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Canadian roots rocker Matt Mays has become one of the nation's most popular new artists since hitting the road with his backing band, El Torpedo. Born on August 10, 1979, Mays first came to the attention of music fans as a member of the Nova Scotia-based alt-country band the Guthries, who formed in 1998. The Guthries released their first album in 2000, Off Windmill, but while the album was praised by critics and fared well with fans, Mays opted to strike out on his own. Mays released his first solo album in early 2003, simply called Matt Mays, and in order to tour in support of the release, he assembled a road band featuring Jarrett Murphy on guitar and vocals, Rob Crowell on keyboards and sax, Andy Patil on bass and vocals, and Tim Baker on drums, with Mays handling lead vocals and trading off guitar lines with Murphy. Extensive roadwork in Canada helped the band win a loyal fan base, and Mays gave his band co-star billing for his second album, Matt Mays + El Torpedo, released by Sonic Entertainment in the spring of 2005. The songs "Cocaine Cowgirl" and "On the Hood" became major hits in Canada, and the band was chosen to open a major Canadian tour by the Black Crowes. Mays began making noise in the United States after playing a showcase at the 2006 South by Southwest Music Conference and appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and in late 2006 Matt Mays + El Torpedo finally received a belated release in the United States through the independent 02:59 label. As Mays and El Torpedo began touring the United States to push the album in America, they were also playing larger shows at home in support of album number three, the ambitious When the Angels Make Contact. In early 2007, Mays relocated to New York City in order to better promote his career in America, and guitarist Jarrett Murphy amicably left El Torpedo; Jay Smith, from the Cape Breton band Rock Ranger, signed on as the band's new guitarist in April 2007.