2 Min ReadBy Mike Duffy
How I Play: Mt. Joy on 'Mind-Blowing' Success and the Pursuit of Music
Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper of Mt. Joy didn't expect to make music their careers, but their songs were undeniable. Watch them discuss writing music in their hometown of Philadelphia and making the move to L.A.
A ton of people move to the West Coast every year to pursue music careers, a challenging endeavor, indeed.
For Los Angeles-via-Philadelphia band Mt. Joy, that was hardly top-of-mind before they surprisingly had a hit single on their hands and found themselves on tour with the Shins and the Head and the Heart and appearing on Conan. For high school friends Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper, music was just a way to relieve the stress of their laborious 9-to-5 jobs.
Quinn and Cooper had dabbled in songwriting in their native Philly before they both went their separate ways to different colleges. Post-graduation, Quinn followed his girlfriend to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in law school. Cooper also found himself in Los Angeles after finishing law school in Philadelphia. When they reconnected, they recorded a few songs, most notably the game-changing "Astrovan," alongside current Mt. Joy bassist Michael Brynes and uploaded them online.
Little did they know or even suspect, but "Astrovan" quickly amassed millions of streams on Spotify (it currently stands at 7.5 million) and pushed them to commit to Mt. Joy as a full-fledged band.
"'Astrovan' was a song that I think a lot of good songs at least for me sort of come out of this, there was no attempt at like writing a hit song," said Quinn. "I was figuring it out in L.A. but still really trying to do music, and I had this sort of joke on a turn of the chords and the random thought of like, 'Jesus drives as Astrovan.' It grew into a song and then every time I would play it for someone they'd be like 'Man, I really like that song.' That's it.
"I think the first month it got like a million plays or something like that which just blew our minds and still kind of does. After that we quit our day jobs and have been doing this."
Now, there's no denying Mt. Joy, who are rounded out by Sotiris Eliopoulos (drums) and, the newest edition, Jackie Miclau (keys, vocals). Those early songs led to a critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album, a collection of modern folk gems with slick harmonies, socially conscious themes and room jammy riffs that recall the Grateful Dead or Allman Brothers.
In addition to writing new material, Mt. Joy will close out the rest of 2018 with a host of headlining tour dates and slots at several festivals around the world. Quite a heady time for two friends not far removed from simply making music as a hobby.
"Since (the album came out) it's been just a nonstop whirlwind of touring, and promo and radio," said Cooper. "It's amazing. It's tiring sometimes, but it's an incredible problem to have. I'm so stoked every time we go out.
"I mean, if there was no music, I guess I would be a lawyer. I would be doing something different that probably wouldn't be a fulfilling job for me mentally and emotionally. There's something wonderful about playing a room full of people singing your songs back to you. It's just an incredible thing."
*Learn more about Quinn and Cooper's inspirations and the rise of Mt. Joy in the video above, and visit their official website to get even more updates.
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