Archive for November 4, 2010

If you want to see a legend in the making, I highly suggest you make it out to Mr. Matt Costa‘s shows on Thursday and /or Friday November 4 and 5 at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg, respectively. He’ll be joined by Everest. Doors at 8pm, 21+, $17. ALSO, his new album Mobile Chateau is out, so get on it!

Matt Costa has come a long way since we did his first interview almost 7 years ago. I recall receiving an email from All Access Magazine with a recommendation of a singer-songwriter that I “might like.” After taking a listen to Costa’s demo, I was convinced this young gentleman’s voice had to be heard. I agreed to travel down to Huntington Beach, Costa’s home territory, where I met with his publicists who escorted me to meet the singer himself. Tall, lanky, and handsome, I could tell the 22 year old had look of an artist. We took a table in the corner, and talked casually about music as we glanced over the menu. Suddenly, our waitress appeared, and squealed, “You’re Matt Costa, right?! I asked to serve your table just so I could meet you! I love your music!” A bit flustered and flattered, Costa politely smiled and said, “Oh well thank you very much…” before he ordered a Philly Cheese-steak, and I got the spicy chicken sandwich. When his fan was a safe distance away, Matt, still blushing, said, “Wow, that’s never happened before!” We finally got down to business, and a few questions in, our food arrived.  I noticed that Matt was removing the bell peppers from his sandwich, and I exclaimed,”You dont like bell peppers?” to which he replied, “No, do you want them?” “I love them!” I said enthusiastically. Happily, I picked the peppers off his plate, and took a bite of my sandwich. “Woah, this is spicy!” I complained, and Matt kindly offered, “Do you want some of mine?” A great interview came out of our afternoon, one you can read below, and I still have a signed CD that is signed, “To the best journalist right now.”  I knew Costa would not just be  another struggling musician for long. He had the chops and the personality to go places. A couple weeks down the road, I again went down to HB, this time fora surfing contest that Matt was playing. On the boardwalk, I stood among a few passersby, and noticed Tom Dumont, of No Doubt, Matt’s producer/mentor, standing across from me. He waved, and I waved back. I was kind of confused, but after the show, Matt introduced us, and Tom said, “I waved because you looked like an old friend of mine…sorry! It’s nice to meet you!”   I had videoed  the show, one of the few times footage had been taken thus far… I should probably go find it…

I discovered Matt would be opening for my friends, Run Run Run, at the Troubadour, and when the soloist came up to LA, I made sure time to spend with a friend. As the years progressed, so did Matt’s music, adding a band, and heading out on tours, releasing one of my all-time favorite albums Songs We Sing, then a year later, Unfamiliar Faces, which became one of the displays and featured records for iTunes/iPod. My first realization that Matt had gained exponential numbers of fans was at an outdoor gig at a racetrack in Del Mar,  CA. I expected to be surrounded by people who had just “happened to be there,” but instead, I was in a sea of fans singing “Oh Dear” word for word. This was just the beginning.  Concert after concert, the swarms of sing-along-ers expanded, but despite his larger notoriety, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. In early 2009, Costa was chosen as the supporting act for Oasis, and of course, I had to be bi-coastal and see him play at the Staples Center, LA and Madison Square Garden, NYC. Recently, Matt has been headlining his own shows, and traveling the world. His recent release, Mobile Chateau, is the focus of the present tour. To say the least, I’m proud and happy to see such deserved success! Get the full listings of shows at Matt Costa’s website.

Here’s that OLD interview!

“Wow, this chicken sandwich is spicy!” I exclaim. “Do you want half of my sandwich?” he graciously offers. “I didn’t touch it!” he jokes. Sitting across from me is Matt Costa, the rising folk/rock singer/songwriter, at a local Huntington Beach eatery to discuss his emergence onto the LA music scene, and his first EP Matt Costa. The lanky, soft-spoken guitarist with his poetic lyrics and heartfelt melodies unveil a humble and sincere personality that is verified by his reflective conversation.

The 22-year old, born in LA and raised in Cypress, California, moved to Florida where he “pursued skateboarding and ‘[high] school on the side.’” Neither of his parents were musicians: his father “worked with the airlines,” and his mother “was around the house a lot.” He began music as a childhood hobby, “I started my first music class when I was really young…piano, but it took too long to read the notes and learn what they all meant. When she [the teacher] played, I’d listen…and figure it out. I played trumpet in the school band and started electric guitar when I was eleven…I was influenced by Nirvana then. You pick up your first guitar and learn your favorite songs.”

While Costa muses on his musical influences, our waitress politely approaches, “I’m a big fan…Matt Costa, right? I requested your table just so I could serve you!” After the waitress leaves, Costa seems quite surprised, “That’s never happened before!” Still a little shaken, Costa contemplates his musical roots, “My uncle had an old record collection. He gave me some stuff…Bob Lynn…I listened…his lyrics are really good. I was inspired by him and, of course, Bob Dylan. But more so than Bob Dylan was Donovan Lietch…the English counterpart to Bob Dylan…the most influential on my music and songwriting.” Asked about my favorite genre, Classic rock, he enthusiastically responds, “That’s my favorite kind of music to listen to! I like T. Rex…he’s bad-ass!”

Costa’s career began at home with a small recorder and CD burner. “I started making demos around here [LA], gave them to a couple friends…the demos finally got into the hands of Tom Dumont [guitarist of No Doubt],” Costa explains. “He’s the one who helped me record more and complete my ideas. I thought we would make demos like I had been, but he said, ‘Why don’t you put out an EP?!’ We put it out, and with his help, I started getting shows.” Making the EP has clearly been a satisfying accomplishment, and he elaborates on his songwriting process, “Lots of people ask, ‘What do you write first, lyrics or the music?’…I just write whichever I am feeling. Sometimes I’ll have thoughts and write down a poem. Or, I’ll have a little riff on guitar. Sometimes it works out perfectly, and I can put them together…” Since many listeners relate to the Sixties’ emotions of his EP, the songwriter, pondering a moment and then smiling, enlightens me on the messages of his music, “All the things I talk about are important to me, and I want people to take what’s important to them…” Costa’s goal is not to be an over-publicized celebrity but to do what he loves most. He modestly admits, “I try not to standout as much as possible and just do my thing… the most important … to make music that I like to listen to. I don’t want to be anything…I just want to write good songs, and hopefully I do.”

On life outside music Matt Costa confides, “Recently, it hasn’t been much else but rocking and rolling. I just try to relax. Right now, I’m reading Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I like reading because it takes you somewhere else.” “Have you read The Pearl?” I ask. “I don’t read that much!” Costa laughs.

Returning to the subject of music, we discuss his future. On July 22, Matt Costa will be playing at The Troubadour with Run Run Run and The 88, “who I like because they sound a lot like The Kinks.” The youthful musician is hard at work, creating material for a projected full-length album. For now, his Matt Costa EP provides deeply folk-influenced, heartfelt music, and a glimpse into the soul of a kind and sensitive artist. To find out more about Matt Costa’s shows and to listen/buy his EP, log in at, and experience a beautiful lyrical and musical introduction to a gifted singer/songwriter.