Matt Costa Shares First Single From New Album 'Santa Rosa Fangs'

Jen Rosenstein
Matt Costa

Matt Costa knows it's been a minute -- five years, in fact -- since his last album. But he was hardly dormant during the interim leading up to Santa Rosa Fangs, whose first single, "I Remember It Well," is premiering exclusively below.

Costa filled the time with a variety of projects, including scoring the film Orange Sunshine and releasing some independent EPs. "I spent some time developing some more aspects of my craft," Costa tells Billboard, "studying different styles and learning things -- writing techniques, literary techniques -- all of that just to make things more impactful. And then everything came together within the last year and a half or so."

Due out May 18, Santa Rosa Fangs -- co-produced by Peter Matthew Bauer of the Walkmen and Nick Stumpf of French Kicks and written primarily in Costa's Laguna Beach cabin -- turned into one of the most ambitious projects Costa has taken on. The 12-track set is a conceptual work about three siblings in California as they deal with life, love and death. Costa built the story partially from his own experiences growing up in California; The track "Ritchie" in particular was inspired by the deaths of two of his cousins, who were brothers.

"They're stories and people I've known from growing up here, all sort of tied into my experiences and fringe experiences I've had and made the lasting sort of impression they've had on me," Costa explains. "That's where the things come from, those eternal things that stick with you whether you like it or not."

"Remember It Well," meanwhile, bookends Santa Rosa Fangs in two different versions: the opening with a more lively, Tin Pan Alley flavor and the closing quieter and more ruminating. "It's an intro into this world and an exit from this world," Costa says. "It's sort of saying, 'Here's this place and these things that I've lived and that that these symbolic characters have lived. We're gonna go there. We're gonna remember those places...'"

Costa fans will also notice that Santa Rosa Fans is markedly more stripped-down than the orchestral pop of his 2013 self-titled release -- by design. "It's easy to put a bunch of ideas onto something and really do some elaborate production," Costa acknowledges. "There's some of that here and there on this record, but for the most part it's designed to be played as a four- or five-piece band and be delivered in its full impact. It think that suits the songs and it suits my songwriting, 'cause I've always tried to write songs that can stand on their own and not necessarily hid behind some sonic thing. I felt it would be a shame to cover up a strong song with a bunch of stuff that doesn't really add to the song. So we spent a lot of time writing parts, eliminating parts, re-recording a number of times to deliver the songs that way."

Costa and company will be hitting the road on March 2, with a handful of North American dates during March and May, including two performances during South By Southwest in Austin. He's also written the score for another documentary, Most Likely To Succeed, that's due out during 2019, but his primary focus now is Santa Rosa Fangs. "I'm excited to have a record coming out," he says. "It's been five years since an official release. That's quite a long time, so I'm really pumped to get this out there and then to get out there and play these songs."

The full Santa Rosa Fangs tracklist includes:

I Remember It Well
Sharon
Grudge
Pacific Grove
Santa Rosa Fangs
Time Tricks
Coming Around
Ritchie
Phosphorescent Letter
Windy Smile
Real Love
I Remember It Well #2

Tour Dates:

March 2 - San Francisco, CA - CafĂ© du Nord
March 3 - Carpinteria, CA - Alcazar Theater
March 4 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
March 7 - Costa Mesa, CA - The Wayfarer
March 13 8:30 p.m. - Austin, TX - Pandora Party @ Gatsby (SXSW)
March 16, 8:45 p.m. - Austin, TX - Dangerbird Showcase @ Sidewinder Inside (SXSW)
May 19 - Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle
May 21 - Vienna, VA - Jammin’ Java
May 22 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
May 25 - Toronto, ON - Longboat at Great Hall
May 26 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Blind Pig
May 27 - Chicago, IL - Schuba’s