Salvatore Costa fulfilled his dream of playing arenas in a rock band, but that band wasn’t his, so now he’s going full-force as lead singer, songwriter, co-producer and guitarist of Toronto alternative-pop band Smashing Satellites.
The band — comprised of childhood friend, guitarist-keyboardist Mick Valentyne; drummer Mykey Thomas; and Vancouver transplant, guitarist-keyboardist Devon Lougheed, ex of Hey Ocean — is off to a good start. The first official single, the electro-drama “Waterfall,” hit the top 50 on the U.S. Mediabase alternative chart and top 40 in Canada. But it was the funky electro-stomp “Hounds” that served as an introduction.
“Coming from a rock band, I wanted people to know that that wasn’t where my heart lied,” says Sal. “I felt ‘Hounds’ would explain to people what Smashing Satellites was going to be — which was a quirky alternative pop act with a throwback to the 70s and 80s. This is who I am and this is what I’m going to do in the future.”
Before Sal joined a signed band as its guitarist and toured all over North America and the U.K. opening for some of the world’s biggest rock acts, he was fronting an indie band that was about to start meeting with major labels. But then this once-in-a-life time opportunity came up to learn more about the industry, to play big stages, to do media, sign autographs and all the things that come with a record deal and hits. So he took it.
He lasted four years and two albums.
“I left to pursue what I’m best at, which is writing alternative-pop songs,” says Sal. “I wanted my band to sound like a throwback to all the artists I listened to growing up, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees, Nirvana, Placebo, The Eagles, Prince, and I can’t forget about Queen. They were the ultimate band for me because they were pop, but had hooks and amazing musicianship and vocals. I wanted to make a combination of all my favourite artists, but my interpretation of them.”
Heading to Los Angeles with a head full of song ideas, he started working every day with producer/songwriter Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper, Tracy Chapman, Shinedown) at his state-of-the-art studio, and later with producer/songwriter Dave Bassett (Fitz and the Tantrums, Serena Ryder’s “”Little Bit of Red”). Sal co-wrote and co-produced every track.
“We were totally on the same page. We had a rule — you can’t say ‘No’ to anything,” says Sal. “We were going to experiment with whatever idea we had. I had access to everything — live trumpet players, percussionists, 30 to 40 guitars; vintage keyboards and amplifiers, and also new world production like sampling and creating beats. It was an extremely creative environment.”
He emerged with a full album, including the funky disco pop fun of “Us” about spotting the girl of his dreams, the giant soaring anthem “What It’s All About” about stopping to smell the roses, and stratospheric ballad “Few & Far Between” about the quiet types who eventually get their moment to shine.
When he returned to Toronto, with a full album in the can, he put together the live band and began playing shows.
“I think of what the ultimate musician is and it’s somebody who can play, write songs and sing to a mass audience and that is what those bands represented to me and that’s what I want to present with Smashing Satellites.”