Creator Series #001: In Between Shows, a Conversation with Matt Quinn

Creator Series #001: In Between Shows, a Conversation with Matt Quinn

You know Matt Quinn as the lead singer of folk-rock band Mt. Joy. The Bodie Boys were fortunate to sit down with Matt on an off day in between two long legs of a North American tour for their 2022 album Orange Blood. Matt rested up at home in Philadelphia before heading off to a much needed vacation in Brazil, and chatted with us about his creative process, musical inspirations, and the early days of getting a band off the ground.
Welcome to the Bodie Creators Series where we will be speaking with some pretty cool folks on their creative journey focusing on the early days and the grind of getting a project off the ground. Enjoy!

We’d love to hear about your artistic background, and creative journey?

Honestly I grew up in a household where music was always on. The first memory I have is of a little toy classic nylon string guitar that I didn’t really know how to play, but at a certain point I realized I could write goofy songs which really started it – writing these silly songs as a kid. 

Fast forward, I met a friend in high school that was into writing songs and we started writing songs about stink bugs, to give you an idea of how goofy these songs were. We captured one and treated it as a pet and wrote a love song about it. I think I tricked myself into learning songwriting by having fun with it.

That’s how I met Sam, who is the guitar player in Mt. Joy. His brother heard these jokey songs and invited us over to their house to record on his little 4 track unit. Sam  asked if he could play guitar on the songs. From there, he and I kept working together for the rest of high school and started writing some slightly more serious songs, and yeah that’s really how it got started. 

There’s a period in between where Sam and I went to different colleges and stuff but we stayed friends and we just by happenstance both ended up in Los Angeles and got together; and I showed him some tunes and he helped me with tunes and that becomes Astrovan, that becomes Mt. Joy, and sort of the rest is history. 



Speaking of that foundational time, it’s interesting that the Astrovan track came first and then the band around that.

Sam and I were doing what you guys are doing. We were working other jobs, I was going to law school night classes, and doing music as a… I wouldn’t call it a hobby because I think there was some belief there, but we didn’t really know what that belief would get us. We decided to spend some time on it and we came up with Astrovan and a few other songs that were around at the time like Jenny Jenkins, Cardinal, and Sheep. We had those four songs and we would play them at parties or whatever. We realized that in order to be serious we had to record them and we needed a bass player and that was the impetus to put the band together. 

We literally went on Craigslist. We knew we could play bass but not at a level that would make the songs sound like we wanted them to. We found Michael and we recorded Astrovan with Michaels roommate - who actually just produced our third album. It was kind of a crazy situation, finding the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Astrovan was the first song we put out from that group of four and it just immediately connected. It was kind of an insane thing; I can’t really describe how crazy that was. 

It was just the three of us at the time Michael, Sam, and myself, and now we had a song like that, so we needed a proper drummer (Sotiris) and keyboardist (Jackie).



What does making music mean to you, and what do you hope to communicate through your work?

I’m not great at thinking about a hot topic and trying to write a viral song just because that’s what’s on the tip of the tongue for the world. I can only write things when I am personally affected by them in a way that meaningfully moves me. Which means it could be a political thing or not. Some silly stupid things move me too. But what I am hoping to communicate through the Mt. Joy project is the more personal, vulnerable, and honest your art is, the more likely it will resonate with people. Because we are all way more similar than we think.

Who inspired you artistically as a kid, and who inspires you now?

My dad was a Dead Head so I listened to a lot of Jerry Garcia. I grew up with his record Not For Kids Only with David Grisman on mandolin. We would wear that record out in the car as kids. Jenny Jankins is actually a character from a song on that tape. Robert Hunter who wrote a lot of the Grateful Dead lyrics is a huge influence too. I feel like sometimes their lightest, goofiest lyrics have a heaviness to them or a lesson to learn if you just peer in a little bit closer. That’s always been a goal of mine.

Who inspires me now… A lot of people. I am constantly checking out new bands and just being inspired. We just toured with Madison Cunningham, she’s great. I saw Billy Strings, he blew my mind at Bonnaroo. I really like Wet Leg, saw them at Outside Lands on the same stage that we played at. 

We had the opportunity to open up for Dave Matthews the other day. Just to stand on the stage and watch them was truly inspiring. You are watching them and they are showing you what it takes to get to that level. We played a show with Wilco a couple weeks ago and that was the same sort of thing. Just standing there with your jaw open like, “okay I can’t do that, but someday maybe right!?”



How do you decide when the collaborative process on a song or album is complete and you are ready to release it to the world?

I guess it’s a couple things. One, your own feeling that the song is finished and doesn’t have any glaring holes. I step away for a couple of days and come back with fresh ears. Then I’m listening for that “it factor” - the feeling from a song you have never heard before but you have known your whole life. It fits in all the right places and moves you.

The second thing is having a small group of people that you trust artistically. I am sure you guys have the same thing with your creative process. It’s easy to work on something and to fall in love with it in this super zoomed in way. You are making a million decisions and you feel like you have made all the right decisions; but sometimes it’s one decision you made forever ago that led you down a path where you were destined not to make a good product. That, and being willing to take your time and make sure you get it right. 


What has excited you recently - whether that’s music or something else in the world? Or something about life that is inspiring you.

We have had the opportunity to watch some great bands this summer and it’s really inspiring to see how much better we can be by watching others and picking things up.

We have accomplished a lot of really cool things in terms of festivals and people coming to shows and whatever. What we are ultimately searching for at this point in our career is how we can go higher. How can we do better, how can we go up from here.

We have grown a bunch as a band these last couple of tours. I think we are improvising more and really pushing ourselves to be different. We are inspired by where our live show can go and that has been the most exciting thing, seeing where Mt. Joy can go over the next couple of years, and feeling like we have all the tools to get there. 

What was that decision like to move back to Philadelphia and out of LA? Was that a Covid thing or something else that drove that decision?

To be completely honest with you, I moved there out of college because my girlfriend at the time was from LA and she was going back there and I was kind of like shoot, why not it seems like a cool place. We dated for like five or six years and then we broke up in 2019 six or seven months before the pandemic. I realized with my job I don’t need to live any one place, I just need to show up for the tours and rehearsals.

It felt like the end of the LA chapter, beyond it just being Covid., It was like alright I’m single, I can be anywhere, I’m not tied down here, and I had done the LA thing. I am sure you guys have experienced this creatively and in your personal lives where you are ready for a new chapter. I needed to turn the page. I am from Philly but I grew up 15 miles outside the city and I had never really lived in Philly. It was almost like moving to a new place, it’s been great.