INTERVIEW: Matt Mays Chats About Reworking Songs on "Twice Upon a Hell of a Time..."
Fresh off of tour dates with The Gaslight Anthem, Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Mays is ending his 2018 on a high note. Just last month, Mays celebrated the release of his new album, Twice Upon a Hell of a Time..., an acoustic reimagining of his 2017 full-length, Once Upon a Hell of a Time…, which can be heard now below. Twice Upon a Hell of a Time... is much more than just an acoustic rendition of the 2017 release, but instead finds Mays reworking each song and uncovering unique parts that the original version didn’t touch.
With Twice Upon a Hell of a Time... out now, Matt Mays is already looking toward the new year, excited to hit the road, swapping an electric guitar for his acoustic. Until then, get to know a little bit more about Mays, the album and more below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
You have had an incredibly busy 2018, with tour dates alongside The Gaslight Anthem and the release of your new album, Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…. What has been the highlight of your year so far?
I think getting to play a bunch of legendary venues with The Gaslight Anthem in front of their insanely awesome fans was definitely my highlight this year.
Just last month, you celebrated the release of Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…, an acoustic re-imagining of Once Upon a Hell of a Time…. What inspired you to revisit these songs after the album was released?
I just thought the songs had a little bit more life left in them and I really enjoy the process of putting songs down in different ways. I think they can really convey different feelings or emotions at different tempos or keys. It just makes for a pretty fun musical ride.
The new album isn’t just an acoustic version of Once Upon a Hell of a Time…, but rather a re-imagining of the songs. What was it like revisiting and re-working these songs once more? Did any of them evolve into anything you didn’t expect?
I recorded them in the sequence of of Once Upon a Hell of a Time… so that I could make sure that each one would be different then the next or the song before it. I think the song “Ola Volo” is the one that sort of changed the most from the first version of the album. I just thought the album needed something a little more uplifting at that point. I let the sequence sort of decide the style of each song.
What was the most rewarding part of working on the Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…?
I think just proving to myself that the songs could be done more than one way and still hold up. And to uncover some parts of them that the first version didn’t.
How do you feel you’ve grown as a musician after reworking these songs? Did you learn anything new in the process?
I think recording this definitely made me a better musician and I think a better songwriter. I wasn’t able to hide behind anything with my guitar playing or singing so the process definitely becomes scarier and more honest.
What would you like for listeners to take away from the album?
Hopefully healing properties.
Now that Twice Upon a Hell of a Time… is out, do you have any plans before the end of the year? Any other shows coming up?
Just mostly getting behind the release and having fun with it.
Do you have any big plans or goals for the new year?
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to touring this album in the new year. Putting the electric guitar down for a little while. I have this really killer band to play these acoustic versions with me. It’s going to be different and fun and pretty therapeutic, I think.