At age 19, Matt Costa’s skating career looked like a sure thing. At that point, the Orange County native was skilled enough with a board to be very much en route to going pro. Then, during one one fateful session, he miscalculated a staircase jump. Wrecking the landing left with him with a rolled ankle and professional ambitions that had been permanently crushed. After undergoing emergency surgery to fix the intensely fragmented bone, Costa needed something on which to focus during the long rehabilitation period. He settled on an acoustic guitar purchased some six months before his accident. “When I broke my leg, that’s when I had a lot of time to spend with [the instrument],” Costa says.
Playing music had always been a recurring interest. As an elementary schooler, he took piano lessons and attempted the Pink Panther and Peanuts themes on his grandmother’s piano. Then he picked up trumpet for school band and—following his interest in Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins—an electric guitar for his own projects. Now 30, Costa is a veteran singer-songwriter with several tours and four records—most recently, February’s Matt Costa—to his credit.
Back during his initial recovery, Costa grew very fond of folk music rooted in 1960s and 1970s Great Britain. His uncle assembled him mix CDs, using Summer Day Reflection Songs—a compilation from Scottish folk type Donovan—as a centerpiece. In developing Matt Costa, the musician made good on that era’s sounds by traveling to Glasgow and recording his take on the style. While originally conceived as a dreary-sounding thing, producer/engineer Tony Doogan convinced him to try a Spaghetti Western approach. The rich-sounding result seesaws between the dour and joyful—an angle that mirrors the bittersweet circumstances of how its creator came to find his current station. “[Making music] was always just a hobby,” Costa says. “Now, it’s become an obsession.”
Wed., Apr. 17, 8pm. $15. With the Blank Tapes + Vandaveer. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
PW's Music Issue 2014