An Interview With Salvatore Costa, the Lead Guitarist of My Darkest Days on His New Band, Smashing Satellites!
Posted On 13 Jan 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, Arielle Reitsma, Artist Interview, Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Hounds, Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, Lana Del Rey, Madison Square Garden, Maxim, Michael Jackson, My Darkest Days, Nirvana, Pharrell, Pink Floyd, Placebo, Prince, Queen, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Salvatore Costa, Since I've Been Loving You, Smashing Satellites, Sonicaluzion, The Eagles
Salvatore Costa is the former lead singer of the group, My Darkest Days. However, he’s making completely different music now with his new band, Smashing Satellites.
The debut single “Hounds” from their debut EP, SonicAluzion (A-side) came out late last year with an astonishing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_JZ52Xq9Lk
Learn more about Costa and Smashing Satellites in the following interview:
You were known for being a guitarist in My Darkest Days, but decided to leave to pursue your own musical interests, ultimately forming Smashing Satellites. Was it difficult to make the move? Was it a just a matter of wanting more creative independence and exploration?
It was so many things really. Personally, we had just grown apart, and creatively we weren’t on the same page to really begin with. The songs and messages I wanted to deliver to radio and the world would never be heard in a band like My Darkest Days. Sonically, I was also creating sounds that didn’t fit the box MDD was in. MDD was a very structured rock band and that was that. I don’t fit well in boxes. I’m an eccentric and quirky person and it was killing me that I couldn’t unleash that. It was almost like creative prison for me.
However, I did learn SO much from being in that band and there are so many amazing memories. Everything MDD did was exactly what it needed to be for what it was… but it just wasn’t me and I needed to be myself. Smashing Satellites was where my heart was, and where I needed to live.
Where does the band name come from exactly?
I feel that as time goes on I find it harder to find other humans to look at… No one wants to look you in the eyes anymore and have a conversation. Phones are almost dated now… The only way it seems you can get a hold of someone is through text message, email and emotion is shown though all the little emoticons. The digital age is killing our ability to communicate on face level. It’s saddening. I want to make a movement toward human communication again. I truly find that I have more conversation with my dog more than anyone else. He at least looks at me and we have a synergy. To me, when I picture the state of humanity, I visualize giant satellites swirling around the planet. However, when I picture humanity coming back to a place of truth, I have this image of every person in the world standing on each others shoulders, reaching for the sky… smashing satellites… tearing down everything that makes us grey to bring back everything that makes us human.
How would you describe the sound of Smashing Satellites?
It’s very me, which is something I’m proud of. For once – I didn’t have any boxes I needed to fit in. I could just create as I wanted to. Smashing Satellites sonically is a mash up of everything that has influenced me into becoming an artist. Artists such as the BeeGees, Placebo, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Bob Marley, The Eagles, Prince, Queen to name a few. These are the artists I strived to be like as a kid, and inherently influenced my writing so much.
Smashing Satellites on a writing level however, is a collection of feelings and emotions put into song. I’m a selfish writer, and I feel that it’s important to be that way. When you begin trying to genre fit or write without purpose, you music becomes contrived and people can see through that bullshit. I feel that writing for myself is like writing for everyone else because we are all just human. We go through the same lows and highs no matter who you are. So I feel that writing for myself will allow others to relate with my music… if that makes sense.
You just released your debut EP, Sonicaluzion (A-Side). What’s that feel like? What are you most proud of about this collection?
It feels pretty amazing. It’s finally a body of work I’m proud of because I got to create it without anyone telling me how it needed to sound. It isn’t diluted – which is what I’m most proud of. It literally is my journal in musical form, and sonically it is everything I was hearing in my head. I had no deadline in creating this record so I literally took almost a year to put it together to make sure it was perfect for me.
Who are some of the influences of this album?
So many! Everything from the BeeGees to Placebo, Michael Jackson to Nirvana, Bob Marley to The Eagles, Prince to Pink Floyd, Queen to Radiohead. Also – in terms of current artists, I was listening to a lot of Lana Del Rey who I absolutely adore. I would just lay on the beach in Malibu every morning before hitting the studio and zone out staring into the sun listening to all these amazing records. I was also just so inspired by the people I was meeting and all these wild experiences I was having… A lot of madness and calmness surrounded the making of this record. My mood and emotions were also all over the place, so I really tapped into that when writing. This record has a bi-polarity to it… it’s very me.
Let’s talk about your single, “Hounds”. What’s the story behind the song and the video for the song?
“Hounds” actually isn’t the first single, but more the first song I wanted people to hear. I wanted to let everyone know that this project was going to be different from what they might know me for doing. We’ll be picking the first single very soon though. ‘Hounds’ in particular has a pretty interesting story behind it. It isn’t just a random song and video concept. ‘Hounds’ is a song I will never forget creating, because it created itself. I was lying in bed in my apartment in LA, just staring at the ceiling, thinking about the direction of this record… where I wanted to take it, and where it needed to be. The next morning I had a writing session to attend in Malibu and I was anxious over the fact that I didn’t have any fresh ideas floating through my head. Suffering from insomnia, I have extremely obscure sleep patterns… at times, it can be psychologically painful… even physically. For once though, this handicap somewhat paid off… After many nights of literally no sleep, on this night I fell into a deep trance… one of the deepest sleeps I have ever fallen into.
This cinematic-like dream began to unfold in this comatose state I was in. In this dream-state, I was laying in an open field looking up at a full moon. When I looked down at my hands, they were large with long finger nails… I began to touch my face, forehead and chest, and noticed there was fur everywhere… as if I was part wolf… a beast of the night if you will. I then looked to my right and beside me was a beautiful woman. In this dream she was of the same species as me… covered in fur… looking through me with these giant green eyes… seducing me. I crawled closer to her and began to touch her and sang “Hounds… we’re hounds… two animals tangled under the moon… I howl for you.” And that was it… I woke up completely startled. I recorded the melody and words on my computer and went back to sleep. The next morning I woke up and headed over to my writing session in Malibu. When I walked in, the producer I was working with asked me if I had any ideas. I said “well I had this really weird dream last night. Do you wanna hear it?” And the song was written. That day we finished writing and recording ‘Hounds.’ The majority of the song was recorded in that one day, including the vocals. If you notice, the vocals on that song are almost quivery and hesitant, but we kept those takes because they were recorded in the moment and were a true representation of my unsettled feeling from the events of the evening past. I wanted the video to depict my dream, but my dream never had a chance to end because I woke up, so I got to create and ending in the video. Also, that is my car (her name is Helene) that makes an appearance in the video and also Maxim beauty and friend Arielle Reitsma playing my werewoman.
What’s so cool about the band is how art and complex ideas are incorporated into the sound- you say this isn’t a band, this is a movement. Could you describe this movement?
Smashing Satellites is a movement to bring people back together. I haven’t put this record out on CD (and I hope I’m not forced to)… instead the only physical copy of this record you can get is on vinyl. I’ve chosen to do this because I truly want to create what has been missing in music for a very long time – that excitement and discovery of opening a record with your friends… sitting down and touching the artwork, the track listing… and then putting the needle on it for the first time and listening to that crackle before that first song starts playing. Just sharing that experience with another human. I felt that if I could get people to do that, the next step is them just listening to my little musical stories and hopefully they will be able to relate. I touch on some pretty personal moments in my life. I have many battle scars that not a lot of people like to talk about, but should talk about it. I hope it serves as a forum of conversation. We to often seek out the internet for answer to the madness and baggage we carry… but sometimes you just need to talk to another person. I hope these songs give people a reason to talk and be okay with the fact that they aren’t perfect. It’s okay to be a mess sometimes. We’re human.
Who are some of the band’s favorite musicians?
We love bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Placebo, Nirvana, Lana Del Rey, The BeeGees, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Bob Marley, Radiohead… and I absolutely am enthralled with Jimmy Page. ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ live at Madison Square Garden in 1973 is one of my all time favorite performances.
Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
I would have loved to write with Kurt Cobain. There is a certain darkness inside of me that those really close to me see and understand. I draw a lot of my inspiration and song ideas from that dark place. I just feel like he was similar in that respect. In the future though, I would love to write with someone like Pharrell.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
Well, we got held at the U.S. border before a gig in Detroit. We were all put into secondary for like 5 hours. We were all restless and just over it… we were dying to get out. All of a sudden two officers wearing gloves just whisked away Devon. We thought they were about to strip search him, and so did he! The look on his face as they were taking him away was absolutely priceless. The three of us left behind just couldn’t help but laugh… we were so exhausted and we knew that we were next. But we didn’t care. We were so tired by then, we just wanted out. Luckily though, they didn’t strip us naked… just patted us down in a holding cell. It was pretty funny.
When you guys aren’t performing or writing new material, what do you like to do for fun? How do you guys wind down?
I spend a lot of time hanging out by the beach. The beach is my favorite place to be. I’m a super low key person socially. I have very few close friends, and very few people that I hang out with. I spend a lot of time with animals… my dog Symba in particular. We go hiking a lot. I just love being in calm environments. I also have a convertible classic car that I love to cruise in. It’s gives me a sense of freedom. The truth is though, even on my down time I’m always creating something. I LOVE to cook and I also spend a lot of time making different meals.