Shocktoberfest Preview: Matt Costa

A bright, sweet sound and a soft voice drifting in the calm ocean breeze; sounds like the perfect backdrop for a relaxed, intimate setting on the beach as the sun slowly sets over the Pacific’s horizon. You may think this is simply a fixture of your imagination, but it’s a reality if you look no further than Huntington Beach’s Matt Costa, who is set to play this year’s Shocktoberfest hosted by ASUCI. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a soothing set of pipes, Costa creates the ideal atmosphere that allows listeners to unwind, decompress and momentarily escape from the high speed of modern life.
Having already released two albums, including last year’s “Unfamiliar Faces,” as well as opening for Oasis on its Canadian tour this summer, Costa has established himself as an artist whose refreshing brand of folk should not go unnoticed. Before his performance at Shocktoberfest this Friday, where he will be performing alongside Low vs. Diamond and Three 6 Mafia, the New University chatted with Costa about starting out in Orange County, touring and planning for his next album.

New University: How do you feel about playing at UC Irvine in front of a hometown Orange County crowd?
Matt Costa: The last time I played was at the [Orange County] Performing Arts Center a while back, so I’m pretty excited about playing at UCI.

New U: Did you spend a lot of your early days playing around in Orange County?
Costa: I’ve played around Orange County a bit, playing between here and L.A. and then working my way up the coast. I used to play at clubs like Chain Reaction.

New U: What was it like to open for Oasis this summer?
Costa: Ryan Adams was there, which was great, but it was rad to be on tour with Oasis. Although, we were at a festival in Toronto and some maniac came on stage and attacked Noel [Gallagher of Oasis], who ended up breaking a few ribs, which led to a few concerts being cancelled. It was a sad way to end the tour, but it was an honor to be called out and play with those guys. The songs they play are songs that will be classic songs people will look back on in 40 or 100 years — they speak to everyone. Being around the songs every night was incredible.

New U: Do you still plan on touring this year or is your attention focused on writing songs for the third record?
Costa: I’ve already begun writing songs for another record, but I’ll be doing some shows here and there.

New U: There’s a lot of diversity on “Unfamiliar Faces,” from the bouncy “Mr. Pitiful” to the lounge feel of “Vienna.” Was this something you wanted to do from the outset?
Costa: I think that every song takes on a life of its own. Each song is sort of like a journey, weaving around on a windy path. The next thing you know, you wake up from a dream and the songs are in another place. You are dreaming and you don’t know why all those things went together, but when you’re sleeping and dreaming, everything just comes together. I had a dream about every song on the record. So that’s how I selected the songs for the record and how they came to be. There are all these unfamiliar faces in your dreams.

New U: So I heard you recorded the last album in Sacramento.
Costa: Yes, I lived in Sacramento for a year. I met this guy on the American River who always moved from place to place, talking about burning his bridges, and when I got done talking to him, he left and went across the bridge. A week later, I was in the park by my house walking back and saw a plume of smoke in the air thinking my house or someone else’s house was on fire. It happened to be at that bridge, which burned down. I wrote “Never Looking Back” based on that and then dreamed about it for a whole month. It’s about a guy who burns his bridges.

New U: Is there a particular goal you want to achieve with your next record?
Costa: It’s going to be like where every night, you stay in a different room and each song will be a key to a room. There’s a song called “Witchcraft” which is “Room 302” and another song called “Little Secret” which will be “Room 665.” It’ll be like night where you will close the curtain and be in the room. The goal is to stay at the motel as long as you want—a place to escape.

New U: Are there any other musical contemporaries in your genre that you look up to or that you’ve been listening to lately?
Costa: I like Delta Spirit. I tour with quite a few bands, so I end up listening to their music a lot. There’s also another band called Mother Sons from Orange County. I saw them play last night [Friday night] and they were very good.

New U: What do you think about the current state of flux the music industry seems to be in?
Costa: I simply appreciate music. Music is meant to make you feel good as long as it reaches ears. As long as it never stops finding our ears, it will never go away.