The ocean ain’t blue…

Full-time musician, surfer, and dreamer Matt Mays is coming to the George Street Festival this Sunday. Elling Lien asked him some stupid and/or important questions in an attempt to peer into the depths of his soul.
We’re not so sure it worked, but it was an interesting conversation.

Okay. These questions are originally from a French show Bouillon de Culture, and they’re always asked on the show Inside the Actor’s studio. They’re supposed to reveal a person’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Okay. Are you ready?

Yeah. I think so.

What’s your favorite word?
My favourite word is “spatula”.

Just ‘cause I think it’s a funny word. I’m not sure where it comes from but I think it’s really funny.

What’s your least favourite word?

I think my least favourite word is… Jeez, I don’t know. That’s a tough question. Maybe “work”? [laugh]

Okay, is that your answer?
That’s my answer. “Work” is my least favourite word.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Mostly nature, I think. Like things that come directly from the earth, you know?

And what turns you off?
Ignorance. Selfishness. Mankind. [laugh] It’s kind of a bummer but it’s true. It includes myself. …People being ignorant to what’s important. Going back to the nature thing – I sound like a hippy here  – but people get so caught up in their responsibilities to pay a mortgage and stuff that they overlook the important things. Again, myself included. I’m not preaching, because I’m exactly the same way. I play music to make money and I get caught up with all that stuff.

I think man has a tendency to ruin the good, natural things in life how we’re taking things, you know? I think we spoil a lot.

What do you mean?
I don’t know… I mean, everybody should try to look at the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff. I think that’s a start right there. People have to realize they’re only here for maybe eighty years – or they may only be here for a day – a lot of people get so caught up in the little details. It’s a real tragedy. A waste.

After that question this is a heavy one…What’s your favourite curse word?
I’m gonna have to throw down the f-bomb on that one. “Fuck” is my favourite swear word. ‘Cause you can throw it down and it never seems to get old, you know? You can throw it down in any context. You can start things off with like “Fuckin’ I went to the beach today.” You know? It’s the only swear word where you can fire it in anywhere and people won’t even question it.

Except maybe your Mom.
Yeah exactly, [laugh] maybe my Mom would question it.

What sound or noise do you love?
My favourite sound in the world is leaves. When I’m in a place that has big trees in the summertime the wind hitting the leaves a certain way. I like that sound.

And what sound or noise do you hate?

Kenny G? [laugh]

Why do you hate Kenny G!?
I don’t know. I’m sure he’s a nice guy.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I think I’d like to rent Jet Skis on the beach somewhere, and be a rental Jet Ski guy.

I could be my own boss and spend my days in the sun getting a tan and playing in a Jimmy Buffet cover band on the weekends. It just sounds really nice to me. No bullshit, you know? There’s nothing emotionally tied to it.

Is there a lot of bullshit that you’re finding in the music business?

Oh yeah, tons. Yeah. [laughs] But another thing – I think I’d like to be a construction worker too, which is like being on the road. It’s forever changing. You’re always in a different location and you’re actually building something. I think that’s really good for the head. I like making things, watching things come together. So I think I’d like to be a construction worker.

Is that one of the problems with the fleeting part of music? Does music compare to construction at all?

It’s not a physical thing, but you know, someone will come up and say “Your record got me through a really rough time,” and hopefully my records will be doing that forever you know? But you just have to get through a layer of shit.

I’d like to be a boatbuilder for the same reasons. I’d like to know how to be able to cut down trees and shape them a certain way and end up making a beautiful-looking, sleek, flawless boat that sails well. I think it has to be one of the most incredible professions in the world.

First surfing and now sailing… What is it about the ocean that draws you in like it does?
It’s aesthetically pleasing. I mean it’s nice to look at and it smells good, and it sounds good.

But on another level it’s really humbling. Being a surfer, there are a couple of days where the surf can be huge and you get held down on the rocks underwater for what feels like forever. She decides whether or not she’s going to let you up or not.

I don’t know, it’s something that’s so humbling. It’s so powerful but doesn’t have any human force behind it. It has nothing to do with human technology. It does its own thing every day. Waves have been rolling in for millions of years and now we decide to ride them. But they’ve always been there and when your life is so cluttered with all these thoughts and emotions, and whatever, it’s really nice to paddle out there and harness the wind and waves.

The ocean’s just a lot bigger than any little shit problem we have here in everyday life. …Even if it’s a big problem, it’s not going to be bigger than the ocean.

And it’s the same everywhere. I’ve been on the other side of the world and it still smells the same, it still feels the same, it still humbles you and it’s just everywhere. It encompasses everybody.

What profession would you not like to do?
I wouldn’t want to be a parking enforcement officer.

I was thinking that today when I got a ticket. [laugh]
It’s the only job that I don’t understand why people would settle for. I mean, I don’t want to put anybody down, but to make everybody’s day worse as a profession seems to be very un-noble to me, but I guess somebody’s gotta do it, right?

Even jobs that are considered bad, like cleaning up shit or garbage, that’s still a noble job. Garbage has to be taken somewhere. I have super respect for everybody who does their jobs. You know, they’re all eating it. Some people make more money, but they’re all just as important. But parking? Dinging people for not putting a quarter in a little metal box? You only have one life and people decide to punish people for not putting a dollar in a machine?

I think there are a lot of other professions that those guys could be doing that might make them happier and make them feel like they’re doing something a little more important than giving the government an extra buck.

But again, I’m sure there are a lot of nice parking enforcement officers, and excuse me saying this but there are a lot of dicks out there too. [laugh]

My final question: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I don’t know. Jeez. I don’t know. Maybe just something  simple, like Booyakasha! [laugh] But I would probably hear him say, “You’re not supposed to be here. There’s been a mix-up.”

Sunday 30, Matt Mays & El Torpedo will perform at the George Street Festival at 8:15pm. Followed by Bedouin Soundclash at 9:30. (This is a win to get in event)