For former Nova Scotia native Matt Mays, there’s always something special about an East Coast tour date.
“They’re just better,” he says of Maritime crowds. “There’s the whole ‘kitchen party’ vibe and love for music; everyone has a guitar in their living room on the east coast—and I bet most people, by the time they come out to the shows, have already been in their kitchens drinking and playing, so they’re primed for music. You can feel it in the air when you’re home. We tour all over the place, but there’s something you notice when you get back east.”
It seems Fredericton has a reputation to live up to—especially with Mays’ admission that “the last time we played the Farmer’s Market was one of the best shows of my life. It was a million degrees out; so hot, but it was so awesome. Everyone was in it together. It was great.” But the singer-songwriter is confident that when he hits the Currie Centre stage on Jan. 19, the performance will be memorable once again.
“There’s a lot of strength coming from the audience, and the band picks up on that. It’s always a great show.”
This time around, Mays and his band will be featuring songs off his latest album, last October’s Once Upon a Hell of a Time…, a rowdy, riffy record on which he worked through some extremely difficult personal experiences.
“It’s an exclamation from myself of some heavy stuff that was going down: losing some friends in really tragic ways, getting over a relationship. The way to deal with it was writing songs…It was really a kind of therapeutic process for me, to bring some of these songs and just plug in, play ’em and roll the tape.”
Though the album deals with heavy experiences, Mays wanted to be sure the resulting album offered optimism rather than pessimism.
“I wanted to do it in a kind of fun way,” he said. “The lyrics can be kind of a bummer, some of them, but the music I wanted to be uplifting and hopeful. There’s always a lift—not a lot of songs with minor keys on this record; it’s all pretty positive. I’ve been calling it ‘party rock for the heartbroken.’”
He is humble about the songs’ therapeutic potential—“I just wanted to sing and play my guitar really loud”—but admits that he does “hope they do help people. I know what it’s like to receive musical medication, and it’s the best.”
This humility extends to his thoughts on the bands he’ll be sharing the stage with: July Talk and The Beaches.
“If you haven’t seen July Talk, I think it’s a Canadian duty to go see them…Their live show is insane; it’s nuts. Same for The Beaches; they’re killer,” he says, enthusiastically emphasizing these bands’ presences in the show as much as his own.
Indeed, the stacked lineup paired with the on-campus venue, makes the show an attractive draw for UNB students and offers a chance to experience the legendary Maritime concert atmosphere firsthand. Besides, as Mays himself asks: “what better way could there be to spend a Friday?”
“What else are you fucking gonna do?” he says with a laugh. “Even if you don’t like rock n roll, you’re still gonna have more fun than smoking a bong on your couch or studying. Put the book down for a sec and come celebrate good music. We want to play for people—so let us play for you.”
Matt Mays, July Talk, and The Beaches will play the Richard J. Currie Centre on Jan. 19. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online or at the Aitken University Centre. UNB students can receive a 15 per cent discount on ticket prices by using the promo code “brunswickan” when ordering online.