When the world went into lockdown earlier this year Matt Mays took the opportunity to challenge himself as a songwriter, musician and producer. Dog City was written from the perspective of a rescue dog and recorded in a make shift studio in Mays’ garage. Going one step further, he asked fans to choose a release date during one of his Mantle Music online concerts. May 17th was selected at random, and, in the wee hours of the morning, Mays uploaded Dog City to Bandcamp. In August, Sonic Records released the mastered version of the album to digital music services worldwide and the vinyl LP arrived in September 2020. As it turns out, Dog City is a triumph, showcasing Mays’ versatility as both a songwriter and performer (he even contributed tenor sax to “Talking to the Sky”) and reflecting his wide range of musical influences. Mays described the songs as “about pure freedom, love, contentment, companionship and all the stuff in between. I wrote every note and lyric over the last 6 weeks in confinement in my cold garage and a few other empty spaces. Except for the Stooges cover :-)” While the album was produced in isolation, that doesn’t mean Mays was entirely without his buds. Long-time collaborators Tim Jim Baker (drums, percussion, programming) & Serge Samson (bass) contributed their parts from their home studios. More recent band mates Asa Brosius (pedal steel) and Melissa Payne (vocals) also sent parts via the wires. Leah Fay sang back-ups on “Talking to the Sky” while her July Talk bandmate Peter Dreimanis added his distinct voice to “Number Canine”. Kate Dyke added her vocals to “New Tricks” the day before Mays was to upload the finished album (because he wrote the song earlier that day).
Since departing seminal alt-country collective The Guthries in 2002, Matt Mays has alternated between solo projects (his self-titled debut, the film 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, Mays released Coyote in 2012 to much acclaim, including a JUNO Award win for Rock Album of the Year. In 2017 Mays released Once Upon a Hell of a Time… to be followed a year later by the album’s ‘woody’ companion Twice Upon a Hell of a Time…. 2019 saw the release of the “Let There Be Love” single and the Howl at The Night Tour which successfully brought together both the intimate and electric sides of the Matt Mays concert experience for the first time. As the pandemic shut down touring in early 2020, Mays set up a studio in his garage and produced Dog City, an inspiring album written from the perspective of a rescue dog