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Matt Costa

Indie-folk artist Matt Costa grew up skateboarding in Southern California. In the wake of a debilitating accident, Matt discovered a new passion and natural aptitude for songwriting. He soon crossed paths with No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont, whose early mentorship helped put Matt on track for a successful and enduring music career. In this episode, we speak with Costa about songwriting, skateboarding, touring, John Steinbeck, and his brand new album Yellow Coat.

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Transcript

Evan Ball:
Hello, and welcome to Ernie Ball's Striking a Chord podcast. In this episode, I speak with Matt Costa. Today I'm speaking with singer, songwriter, guitar player Matt Costa. Matt has a brand new album out called Yellow Coat. So we talk about the origin of that album and where he was personally, emotionally when he wrote the songs. We talk about the event or mishap really that basically rerouted his life and put him on the path to where he is today. Other topics include the role of Tom Dumont from No Doubt played in Matt's musical career, the powerful effect of pairing music and images, touring insights, mermaids and more. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Costa. Matt Costa welcome to the podcast.

Matt Costa:
Thanks very much for having me.

Evan Ball:
All right. I first heard of you from a man named Scott Applegate who claimed to be your cousin.

Matt Costa:
Yeah, I've never met that person or heard of that person in my life.

Evan Ball:
So this person, I remember him talking about his younger cousin started to play guitar, writing songs and Tom Dumont from No Doubt was recording him and pushing him. And it was like one of these you'll never believe what's happened to my cousin. So that's how I first heard of you.

Matt Costa:
I mean, it's true. I mean, Scott has known me since I was a tiny baby and he was probably startled too. Because I played guitar when I was young and played in the school band and stuff but I was more interested in skateboarding and things. But yeah, around 19 or so I broke my leg and then I started sitting with an acoustic guitar a little more and I started writing songs. And then I knew Scott always played music and as a kid I would go to his house and his roommates and they were always really good. He would play bass and he'd be shredding and his friend was a really good guitar player. And I never thought about becoming a musician is the thing. I liked it but it seemed like a whole other realm that wasn't even a possibility.

Evan Ball:
Because you were really in the skateboarding world at that point, right?

Matt Costa:
Yeah. And also I mean, I didn't really know, I didn't know that much about bands and music and things. I just knew that I liked music and I liked records but the music whatever, business or industry or entertainment or anything like that just seemed like a really far fetched thing. And then when I did meet Tom Dumont he had gotten a hold of some four track demos. Well, it started because I was recording on a little cassette player and a friend of mine was like, "Hey, you should record on this four track." And then when I got the four track then I realized, "Oh, I can lay stuff over it, lay other guitar parts or lay harmonies and things." And that's when I felt like I was able to really start exploring songwriting or textures more, it was a nice tool. And then Tom got that and then we're off and running. It was like within a year or two of making my first recordings which is about 10 or 20 of them and about four of them I liked or something.

Evan Ball:
Okay. So let's see so you grew up in Southern California?

Matt Costa:
I did yeah. I did grow up in Southern California. For awhile I lived in Florida. I lived there for four or five years.

Evan Ball:
Okay. Was this a skateboarding accident? You said you broke your leg or was it an arm?

Matt Costa:
I broke my leg really bad yeah.

Evan Ball:
And that was skateboarding?

Matt Costa:
Yeah. I was going down a 10 stair ledge which at the time was normal. I look back on it now and think that's crazy but yeah.

Evan Ball:
Right. So that's really what was the impetus to you having a career change, not a career change but a hobby change I guess at least at first?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, it was. I guess I never looked at skateboarding as a career. It was a passion and I had some sponsors and things like that but I was looking at it from such a young mind. When you're 16 someone who's 25 is ancient so I was like, "Man, if I could skate till I'm 25 that's the end of my life." And so yeah then I started playing music and it was really just something to put myself into during recovery because I was laid up for two years or so.

Evan Ball:
Oh man. Okay. How did the stair accident happen? Did your foot slip off the board?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, it was a sketchy spot. I was in front of this high school in the city of Industry and there was a 10 stair ledge to my left. I'm [inaudible 00:04:54] footed so it was backside and it was on a gradient. So then I didn't really have that much control of my speed and then right when I'd pop on the top of the stairs there's a little lip right there so everything made me feel a little bit uncomfortable with controlling it. But I was skating and I did a nose slide and then I tried... This is getting technical but I tried a 180 nose grind.

Evan Ball:
No, I like it.

Matt Costa:
Okay. Yeah I tried a 180 nose grind and then I was like, "Oh, I just want to try a crooked grind on it." And that's where your front truck, it's like a nose grind but it's at an angle so it's crooked and it was backside so it's a common track. So I was trying a crooked grind and then when I came off of the ledge it was pretty steep and I guess the board didn't level out it landed primo and then that's where it's on its side. And then my ankle just rolled off the front. I laid on the ground there. It happened so fast and as I was laying down there I was like, every time you fall you just sit for a second and you get back up. But I looked down at my foot and the bottom of my foot was staring at me and I thought... But I was in disbelief I was like, "No, that's just my..." Because I couldn't feel it I was like, "No, it's just my shoe."

Matt Costa:
And my friend came up and he looked at it and I was like, "Is it all right?" And he's like, "You don't want to know." And I was like, "No man." And I go, "Well, is it broken?" He's like, "Yeah." And I was like, "Okay." Since my foot was staring at me I was like, "Is the bone sticking out of the skin?" He goes, "Yeah." And I was like, "All right now it's terrible."

Evan Ball:
I can't believe you didn't feel it.

Matt Costa:
I couldn't feel it no. It was like I was just laying on the ground. And then when I realized what had happened I was just like, "Oh my God, what am I going to do?" And the first thing that crossed my mind, like I said I was 19 and I had just graduated high school and I didn't have insurance because to get insurance through... Like I didn't have my parent's insurance anymore. And I guess through my dad's company he worked for the airlines and if I was in college then I would have some insurance for two years or something. But I didn't enroll in college so the first thing I thought was like, "Holy shit, I've got to enroll in college right now."

Matt Costa:
And so, I called my parents and left a message literally 10 minutes after it happened. I was like, "I'm on the ground. I broke my leg. The bone is sticking out of the skin. An ambulance is coming. I need to enroll in college." And then, they thought I was messing with them until the next call was like I was in the hospital and it was a real thing. And then I did go to college for a year or two here at OCC [crosstalk 00:07:38]

Evan Ball:
Wow you really kept your composer though, had some lucid thinking for having your foot twisted around.

Matt Costa:
I mean, it was crazy. Yeah it was crazy. And then, they shot me up with a bunch of morphine when they put me in the ambulance and next thing I know I woke up and the surgery was done and things and I was in the hospital. It was crazy I was in the hospital for a week because it was so bad. The bone had just shattered and the other, it was a tibia fibula. And so, one of them had shattered, the ankle had broken off and then one of the other bones came out of the skin. And so, they just had to put a bunch of screws in there which eventually just blocked all the blood from circulating down there so it didn't heal.

Matt Costa:
Basically after a year they told me I could walk on it because the screws would hold it and that would stimulate bone growth but it didn't, it rebroke it. And then I told the doctor and he said, "No, that's impossible." But he took an X-ray and he's like, "Well yeah, it's rebroken." So they cut me back open, put a plate in there. And then he told me that that would hold it for good and I didn't believe him but it did.

Evan Ball:
That's gnarly and that's quite an entry into music.

Matt Costa:
I know, I know really.

Evan Ball:
Were you writing songs before this? You said you tinkered with guitar, played somewhat before, but were you already writing songs?

Matt Costa:
No, I wasn't writing songs. I had an electric guitar that would fret out around the 10th fret or so. And then, and I would just learn the beginning. I would learn the first 10 seconds to any song that I liked, the classic stuff from the 90s like smashing pumpkins and Nirvana and stuff like that.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Okay. So, the song writing really happens after the skateboarding accident?

Matt Costa:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Did lyrics come naturally to you?

Matt Costa:
Well, the thing was is that I wanted to play guitar and do these songs and then I realized well if you play guitar and you want to have a song you've got to sing. So then I just was like, "Well, I guess I've got to sing about some stuff." And I guess it was, I wasn't really aware of any techniques or anything but it was a stream of conscious thing where I would just start scatting out words or something and then phonetically they would turn into a phrase or something. And then when I liked that then I would roll with that. And sometimes originally they weren't fully formed stories or they weren't fully formed ideas and that's when I sat with Tom. He was like, "I like this song." He goes, "You need to just elaborate on it more. I don't know what you're trying to say. You may understand what you're trying to say but the listener doesn't understand what you're trying to say." So he'd say, "Go in that room or go home and sit with that and then come back to me." And so then I would do that.

Evan Ball:
So how was that connection made? Did you already know him?

Matt Costa:
No I didn't know him. There're a clothing company called RVCA which is R-V-C-A. And at the time when I first met those folks I was working just helping out with this shoe company that was starting out and I would deliver shoes to different stores or different skateboarders and things. And then somehow the guy who ran the company knew the people at RVCA so we went in there one day and they were like, "Oh you know Matt plays music." And so he's like, "Give them your CD." And I was like, "No. No. No. No." He was like, "Give it to them." So I gave it to them and then they liked it and so they were like, "Oh, Matt plays music." And every time I'd see them they'd ask what I was up to.

Matt Costa:
And eventually Tom came in one day because his wife, well his girlfriend at the time his wife now they've been married for a long time, was working there. And then the owner Pat was like, "You should meet Tom. He plays music." And I didn't know he played music in a world famous band. He had a beard at the time and he's the quiet one in No Doubt. So he was like, "Yeah I play music." He was like, "Maybe we could do something sometime." And a week later he called me up and I even saw him on the Super Bowl during that week and I told my parents I was like, "Oh, there's that guy that I met that's pretty crazy."

Evan Ball:
So wait, what city are you guys in?

Matt Costa:
Yeah that was in, I was living in Huntington Beach and then that company was in Costa Mesa and then Tom lived in Long Beach. And so, when we started recording I would drive up there once a week or once or twice a week or so.

Evan Ball:
So Tom basically discovers you, he's someone who's established in the music biz, but what's the next move, his next move as far as helping you to get your career moving?

Matt Costa:
I think it was, for him and I it was mostly just it was a good outlet to just create. At the time I was just saying, "Wow, I'm recording songs and they're sounding nicer than ever before." And he had all this equipment that I didn't know what a compressor was, I didn't know what a preamp was, I had no idea what any of that stuff was. And so we were recording and writing and then during that time too I'd already done some shows locally and around LA and stuff but it was mostly just getting, just doing it. At that time I would just any place I could play live I would go do it so I would go to just any open mic or poetry readings and then if a friend had a gig I would jump on there.

Matt Costa:
He'd be like, "Matt you've just got to play as much as possible." And so as we were recording those songs I was doing that and we made an EP first that came out and it was just a self-titled EP. And so once I had that we made a thousand or 5,000 of them. And then that helped me get more gigs. And then I just started giving those out and originally I wasn't selling them. I just felt it was more, I was just excited to give it out and I thought it would be more productive just to hand them out rather than try to make five bucks off each of them or something.

Evan Ball:
Right. So, I guess he played a producer role in the studio and maybe a mentor as far as getting out and gigging and what you should do?

Matt Costa:
Yeah all of that. I mean along the way he was a producer, produced all those first EP and the first two records and he had a lot of experience in the studio and also too getting a booking agent and publicists and stuff like that. I remember there was just different people he'd be like, "Oh, such and such can help you." We'd go to a party or something and I'd sit in front of these people and play songs he'd be like, "Matt, you've got to play in front of them." So I'd play in front of them reluctantly. And then, little by little that stuff started doing more.

Matt Costa:
There was one tour that he went on that was a No Doubt tour. They put out a cover talk, talk cover, It's My Life and they toured the greatest hits around that and he invited me to go on that tour with them and play on this opening stage when you walked into all the festivals. So I'd play that but there was no one there when I would come in, there'd be 10 or five people or something. So then I just took my CD case and I just started walking around the amphitheaters and just basically panhandling around the amphitheaters and sliding in my CDs that way.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Okay. This is great. So, some guerrilla tactics there.

Matt Costa:
A little bit yeah.

Evan Ball:
All right. Let's fast forward a little bit. How does the Jack Johnson connection come about? Because you toured together and then you had the label.

Matt Costa:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. How'd that connection come about?

Matt Costa:
Well Jack he had just heard my music, actually it was Emmett Malloy who runs Brushfire Records with him, it's actually Jack's manager but he's an incredible filmmaker. They had heard my music and they wanted to use it in one of their films. And so they had asked if I had any more music so we were in the process of finishing up my first record and I gave them an early copy of that. And so they had asked to release it and I had originally just wanted to put it out independently because Tom and I were talking about just doing it ourselves. So, I didn't sign initially to the label with them but they had asked me to go on tours.

Matt Costa:
So I went on tour with Jack and at the time I knew who Ben Harper was and I liked Ben Harper's music and I knew that when Jack had first come out his first single had Ben Harper on it. And so I was like, "Oh, that'd be cool to go play shows with Jack. I like his music." And I didn't know, I thought it'd be like House of Blues or something like that. I mean, those were pretty massive at the time. But we go on this tour and we're playing for 10 or 15,000 people a night. And this time I was on the main stage and simultaneously throughout all that I'd played around LA gigging at clubs, Troubadour or all of them really like the Viper Room or the Whiskey or the Mint. And then up and down the coast to places in San Francisco like Cafe Du Nord and then dive bars up in Oregon and stuff like that. And so when it came time to do this when I realized the places we were playing I was really nervous because I had never played in anything that big before.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. Well that is interesting so it sounds like a big part of that original connection was having a song for a movie?

Matt Costa:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
And it seems like you've had a lot of success since then getting songs placed in movies or other mediums. Has this made an impact or been especially helpful in your career?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, it is. I mean, I think I have always viewed music in that way more visually I think then even before in anything else rhythmically or before that when it strikes an image in my mind then I start rolling with it. And so as far as getting stuff in and films and things it did remind me because it was a surf film and it reminded me of when I was young a lot of the music I got turned on to was through skateboarding videos bringing it back to that. And so the reason I started loving any bands really it wasn't on the radio. I went through the alternative radio phase where like I said Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and stuff but then by the time I started getting into videos more there was all sorts of stuff on there. There was underground hip hop, there was punk rock bands, there was stuff from the sixties and seventies I'd never heard of, there was everything.

Matt Costa:
So, the reason why I think I really liked a lot of music and saw the correlation between what a song could do to an image was because of skateboarding. I never even paid attention to it in films before. I mean, it was those you just feel a mood. But I remember making my first skate videos and taking a song and putting it into skateboarding and being like, "Wow, this changes it." And so, I felt like that had a lot to do with it.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. So I assume that does carry forward when you're thinking about videos. Do you often get video ideas in advance when you're writing your songs and are you actively involved in the process of creating your videos?

Matt Costa:
Yeah. More so I guess in the last 10 years I've had more of a hand in how the visuals come to play and especially in the last six or eight months with COVID happening that's all I've been doing here is making music videos for a new record that I have out. Which I have a little green screen studio and doing some stop frame stuff that out of context it takes on a whole new light. So, and the last record I put out it's a funny story. I'd always imagined for this song Sharon and the record I put out Santa Rosa Things I had imagined this strange bar was lots of aquariums in it. And so, I Googled aquarium bars online because I have a lyric that mentions the aquarium bar.

Matt Costa:
And so originally I drove up the coast, I went to Morro Bay and I saw the aquarium there and I thought maybe I can make this look like it's some sort of strange bar from the facade and then go inside. And I didn't know how I was going to make this strange bar. I had searched random dive bars and nothing. But when I Google searched this aquarium bar, this Mermaid Bar came up that was in Great Falls, Montana. It's like an old hotel from the sixties. And then in this Tiki bar they have this big glass window that you would see at a Marine aquarium or something and these mermaids swim in there. And I thought, "Oh my God, this is genius. I've got to go there and just be a lounge singer singing my video in this crazy bar."

Matt Costa:
So I called them up. I called them up and they were like, "Well." It was like the woman who owned it was on the phone and I said, "Do you ever rent your space out?" She was like, "Well, weekdays we don't do it the restaurants open but Sundays after the Sunday brunch we have a time slot open so you could come use it. And the mermaids are $25 an hour, they need a month notice in advance." And so I almost was like, "I'm going to go there anyway. We'll figure it out. I'll jump in the pool." The next day I talked to my friend Pamela is like, "We've got to go."

Matt Costa:
So we almost booked a flight the next day but we waited a month. I [inaudible 00:21:18] a treatment for it and painted a gold suit. The mermaid actually who was in the video had been a fan of my music before she knew who I was and so it all was synchronistic the way it worked out and it was pretty fun. It turns out she also works on Bob Dylan's ranch up in Montana. She asked me in a quiet time we had when we weren't filming she goes, "Are you familiar with Robert Zimmerman?" And I was like, "The Robert Zimmerman?" She was like, "Yeah." I was like, "Yeah I mean I know Bob Dylan's music." She's like, "Oh, I work on his ranch." I was like, "That's pretty cool."

Evan Ball:
Oh, wow. And yeah, that's a really cool video so it's great hearing that backstory. So, you toured with all kinds of bands around the world. Is there a tour that is most memorable to you?

Matt Costa:
A tour that's most memorable? Well, I would say there is a couple for different reasons. I would say that as far as touring with musicians that I've always liked a couple I guess at this point it was, I don't know how many years ago it was but I did a tour opening up for Modest Mouse. I was a big fan of their music and so going out with them and touring around the country that was pretty great. And Johnny Marr was in the band at the time too so it was...

Evan Ball:
Did you say Johnny Marr?

Matt Costa:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
I didn't know that. How did I miss that one?

Matt Costa:
Yeah he was in the band so it was like a double whammy they got the Smiths and Modest Mouse and One World. So I was on the road with them and that was pretty incredible seeing them play every night and get up on stage and play some shakers or something so.

Evan Ball:
Yeah how fun, okay. Was Johnny Marr in the band for a while or was it just a short stint?

Matt Costa:
It was a short stint. It was around 2009 or something I think that he was in the band.

Evan Ball:
Okay yeah I was busy having kids in that era.

Matt Costa:
Yeah And so I remember having a guitar conversations with him and yeah he's incredible. They're all great people but he was actually one of the most outgoing guys in the group at the time. He was very sweet.

Evan Ball:
All right. We've brushed on this but who are your main influences? Do you have a list?

Matt Costa:
I mean, as far as literature goes I like John Steinbeck and that ties back to Tom Dumont. When I first started recording with him he was like, "Matt, you got to..." He's like, "You should read this book," and it was Tortilla Flat. And so, I ended up really liking that book and especially too the more I started to read him it was like every time I'd drive up and down the coast of California it was like I had a new insight into a world that I would just drive by normally and it gave me a little bit of history and poetry to the landscape. So I think that played a lot into, you asked me about lyrically and things like that and I think that played a lot early on and still does into influences.

Matt Costa:
As far as guitar stuff goes, I really like Richard Thompson because his electric and acoustic guitar playing, the way he shifts between the two and he's one of my favorite guitar players. And as far as song writers go I really like Harry Nelson because I like the way that he can be really satirical and playful and very serious at the same time too so.

Evan Ball:
That's great. Yeah well I like the breadth of the influences there that's great. I actually just bought East of Eden. I tend to only read nonfiction but I thought, "I'm going to get a novel." So have you read that one?

Matt Costa:
I have, yeah.

Evan Ball:
Okay. Do you have a favorite in case I want to keep going in this direction?

Matt Costa:
Well yeah, I do. If you like nonfiction my two favorite works of his are the Log From the Sea of Cortez and Travels With Charlie, which are both nonfiction. One is about he drives around the U.S. because he feels like he doesn't know his country anymore so he goes around and basically catalogs what his experience is drive around the U.S. with his poodle, a large poodle named [crosstalk 00:25:36] And then The Log From the Sea of Cortez. He goes down with one of his best friends in muse Ed Ricketts, who was a Marine biologist, and they go down around Baha and go into the Sea of Cortez and catalog some marine studies and then get into some more existential things around that.

Evan Ball:
Thank you. Thank you for those.

Matt Costa:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
All right. When is the new album coming out?

Matt Costa:
It's coming out in September. It comes out on September 11th.

Evan Ball:
Anything stand out as far as differentiating this album from previous, whether it's the process or your mindset or mood or anything?

Matt Costa:
Yeah. Well, I never expected to make this many records. When I made my first record, Songs We Sing, I thought, "Oh my God, I did it. I made a record." Before that I was even just excited to write a song. So to have a number of records in my catalog I feel pretty fortunate to have that. But for this one it's interesting when life challenges you that's when I guess it changes your perspective. So I had a big life shift in this last two years and it changed my outlook on life. And so I felt like that there was a lot more personal, spiritual, more on that level than on a sonic level is where I was coming from.

Matt Costa:
I didn't even really think about making a record I was really just trying to write songs in a cathartic sense. And so, over a year and a half or a year or so posting up in my room here my manager had asked me, he had said, "Do you have any new songs?" And I was like, "I don't know." And so he asked me to send him what I had and he's like, "I think you've got enough for a record." I was like, "Oh man, I wasn't even planning to make a record," and he's like, " I think it's good." And so yeah so then I turned it into a record. Bits and pieces of it were recorded here at home and then I went to a studio up in LA and a producer Alex Newport he has a studio at his place up there and his wife is very kind to allow their home to be turned into a studio.

Matt Costa:
So yeah, it came about from writing from a really, a different place. I wasn't even thinking of the end product it was really just a cathartic sense. Which you would think that's where everyone should write from. And in a sense I feel like when I write songs normally and when I'm not challenged by things then that comes about in a way unconsciously. But I think this was a very conscious effort to just get it out but not do anything with it. Because I was like, "I don't want to..." I didn't really feel like playing music or anything at the time actually but I guess I can't help it so.

Evan Ball:
Yeah. I guess maybe there's something pure about that when you're not even thinking about an album or putting it out and it just comes out naturally.

Matt Costa:
Yeah it was like that.

Evan Ball:
Yeah I don't want to pry, was there a particular event that put you in this space?

Matt Costa:
Well yeah, my wife and I had got a divorce over being together for 10 years. So it made me just really start over again. And so then basically I had to rethink who I was as a person. And a lot of people, close friends or whoever, even fringe people were like, "You know you're going to have great stuff to write about." And I was like, "I don't want to do that. It's the last thing I want to do in this moment. Actually, I don't even care. I questioned who I was. And so, I didn't write for a while in that sense. And then, I basically just sat down with this nylon guitar and would just sit down and basically it was like a healing process as far as mantras to myself in a way to work through it and basically it's not blaming anyone for anything, not trying to blame someone else but letting love heal itself. I don't know if that sounds trite or not but it really was all I could do.

Evan Ball:
Right. Was there a process for narrowing down your songs or did you just have just enough songs to make an album?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, I mean the good ones normally stand out but for the most part I do try to think about conceptually, lyrically how once everything's out it's easier to look at it as a whole and even still it takes, years go by and until you have real perspective.

Evan Ball:
Do you have a large phone bank of ideas?

Matt Costa:
I do yeah. I do have a large phone bank of ideas. The thing is sometimes you get them while you're driving and you're just like, "All right, am I really going to do this right now?" So, I pull over or something and then voice memo it or whatever, get pulled over for texting like, "Officer I wasn't texting, I was writing down lyrics. They were coming to me miraculously."

Evan Ball:
Yeah you've got to grab it while you can. There's been many times where I think I'll remember something and it's just gone.

Matt Costa:
It's true but I've also gotten comfortable with letting that stuff go too because a lot of times I'll be even at home working on an idea or something and then I get a call and I have to go immediately out or something and it's a dire need. So, I jump up and I go take care of the business, come back to it five hours later. And all of a sudden it had time to simmer and it's even better. Or I guess it just is what it is, I don't know if it's better, if I don't know what it would have become if I would have sat there and dwelled on it. But learning to embrace that stuff is important because you can be disciplined as you want in anything but also you've got to let real life in too.

Evan Ball:
All right. I'd like to try a lightning round here.

Matt Costa:
All right.

Evan Ball:
Cool. All right. If you could tour with any band past or present who would it be?

Matt Costa:
Okay. Past or present? Oh man. I would say Phillip Glass.

Evan Ball:
Okay. Ideal set length?

Matt Costa:
That's a tough one. Maybe I think yeah an hour long is probably good.

Evan Ball:
All right. Do you enjoy supporting or headlining more?

Matt Costa:
Well, I would say...

Evan Ball:
Headlining is probably more fun, right? But support you might grab new fans?

Matt Costa:
Yeah. I don't know. They both have their own merit. It's nice to get up there and do your thing and then sit back and be able to watch the rest of the show I like that. But headlining my own shows I'm never going to contest to that.

Evan Ball:
Right. Do you have a best gig ever?

Matt Costa:
Yeah I think it was actually I just did one song where I jumped on stage and opened up a set with Donovan Leitch. I sang Sunshine Superman with him for David Lynch Foundation. So I met David Lynch backstage and First Transcendental Meditation Group and then jumped on stage and saying Sunshine Superman with Donovan. It was the shortest set I ever did. I jumped for one song. But I think that was pretty all time.

Evan Ball:
That's cool. Okay. Do you have a worst gig ever?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, I was talking about it the other day. You don't realize they're going to be that bad when you start. You think they're going to be great. So I was doing a show in New York with Money Mark and my guitar had broken a string before and I was using alternate tunings. I was about to go on stage, I was actually running late at this point because my strings were broken.

Evan Ball:
[inaudible 00:33:56] I'm sure.

Matt Costa:
Speaking of which... No it wasn't [inaudible 00:34:01] They weren't.

Evan Ball:
Someone else's?

Matt Costa:
Yeah, I won't name any names. And so he's like, "Oh, use my guitar." He goes, "Be careful, don't retune it because the intonation's terrible on it." It was an old guitar from the fifties. And I was like, "Well I have to." And he's like, "All right." He goes, "But do it at your own caution." And it was like I had to really jack up the tuning. So I tuned it up, had it all set backstage, went on stage. And then all of a sudden it was just like couldn't keep it tuned at all so I sat there and basically just fumbled through this set of trying to tune the thing out of tune and I just came off stage and gave it to him and I was like, "Thanks man." He's like, "How'd it go?" I was like, "You were right."

Evan Ball:
Favorite way to pass time on tour?

Matt Costa:
I like going to museums. I like getting up early and going to whatever art museum is in the town there or an Arboretum or something.

Evan Ball:
That's cool. So do you have a favorite country or city maybe for going to museums?

Matt Costa:
Well I mean, in the U.S. I always enjoy going to the Chicago Institute of art. I know there's still so much to explore. In Amsterdam there's the Van Gogh museum which is great. So those are a few I can name off hand.

Evan Ball:
Hobbies or interests besides music?

Matt Costa:
I really like I mean going to are museums and stuff. I do like painting and recently I've been getting into making miniatures like little miniature sets. I've been taking a little piece of cardboard and then making them into little motels and things and I also like to go to the beach.

Evan Ball:
Okay. I didn't ask earlier. Did skateboarding go away forever after the injury?

Matt Costa:
Well, no. I mean, I was skateboarding even when I had my crutches. I'd crutch around and do tricks with one foot. But the crazy thing was is that when I got all healed up I thought, "Yeah, I'll be able to do this again," but I really couldn't even walk anymore. The mobility in my ankle was none, I had zero mobility. So, to even step on it and take one step was a big challenge. So it took a while to get back to it. But yeah, I cruise around here and there. I don't skate any, when I did skate it was mostly street, I didn't really skate transition that much. It was jumping down stairs and handrails or skating ledges at schools and stuff like that. So now I just skate flat ground and things out in front of my house or wherever that may be, try a kick flip or a hill flip or something.

Evan Ball:
All right. Well, before I let you go what gauge strings are you playing?

Matt Costa:
Well on electric I play 10 gauge strings and then on my acoustic I play pretty heavy, the low E's, they're 56 gauge.

Evan Ball:
Yeah so probably 13 to 56.

Matt Costa:
It's like a 13 to 56. I like the heavier strings and I use heavy picks too.

Evan Ball:
All right, Matt Costa can't wait to hear the new album, looking forward to that. And thanks for your time and thanks for being on the podcast.

Matt Costa:
Thank you. Yeah, the new record's called Yellow Coat and I'm excited to put it out. Yeah I'm excited to have it and thanks for the support.

Evan Ball:
Thank you all for tuning in to Striking a Chord, an Ernie Ball podcast. As I am speaking, Matt Costa's Yellow Coat is not yet out but as you are listening it is indeed out. So check that out. If you'd like to contact us please email [email protected]

Matt Costa:
Sit in the sun over here. All right.

Evan Ball:
Cool.

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