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Vancouver's The Matinee headline free GO Fest concert

'Folk-rockers' Matt Layzell says Whistler is the first stop for band after new album release



Singer Matt Layzell of The Matinee can't wait to get to Whistler.

The Vancouver alt folk-rock band performs a free concert on the mainstage of the Great Outdoor s Festival (GO Fest) on Sunday, May 22.

Layzell says they have just recorded their latest album, Dancing on Your Grave, with dream producer Jamie Candiloro and Whistler will be their first gig of the year – and the first chance to perform new music.

"He's worked with REM, Ryan Adams, Courtney Love and a whole bunch of people. He came up and spent the end of last year with us. We pretty much wrote and recorded the album in the studio with him," Layzell says.

"We're really excited to start playing some of these songs."

The Matinee only released its 2015 EP Broken Arrows in the U.S., but it managed to gain a following here.

"We were pleasantly surprised that one the songs ("Temper Temper") was No. 1 on CBC (Radio 3) in Canada for six weeks, that took us by surprise because we focused it solely in the States," says Layzell.

"It's kind of weird; we didn't really tour the EP. We put it out and it was really to buy time for the new record. So we didn't really get to play those songs either. So we're itching to perform a lot of music that no one has heard live yet.

"Whistler is a test run for all this material, the first show of our summer tour.

"The songs take on a new life once you start playing them live and we're very much a band that wants people to do more than listen to a record when they come see a show. We want them to enjoy the experience of the live music."

Along for the ride up the highway with Layzell is guitarist Matthew Rose, drummer Peter Lemon and guitarist-percussionist Geoff Petrie.

The Matinee's sound has been compared with Wilco and Tom Petty.

Creating Dancing on Your Grave was "an interesting process this time around," says Layzell.

"Our record label has a studio so we holed up in there with Jamie and we weren't under any pressure timewise. We could just let the creative juices flow and we could experiment.

"It's how records used to be made, so it was really liberating."

The result was 30 to 40 songs that were whittled down to a final 11 for the album. Asked how painful the process was, Layzell laughs.

"It's painful when you've got four band members trying to get a 'majority vote' sometimes, yeah," he says.

"To our benefit, we've all grown up together and understand each other fairly well. We're all Vancouver guys, we all went to high school together. We've got a solid dynamic and band inner workings that allow for some difficult conversations.

"Everybody started to get partial to certain songs and that could be because they came up with a part they truly love. In my case it could be a lyric or melody. At some point I have to stand back and say I can't be too close to this."

By the end, he adds, the band was very happy with its final selections and there are a few songs that didn't make it and now they're "in the bank for a later day."

The tone of Dancing on Your Grave is what you might expect, Layzell says.

"It's about implosion and rebirth," he says.

"We toured so much after our first record (2013's Swore We'd See the Sunrise) and our last winter tour a couple of years ago almost killed us. It was a harsh winter, -30 or -40 driving from Ottawa back to B.C. and every band has these stories.

"The dashboard lights were out, the brake lights were out, we were driving through blizzards. The heat went out in the Prairies, so we were huddling for warmth... we literally almost died a few times.

"By the time we got home, no one was speaking a word to each other."

Their former bass player left afterwards, but happily times change, more music gets made and Whistler will see the benefit this weekend.

For more information on GO Fest visit www.greatoutdoorsfest.com.


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