new audience for us, but at the same time we think we’re going to do
a good job.”
Their next move is to work at expanding into bigger markets,
including into the States, and getting their music out to more people to help
“What I care about is people who are going to get something from music — if its going to help them or make them have a better time at a party, or get them through a relationship breakup or get them into a relationship, that’s why I do it.”