A Juno-nominated rocker with more than a decade of success in the music industry, the one thing Matt Mays is most thankful for is the moment he first picked up a guitar.
He was 14 at the time and at his parent’s home in Hamilton, Ont. Mays said he still isn’t sure why he took up the instrument and started playing.
But he played for hours. And the next thing Mays knew he was playing every day.
“I’m still playing four hours of music a day or more,” Mays said during a phone interview from Kingston, Ont.
Mays and his guitar perform at The Blue Grotto at 319 Victoria St. on Monday, Oct. 22. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance at The Grotto and Long & McQuade.
And Mays isn’t kidding when he says he doesn’t know what he’d do without his music. Unlike some musicians, he doesn’t come from a musical family beyond his parents being fans of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
But something was missing in his life up until that fateful day, he said. As soon as he played those first chords, he knew what it was.
“I don’t know what I would do without it now. It’s just a part of me, like breathing or eating or whatever,” said Mays.
“It’s like dancing. You don’t think about what you’re going to do next. You just do it.”
Mays can’t envision a version of himself without his music. There’s nothing else he wants to do, so he’s just going to keep playing, he said.
He’s been associated with a number of bands during his career, including The Guthries, Sam Roberts Band and Matt Mays & El Torpedo, which he was frontman for during most of the early 2000s.
The band’s hit single Cocaine Cowgirl received saturation radio play in 2005 and the accompanying video was a hit on MuchMusic.
That success led to Matt Mays and El torpedo performing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in December 2006 and touring with Kid Rock in 2008.
The group disbanded in 2009, but some of the members still perform with Mays. The Kingston gig kicked off a 25-stop tour in support of Mays’s latest album, Coyote, which has already given birth to the single Take It on Faith.
Mays took a year off to work on Coyote, saying he didn’t want to give in to the pressures of rushing out an album. The best music, like any art, has to flow, he said. It can’t be hammered out.
“I wanted to be true to the music,” he said, adding the songs reflect travel, cars and falling in love. “It’s about all that stuff that happens to everybody.”
About two-thirds of the 17 or 18 songs Mays will perform in Kamloops include music from Coyote. The rest will be a mix of tunes from throughout his career.
“It’ll be cool,” he said, promising fans a good night of rock and roll.
As for his plans for the future? Mays will keep playing his guitar four or more hours a day for as long as he can and sharing the results with the world.
“It’s something I need to do,” he said.
Where: The Blue Grotto, 318 Victoria St.
Tickets: $20 in advance at venue or at Long & McQuade.