As snow slowly cascades down from the sky, I sip on a cup of hot chocolate enviously thinking about where my next interviewee is located: Hawaii. Now keep in mind I don’t often get envious of people, but there are a few reasons that I must explain to you.
One: I have visions of basking in the sun, catching some waves, eating some pineapple, and smelling the fresh Hawaiian scent that sweetly lingers throughout the air.
Two: the interviewee is Matt Costa, indie singer/songwriter, who is currently on a world tour playing roughly 20 shows stretching between all the time zones in the US with a special stop at Western’s Multi Purpose Room on January 22.
Matt Costa’s music can be described as melodic, upbeat, and soulful, with remnants of folk and good old-fashioned rock. His influences include Bob Dylan, and Donovan amongst other 60s musicians that in his mind are “timeless.” Costa says in the 60s it was a lot harder for things to be cliché, especially with folk songs.
“If you can take timeless ideas, what’s going on in your own life, the metaphors associated with these and start putting words together and use the chorus to sum it up, even if it doesn’t make sense, then you have a song,” says Costa. “A song is a long period of evidence and I’m making a story.”
Costa hasn’t always been on the way to recording a new record, appealing to a growing fan base, and plane hoping. In fact, Costa used to be on the path to skater fame.
When he was 19, he suffered a skateboarding accident where his leg broke horrifically after he attempted to jump down a 10-stair ledge. Costa recalls seeing a puddle of blood surrounding him and his friends later telling him that they could see bone sticking out of his skin.
“My first thought was this, seriously. ‘Oh, shit’. I hadn’t enlisted in college yet, so I didn’t have insurance,” said Costa, reflecting.
Once his injury occurred, Costa spent his recovery time listening to his favorite records and playing his guitar more, sometimes for up to 10 hours. While he listened to music, he tried to figure out what the lyrics were about and what makes a song fluid.
“School is a burden. I made my own lesson plan for the day,” says Costa.
He got together a small recording that eventually ended up catching the ear of No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. Dumont essentially said to Costa that he liked his songs and invited Costa to come over to his house to record an EP. In time Costa gained a larger audience.
“I never thought I would be headlining shows,” says Costa. “There is a small Chinese restaurant by my house and I always thought it’d be cool to play there with like 40-50 people in there.”
Some would say that when Costa broke his leg it was a life altering moment, or maybe it was when his music happened to fall into the right hands, it could even be argued that it was a combination of all these factors that led Costa into the iPods of many.
“I think it’s what you make of an opportunity,” said Costa. “My broken leg was just as much of an opportunity as someone saying ‘let’s record these songs’. ”
When Costa is not tapping his feet along to the beat of his music on tour, he can be found watching Darwin or Hemingway biographies on A&E or DVDs, reading Mark Twain, sleeping, waking up, and traveling.
“A lot of my time is spent on a plane,” says Costa. “At home I’m constantly doing circles around my house, playing music, etc. On a plane you can’t go anywhere. You just have to sit there in a tube in the sky. It’s a good time to work on songs, and relax. Except when the turbulence comes; then it’s like, shit, you can’t do anything.”
If it’s only some air turbulence that slows this 24-year-old down, then so be it.
He explains that when it comes to performing on stage there, is a little nervousness at first.
“I have to get myself out of it though. Everyone wants to have a good time and if you’re having a good time on stage then everyone is,” says Costa. “People in the club see it and there is just a great energy. As long as that’s there, then it’s all good.”
On January 22 fans of Matt Costa could find themselves head swaying along to the sounds of “Cold December” snapping their fingers to “Oh Dear” or oo oohhing to “Behind the Moon.” Who knows some surprises could surface as well…
“The other night we were playing a show in Honolulu near Waikiki beach. The room was so dark I couldn’t see my guitar and missed a few notes. The whole place was dark. There were a few little glowing purple pathway lights that made us look like we were ghosts. I’m sure it looked cool, but the audience got a little surprise; [the music] got a little jazzier.”
Matt Costa’s tour ends February 3 in West Hollywood, CA. After that he hopes to go home, continue work on his new album, and wonder how long he’ll get to remain there until the next show comes along.
“The ultimate goal is to sit on a porch someday and have good stories to tell…as long as I’m happy then that is what matters,” says Costa.