— Brandee J. Tecson
Until four years ago, Matt Costa never had any aspirations to be a full-time musician. The 23-year-old native of Huntington Beach, California, had dabbled in music as a kid, tinkering with pianos, trumpets and "anything that made sounds," but Costa's true passion was not for songwriting — it was for skateboarding.
By the time he turned 19, Costa would spend several hours a day practicing the moves that could have elevated him to Tony Hawk-style success. But just as he was about to go pro, a terrible accident derailed his plans.
"I was coming down this 10-stair ledge and landed wrong and I shattered my leg," he remembered. "My whole leg just snapped in half and [I could see] the bone coming out of the skin."
Costa spent the next 18 months learning how to walk again. During that time, the shaggy-haired skate punk channeled his zeal for skating into writing and recording his own songs.
"That's when I really had time to dedicate to [songwriting], and I put into writing songs all of the discipline that I put into skateboarding, [because] I knew that as much as you [are willing to] put into it, that's what you'll get out of it," explained Costa. "It was almost like jamming with myself: I didn't have anyone else to play music with, so I'd write a song and make harmonies, and it was like there was this world I could escape to in these headphones."
Soon the singer was churning out his own songs by way of a four-track recorder he'd borrowed from a friend. Eventually, copies of his demo made their way around the SoCal surfing community and eventually landed in the hands of Orange County native and No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont.
While No Doubt were on hiatus, Dumont invited Costa to record in his home studio, and soon the two produced a five-track, self-titled EP. Eventually the duo had recorded enough material for an LP called Songs We Sing, due March 28.
While No Doubt were on hiatus, Dumont invited Costa to record in his home studio, and soon the two produced a five-track, self-titled EP. Eventually the duo had recorded enough material for an LP called Songs We Sing.
Costa is backed by Dumont on his debut, which consists of lush guitar- and piano-driven tracks that span the breadth of Costa's experiences and range from stirring optimism to extreme heartbreak. He originally released the LP independently last year, but now it's been remastered and partially remixed by Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, the Shins) for re-release on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. The March 28 re-release has a different set of songs as well, including four that didnít appear on the original (but omitting three that did).
"With an upwind facing starboard/ I wasn't sure of where to go/ As the salt burns my skin and your eyes as cold as the ocean/This is our day to day/ Won't you find your way back to these arms," Costa sings in "These Arms."
Pro-surfer-turned-musician Jack Johnson is a fan of Costa, having recruited him as support for his U.S. trek last summer.
"I first heard about Matt when a friend of mine sent me his CD. He kept telling me, 'Go dig up that one, you really have to hear it,' and I put it on, sat down and listened to everything, and it just really kind of hit me on that first listen," Johnson said of his new protégé, whom he signed to Brushfire last fall. "[It was] perfect in the sense that he didn't sound like anyone else."
Costa also contributed the song "Lullaby" to Johnson's "Curious George" soundtrack, to which Johnson added backing vocals.
While on tour with Johnson, Costa became a seasoned performer, learning to connect with up to 25,000 people a night, as opposed to the hundred or so he would draw on the L.A. club circuit. He'll begin a much more intimate U.S. club tour in April, with stops along the way at the Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals.
"All of my songs come from whatever I'm feeling at the time," Costa said. "I just try to get lost in the song, and hopefully it comes across to the people listening."
Matt Costa tour dates, according to his publicist:
- 4/1 - Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
- 4/2 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
- 4/4 - Portland, OR @ Douglas Fir Lounge
- 4/5 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Cafe
- 4/29 - Indio, CA @ Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
- 4/30 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rhythm Room
- 5/1 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
- 5/3 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room
- 5/4 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Barbeque
- 5/5 - Houston, TX @ McGonigels Mucky Duck
- 5/7 - Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
- 5/8 - St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill's Duck Room
- 5/9 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas
- 5/10 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
- 5/13 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Lounge
- 5/14 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
- 5/16 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star Bar
- 5/17 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat
- 5/18 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
- 5/19 - Indianapolis, IN @ Radio Radio
- 5/20 - Louisville, KY @ Phoenix Hill Tavern
- 5/21 - Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hall
- 5/22 - Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
- 5/24 - Boulder, CO @ Fox Theater
- 5/25 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Avalon Theater
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