“I think if a song has meaning and is played with heart it can be done in a million different styles, tempos, time signatures, and colours.” – Matt Mays, 2018
A year after the release of Once Upon a Hell of a Time…, Matt Mays returns with that record’s companion piece: Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…. An acoustic re-imagining of the songs from the rock record, the tracks are presented in stark, stripped-down contrast to its predecessors. “Once Upon a Hell of a Time… is a Saturday night record,” says Matt. “This version is for the hangover on Sunday.”
Re-contextualizing the songs offers a new window into the lyrics. What he once described as a “partyrock record for the brokenhearted” transforms into a reflective and beautiful dive into false escapism, grief, love, and loss.
The recording came amidst a particularly busy time for Matt Mays. During a period when he headlined his first Massey Hall concert and supported sold out shows with The Gaslight Anthem all over North America, Matt teamed up with co-producer Eric Ratz to record at studios around Toronto between touring commitments.
Twice Upon a Hell of a Time… was originally conceived as a straight-up solo interpretation, similar to the iTunes Session recorded with Ratz in 2011. As the songs took shape, however, Matt decided to incorporate extra vocals and instrumentation. Tapping musicians Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Lee Harvey Osmond) on pedal steel, Anthony Carone (Arkells) on piano, and guest singers Andrew Rodriguez, Kate Dyke, and Melissa Payne, the album’s arrangements are lush and large without straying from the ‘unplugged’ vibe he sought from the outset.
Lead track “Ola Volo” is inspired by a Vancouver-based mural artist of the same name who also created the original album art for both records. “Her paintings and drawings all have a theme that I picked up on,” says Matt. “There’s a lot of nature. To me, it’s from another dimension, a very curious dimension that draws me in. Her pieces are very edgy and real-life at the same time. I had this feeling that I’d like to be in one of her paintings, to live in that world that she’s created.”
Following the single’s release worldwide on August 31, “Drive On” launches on September 28. Already a crowd favourite at live shows over the last year, it’s a song that tackles finding happiness within yourself; a track about “driving away from your problems and peacing out.”
Twice Upon a Hell of a Time… will be available on double vinyl, CD, and digitally on October 19, 2018. Not slowing down, Matt Mays continues to tour relentlessly with his band throughout the fall performing songs from these new records and his older albums – the first four of which finally saw vinyl releases earlier this year. He embarks on a second US tour in September, book-ended by festival shows in Vancouver, BC and St. John’s, NL leading up to the release of this new album.
After departing seminal alt-country collective The Guthries back in 2002, Matt Mays alternated between solo projects (his self-titled debut, the unfinished film soundtrack …When the Angels Make Contact) and band projects (the eponymous Matt Mays & El Torpedo record and 2008’s Terminal Romance). Following the dissolution of Matt Mays & El Torpedo in 2009, Matt released Coyote in 2012 to much acclaim, including a JUNO Award win for Rock Album of the Year.
The Union Street welcomes back, Matt Mays, Wednesday, January 29, 2019. Tickets are $40 . Doors open at 6pm and show starts at 8pm. All tickets are NON-refundable.