“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
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.
After departing seminal alt-country collective The Guthries back in 2002, Matt alternated between solo projects (his self-titled debut, the faux 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 the JUNO Award win.