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November 8th, 2010

Matt Costa Digs His Bowls


28-year-old California singer-songwriter Matt Costa drops by First Unitarian Church tonight on his tour in support of his new (and third, and excellent) LP Mobile Chateau. Costa’s voice and Beatles/’90s Britpop-inspired tunes have often reminded us a little bit of Richard Ashcroft (sans the conceit). A decade ago, Costa was better known as one of the country’s most promising young skateboarders, but after shattering his leg at age 19 he subsequently turned to music, an even earlier love than skating. We talked to him a little while ago about his earliest music-making memories:

“I remember I’d always played music — piano and things — when I was a kid. My aunt had a piano at her hosue and that’s when I first started playing it, I’d learn like theme songs to cartoons or something like that when I was bored. So I went to my parents and said “I wanna play the piano,” and they put me in this course. And I went to the class for like two weeks, and I was resisting learning how to read music as much as possible because I didn’t see the point. I could hear it and it seemed like a step in the process that could be skipped, so I didn’t do it and that’s a common thing. But I got this little air-driven organ — like a plastic keyboard, like you put batteries in it and it blew air through the reed so it sounded like a reed organ or a melodica or something. I remember that was the first keyboard my parents bought me, and I’d sit there with that and be like, “This doesn’t even sound like a piano!” I was kinda bummed because I liked the big sound of a piano that could fill up a room and I had this thing that like wheezed, but it was all I had so I started messing around with that. And I actually used it on the first record, I used it on the title track.

“And then I remember that for hours – I dunno if it was a good thing or a bad thing – but I’d be entertained by banging on a bowl. I would sit there and hit it in different areas to get different sounds, and then I would spin it on my finger and hit it as I spinned it, and I was so amazed by that. Actually, gimme a bowl now and I can still be amused by it. My parents were thrilled. I tried to make up for it by reading some fine literature. ‘Ah, our son – he plays with a bowl and he reads John Steinbeck.’”

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