Making Contact

Matt Mays’ new album When The Angels Make Contact is a mysterious, winding journey that may catch people familiar with Mays’ style off-guard. Elling Lien asked him about the project.

What’s is When the Angels Make Contact?
I shot a movie in the summertime and basically didn’t get a chance to really finish it. I don’t know if the movie will ever get done, actually. It was sort of a money thing, so I decided to release the movie soundtrack because it was done and ready to go.

What’s the movie about?
It starts off as kind of a normal Hollywood B-movie and ends up kind of like an apocalyptic sort of crazy swirl of darkness. It’s a guy’s journey. He’s looking for a lost love of his, and he meets all kinds of crazy characters that warn him about the future.

The whole movie he rides a motorcycle down the eastern seaboard of the States and, yeah, it starts out fairly normal, and ends in quite a mess.

That’s all I can say really.

[laugh] Don’t want to give it away. How was the soundtrack put together?

It was done over four years, off and on. I had a bunch of songs and I wrote the movie, and started writing music for the movie, and that was it basically. It was all pieced together over the years. Tim Jim Baker from El Torpedo co-produced it with me and we tried all sorts of things… different techniques of recording, just for a change.

It does sound a lot different than what I’m used to from El Torpedo.

Yeah, I figured why do something that’s the same, you know?

What did you do that was different?

I listen to a lot of music that’s different than the music I play – or have played, I guess I should say. So I just wanted to try using a lot more overdubbing and a lot more time spent arranging. Trying to have a little bit more precision in our production.

How was it working with Buck 65?

It was really good, man. He was really up for the part, and he was in the movie as well, which was kind of cool. It was great. I knew from the start he had to be involved, so I sent him a song, and he liked it and wrote a verse and it turned out great.

What’s your connection to him?

Just knowing him from the Halifax scene, and we’re fans of each other’s music. It’s just nice to be able to work with somebody whose style of music is so much different than mine and we can converge on it and make it work. But I’ve known him a good number of years now.

The soundtrack has a lot of darker elements … where do they come from?

I think the darkness in the music was to help the darkness in the movie. I really wanted a normal-looking movie first and then a lot of undertones of darkness. I wanted to communicate that in the music.

I look forward to seeing the movie, but you say you think it might never get released. Is there a possibility?

I don’t know, I hope so. I mean, it’s going to take a lot of money to get out. But maybe it will be out someday. I really hope it does. I hope it can be done.

What’s missing? What’s keeping it from being released?

It’s basically an editing thing. We took out bits of the film that we had, and transferred the film. We shot it all on super-16mm film, which is really expensive to transfer and edit. To edit the snippets for the trailer and the video cost me a fortune, so to do the whole movie it would be so much more. Editing a whole movie and not to mention doing the audio on the whole thing is a lot of work and a lot of money. It sucks because the movie is basically done. It’s all the post work that’s expensive. There’s a full-length feature film in cans, basically sitting on the floor right now.

What made you do it on super-16?

Thinking back now, doing it digitally would have been a better idea, but it just wouldn’t have looked the same. I wanted it to have that classic film look.

What was it like working with Tim [Jim Baker] on something other than El Torpedo?

It was good. Him and I have been working on music since we were pretty young, and so we know each other really well. When we go in the studio, something just clicks and we bounce stuff off each other and make things happen. There aren’t many people who know what I can and what I can’t do in the studio, but he does, so it’s good to have somebody like that working on a project with you. And he’s really good at telling me straight up if something sucks too, which is a great help. [laugh]

You can catch Matt Mays at the Holy Heart Theatre on February 2. Halifax’s Museum Pieces will also be performing. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 day of show (taxes included). Tickets are available at the Mile One Centre box office by calling 576-7657 (toll free at 1-800-361-4595), or online at www.sonicconcerts.com. All ages, doors open at 7:30pm.

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