More than any other east coast act, Matt Mays and El Torpedo gained the most exposure in 2005. One of CBC hockey host Ron MacLean’s favourite groups, the Torpedo single “Cocaine Cowgirl” hit number three on the most-played rock radio tracks of the year in Canada. The mysterious desert-themed clip found its way into heavy rotation on MuchMusic.
The band toured the US, Canada and Europe, and next month will head to PEI where they are up for five East Coast Music Awards. Expect the group to be present when the Junos are held in Halifax in late March. Still, international acclaim and awards nominations are all secondary to the hours the band put in to get to the podium. “I don’t want to dismiss it because there’s a lot of great stuff that goes along with” awards and exposure, Mays told The Coast last spring. “Working this hard, it’s great to get recognition in the public eye, for sure, because we basically left our lives behind for three years to get things going. It’s finally starting to show.”
Next up is a solo gig for Mays with Symphony Nova Scotia on February 17 and a March appearance in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest, the biggest music industry festival in the world.
Based on the laid-back demeanor of the group, it’s no surprise that the origin of the song that catpulted the shaggy-haired quintet into the living rooms and cars of a nation came from a more subdued place than the title implies.
“When you write a song, you can’t think—it just comes out,” Mays said. “You don’t think about them and hem and haw. As long as you can keep that happening, then that’s the main thing. It hasn’t been hindered yet, thank God.”
Runners-up: Wintersleep, “Danse Macabre”; Joel Plaskett, “Love This Town”