Matt Costa, JD & the Straight Shot's Marc Copley and Matt Hartke Talk About Their Coffee House Tour That's Coming to House of Blues

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click to enlarge Matt Costa, JD & the Straight Shot's Marc Copley and Matt Hartke Talk About Their Coffee House Tour That's Coming to House of Blues
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Just this month, the Americana band JD & the Straight Shot [pictured] and singer-songwriters Matt Costa and Matt Hartke embarked on a tour presented by SiriusXM’s Coffee House, a channel that plays singer-songwriters and rare acoustic versions of songs.

On June 6, the tour comes to House of Blues.

In separate interviews, Costa, who dabbles in folk rock, J.D. & the Straight Shot guitarist/mandolinist/back-up vocalist Marc Copely, and Hartke, a songwriter who’s penned tracks for artists such as Adam Lambert, Avicii, Cash Cash, the Chainsmokers, Kygo, Max Martin, Matisyahu and Tiesto and released a handful of acoustic singles, talk about the concept of the tour and how their respective sets will complement one another.

How’d this tour come together?
The Coffee House Show on Sirius has been supportive of my music. J.D. and the Straight Shot had the idea of putting it out together, and they reached out to us about it. Everyone was on board with it. I don’t know everyone personally, though I know their music.
Hartke: I don’t know the origins of it. I think they started this tour about two years ago.
Copley: You know, I have no idea. But I’m very glad that it did come together.

How do you think you’ll complement each other?
I think everyone brings something different. All the music is song-based and just coming from an organic place. I will have my band with me and I think that’s the case for the other two guys. I might team up with Matt Hartke and do some songs. Any of the songs, you can strip down to something acoustic or bring up to the full band. I think that will make for dynamic sets.
Hartke: I think it’ll be really interesting. I’m going to play solo, and James [Dolan] and Matt [Costa] will play with bands. I think it’ll go really well. I’m similar to Matt Costa, and James is a little more Americana. I think it’ll go really well.
Copley: I think with us, Matt Costa and Matt Hartke, it’s all about the songs and the stories.

What makes you a coffee house artist?
I drink a lot of coffee, and I write songs.
Hartke: I think it’s a style of music and a sentiment, and it also has to do with the production as well. It’s anything that’s more stripped down and acoustic sounding.
Copley: We’ve been getting spins on Sirius XM’s Coffeehouse channel, so we thought, “Yeah, coffeehouse tour. That sounds good.”

Talk about your background and what drew you to singing and songwriting?
I grew up in Orange County and for the most part, I’ve lived here my whole life. I grew up in Huntington Beach, and I played music early on. I played trumpet and piano and things like that. What really drew me to songwriting was hearing songs stripped back with just a guitar and a voice, and that’s when I felt like it was something that made songwriting more accessible to me. It wasn’t anyone in particular. I had an electric guitar, and then, I got an acoustic guitar when I first started writing songs.
Hartke: I didn’t start singing and writing songs until college. My family has been in the music industry. My uncle makes bass speakers. My cousin and mom and brothers were always singing. I was always drawn to it. In college, I started teaching myself to play guitar and in college, I decided to make an album and pursued it blindly.

Was there one songwriter in particular that you admired and tried to emulate?
I liked early Dylan and Donovan Leitch from Scotland. Even the early Stones stuff that was more acoustic. I thought you could compartmentalize different parts of the guitar, and I started going further with it. I listened to all sorts of different types of music. I was a skateboarder. You had hip-hop with the Gorilla Biscuits, and you had punk with the Dead Kennedys, and you had indie rock. I never felt tied down to one genre. I would watch a [skating] video, and all those songs were in there, and different skateboarders had different songs. I liked it all.
Hartke: In the early 2000s, Coldplay and Jack Johnson came out and had a similar tone and vibe. I thought I could do this when I heard them. Bands like that made me want to pursue music.
Copley: Wow. Well... there’s a ton. CSN, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles are a good three, and those bands all have multiple songwriters, which is where we’re coming from as well.

Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
It was about making a deal with the devil. I haven’t played it in a long time, but I could, though I’d need to remember it all.
Hartke: Uh, yes. I was 5. It was called “Take My Mother to New York City.” It goes, “Take my mother to New York City/Take my poppa to Chinatown.” My brothers and I had a band called the Triangles. I was the lead singer of that fake band. For the first song I wrote on guitar, I was trying to learn a John Mayer song. I learned the first two chords and got bored with that and started writing a song. It was pretty bad, but I thought it was good.
Copley: [As a band,] our frontman Jim and I wrote a song called “Little White Lies.” It has an old school country vibe, and we still play it now and then.

What was your approach on your latest release?
I had done a score for a film called Orange Sunshine. It was a documentary. It was the first time I had immersed myself from start to finish in terms of writing music for a film. I was in the headspace of doing that and of doing music with images. I always do that. To work directly with something like that and explore those sounds, even in my home studio, led into Santa Rosa Fangs. There was cinematic quality, and a narrative that developed.
Hartke: My two previous songs were more produced and built up, but with [the latest single] “Leave a Message,” we kept it stripped down. We tried to add other elements. There’s guitar and light piano and a female singer lightly singing in a ghostly tone. I also recently did a cover of My Morning Jacket’s “Wonderful” in the studio live. We had three backup singers. That came about because a student reached out to me. He was part of a teen ensemble. They’re pretty amazing. He was a fan of some of the work I did. We scored out the songs and did four in the studio. They didn’t score “Wonderful” because it was already a song. But this is the one that came out the best, so I just released it. I think it came out really well.
Copley: It’s a pretty simple philosophy. Write the best songs you can and play them to the best of your ability. And don’t forget to have fun doing so!

What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been writing songs for another record. I’m going to release a couple of songs around this tour that’ll be part of a bigger release. There’s a three-song EP called Past, Present, Future that’ll come out for the tour.
Hartke: I have an album in the work, but I’m super-meticulous. I have all this stuff I don’t ever release because nothing is ever good enough. I think I’ll release an EP in the fall.
Copley: We recently finished The Great Divide, so now we’re looking forward to getting out on tour.

What will your set for the show here be like?
I’ll play songs from Santa Rosa Fangs. With Sirius involved, I’ll play “Make That Change.” I always throw in some older ones from my discography too.
Hartke: I put “Gold,” “Leave a Message” and “Sign Me Up” on the set list. I’ll probably do the “Wonderful” cover and a few songs that people haven’t heard before.
Copley: It’ll be a high energy set, and we have a couple really fun covers that people will certainly know.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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