A decade and nearly six million monthly listeners later, Mt. Joy returns to its Philadelphia roots. Leading vocalist Matt Quinn and guitarist Sam Cooper met at Conestoga High School and reunited in Los Angeles years later, now they’re coming back to Philadelphia to perform a set of charity shows at the Mann Music Center in August.
Joining forces with Philadelphia’s Sharing Excess to host a non-perishable food drive, Mt. Joy plans to raise funds for other Philadelphia area charities, including former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin’s Make the World a Better Place and current Eagle Jason Kelce’s (Be) Philly.
Born and raised in Devon, and now residing in Olde Kensington, Quinn looks back on his Main Line area roots, his writing process, political activism and charity work.
Matt Quinn: I grew up in Devon, Pennsylvania, so I went to Conestoga High School and grew up a big Philly everything person. I guess it’s always been home for me.
MQ: I was kind of making probably stupid songs, but I was writing songs in high school and Sam’s brother had a four-track recording device. So I started going over to the house to record some of these silly songs, and Sam was a couple grades above us at Conestoga as well. He was really good at guitar and started playing on some of the songs and that’s really where it all started. Then fast forward a few years, we went to different colleges, and met back up in LA and kind of started it back up again, and that’s what Mt. Joy was.
MQ: You know, Sam lived up on the mountain when I would go over there to record and everything. We were just looking to pay homage to where it all kind of started. Technically I guess he lived on Mount Misery, but that was too intense a band name for us at the time.
MQ: I mean I think for us it was mostly a really positive experience, but you obviously learn a lot about the industry and kind of how things work with record labels and putting out music on records labels, which we had never done before. It was ultimately built on a really positive experience. We had put our first two albums out with them, and they gave us the start that we needed to make this a full-time career.
MQ: I think probably, but at that time there were a lot of things going for us. The music was being well-received and I think it was sort of one of a few things. People were starting to show up to the shows and sing along and I think we just felt like at that point we had this momentum where we had to keep pushing. I think that was definitely one of the things where there’s a metric you can look at it and say, ‘Wow, I think we’ve got a chance to do something special.’
MQ: I think over time naturally you just change your taste as musicians, as people. So I think that’s sort of a natural progression where we just always are going to make stuff we want to listen to, and I think that comes through a little bit on that record. But I think the thing that didn’t change is the process, which is just sitting down and trying to make songs that work and just on an acoustic guitar. The feeling is always if it can work with just one person singing it, and if the foundation is good enough to make it kind of any style. That’s something we’ve always really done. I think we’ll at least continue to do it, [since] it’s been working so far!
MQ: I don’t think that they’re intrinsically linked as much as music has the power to influence in a number of different ways. I don’t think it necessarily has to be political, but because it has the ability to bring people together I think it’s a good tool to be political, to get people to actually listen. I think in this environment, when you start just being political, whether it’s online or through media, I think people are often split to two sides, but I think music can be like the cheese around the pill for people to actually bite into something they wouldn’t otherwise and maybe see something through a different lens. For us I don’t think we set out to be a political band necessarily, but when people or things cross certain lines I think it goes beyond politics, and that’s where music can stand up for people.
MQ: It’s something we’re trying to do more of, and obviously Philly is home for me. Feeling like we’re bringing that many people together, it felt like there was a way to give back to the community that we live in. I think we found some stuff that we’re excited about and obviously whether it’s helping to bring some food to people who need it or trying to make some sort of impact…the Mann holds 6,500 people, so start doing some math and you’re like, ‘Hey, if everyone gives a little then we can raise a lot and make a difference here.’ We wouldn’t be here without Philly, so I feel like we owe it to the city.
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