Matthew Koma Gets Inspiration from Target
The lead singer of Winnetka Bowling League discusses his influences in an interview.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Matthew Koma is raw and honest, possessing a dry sense of humor that is reflected in both his songs and his mannerisms. Coming from punk rock roots and branching out into hip hop and EDM, his new band, Winnetka Bowling League, is the perfect pairing of deep lyrical content and alternative rock melodies.
It’s obvious that Winnetka Bowling League is a labor of love for Koma. Their sound feels particularly distinctive in the context of his other projects, and the name of the band alone feels curiously personal. Heavily influenced by California culture, their songs also have a strange intimacy to them. The emotion of their self-titled EP almost mimics the peaks and valleys of a sporting event (what else would you expect from a group called Winnetka Bowling League?) and Koma’s vocals lend an absurdist profundity to the tracks, guiding the listener through the pleasingly unpredictable twists and turns.
WBL’s latest release, “Kombucha,” once again shows off Koma’s cleverness. The post-breakup jam manages to be as funny as it is apathetic, and, refreshingly, it is mainly concerned with self-care and completely letting go, rather than retaining bitterness over a failed relationship. The song confirms not only Koma’s talent as a musician but also his exquisite command of language, and cements WBL’s status as a band to watch.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations? Where do you get ideas for songs?
I listen to a lot of singer-songwriter type artists. Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Dawes are some of the big ones for me. Words and melody are what draw me in, always. Songs sort of come from everywhere – people, places, coffee, the aisles of Target…I tend to write pretty autobiographical so a lot of what I say stems from personal experience.
Can you explain a bit about what the song “Kombucha” is about? What inspired the song?
Kombucha is a song about leaving someone who was awful for me and wanting no residual contact. Reclaiming my life and the things that make me happy…from my dog and music to finding the right dosage of SSRI’s. Some people can make shit so miserable.
Why do you think your voice is valuable to the music industry?
I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about that. I just make stuff that I like and hope other people like it too. My value is in offering whatever honest angle I can, and in connecting with people who share similar feelings.
What’s the best reaction you’ve gotten from a fan?
There was one girl who looked SO miserable during our show in Santa Ana. I really loved her.
What are you working on right now?
We just finished our new EP! That and putting together our show for Los Angeles in April. And trying to get better at escape rooms. I’m the band’s weak link and it’s really depressing.
What work are you most proud of?
I think after years of working on stuff that had a level of “compromise”, all of these songs feel like the songs I want to be writing. So, as a collection, in general, everything that’s released by this band falls under that category. Sort of the whole point of this is to put out stuff that we love and feel proud of…I’ll probably find fault and hate it by next week but for today that’s the truth.
How would you describe your musical style?
Someone once said we sound like Beck meets the Eagles meets Weezer meets Cake and I wasn’t mad at any of that.
What’s been the best moment in your career so far?
Getting to show the audience in Boston my first place bowling trophy from the actual Winnetka Bowling League that my team won two nights prior. Twilight zone.