Into the Rush of the Crowd

Matt Mays & El Torpedo
Opera House
November 12, 2005
Matt Mays and his band El Torpedo; Jarret Murphy (guitar), Andy Patil (bass), Tim Baker (drums), Brad Conrad (keyboards) walked out on stage with a scruffy, shaggy haired appearance to match their gritty country rock style.

With the heavy drum and bass beats of a rock song combined with the twangy, reverberating country guitar these boys from Nova Scotia have honed a style made popular by bands like, well, The Band and Matt Mays' idol Neil Young.

Though Mays is also the band's songwriter, penning tunes about his home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, life on the road and his rising career it's clear that performing is his favourite part of the job. Even while recording their self-titled album, Matt Mays and El Torpedo wanted to expose their grassroots gritty style by essentially recording the album live, with little post-production.

So if you've heard the album then it will simply whet your appetite for what the band can do on stage. Epic songs like "Stand Down at Sundown" showed off the band's ability to rock big, with heavy instrumentation. While slower songs like "Travellin'", revealed some of the more nuanced sounds.

But even with the gritty songwriting style, Mays managed to pen some radio ready, hooky tunes like the album's first single "Cocaine Cowgirl" that is just as honest and rugged (cocaine cowgirl/ she's out catching eyes/ on the other end of the desert skies/ taking you down to the dark side of town) as it is catchy.

The band's passionate live shows have not gone unnoticed, gaining Mays and the boys a small, but growing, loyal fan base. Most of the fans packing the sold out Opera House sang the words to every single song back to the band.

And Mays fed the love right back to the crowd reminiscing with them of his early trips to the big city playing in the Horseshoe Tavern, a smaller venue further down Queen St. from their current location, "To see a thousand people crammed in a room to see us is really nice." Mays mused.

But don't let their growing success make you think that these Nova Scotia boys are letting it get to their head, the humble band are proud of their success but did their best to tout their opening act The Novaks, another Maritime band (but these guys are from Newfoundland) who recently released their self titled debut album.

Mays referred to their friends on tour as "the best band in Canada right now", and shared the stage with The Novaks for their encore of their current single "On the Hood". With all nine musicians playing everything from their guitars and drums to castanets and a tambourine, and switching instruments with each other halfway through the song, the playful mood certainly fit that of the tune and the night; I don't care anymore/ they all tell me I should/ they're all looking for hits/ I'd rather lay on the hood/ of an old car/ with my girl friend/ and my real friend/ until the end.

Writer: Michelle Garcia

Photo:Michelle Garcia

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