California indie-pop band Saint Motel were in Portland earlier this week to tear it up at Crystal Ballroom, But before they did we had a fun opportunity to sit down with them and ask all our burning questions like “What’s in a name?” Check out our video, and an informative print-interview from earlier this year, as well.
Timeless Music in a Fleeting Music Business
Ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s special show our very own film-maker and videographer, Robert Parish, met up with the band’s pianist/vocalist A/J Jackson and guitarist Aaron Sharp who met when THEY were both students in film. So you know this meeting of the minds would be good, both visually and in all other ways, too.
Earlier this year, All Access Music featured a great interview with the guys.
California indie pop band SAINT MOTEL was formed in 2007 by pianist/vocalist A/J Jackson and classically trained guitarist Aaron Sharp, who met when they were both film students at Chapman University in Orange, California. Recruiting bassist Dak Lerdamornpong, who worked at a nearby sushi restaurant, and drummer Greg Erwin, who attended another nearby college, they started writing music together, crafting a slick, bouncy, retro, tropicalia-influenced sound that was the perfect foil to Jackson’s smooth, suave croon.
Putting their film school experience to good use, they created eye-catching, retro videos for all six of the tracks on their 2009 debut EP ForPlay. Their catchy songs of love and good times were a hit, and they consolidated their success with sustained touring. Visuals remained an important element of their work and many of their stage shows were spectacular theatrical events with names like “The Valentine’s Zombie Prom.” Their debut album, Voyeur, was released in 2012 and was critically well-received. In 2014 the band signed with Elektra Records, releasing the EP My Type.
Learn more about SAINT MOTEL as All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa catches up with lead singer, A.J. Jackson between studio sessions below:
Hi A/J! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Having my morning coffee with you right now, Nicole! Then…off to the studio. We are knee deep in our full length album. It’s been amazing so far. It’s like a musical party in the studio every day.
So, first things first, you guys just wrapped your summer tour. How was that? What as the biggest highlight from the tour?
It was a unique one for us. So much has changed for us this past year and this is the first time we’ve really been invited to play festivals and radio shows. The crowds have been great and getting to meet bands we’ve always admired is unbelievable.
For those that are not familiar with you and your music, take me back when you were just a kid growing up for a minute. Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
I grew up in Minneapolis, MN. The land of Prince, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, and Rhymesayers. It’s a city with a great art and music scene.
I’m not sure when exactly I decided I wanted to be in a band but I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t in one. Ever since I started writing music in the 2nd grad and performing it for my elementary class I was hooked.
What did you learn between your debut album, EPs and playing live that you felt you wanted to infuse into your upcoming second album, (via Elektra Records)?
“Those magical shows that just become giant sexy dance parties, where you get lost in a cathartic sweaty good time. We want to continue to chase that feeling in our recordings.”
For the horn driven song, “My Type” I understand you guys also used some interesting sonic percussion. I heard Greg even had a slight mishap with this particularly creative percussion instrument. Care to elaborate? Whose idea was that?
There was definitely a beer bottle broken during the recording that you can hear if you listen carefully.
You guys have such great lyrics, especially in “My Type”. I love the line: “Don’t try lines and don’t try jokes/She eats up men like Hall and Oates”. What’s the writing process like? Do you all collaborate as far as writing the lyrics go?
Thanks! Lyrics are definitely the slowest part of the writing process for me. I’m naturally one to overthink everything and I can easily get lost on a single word in a stanza for a while.
“As far as the process, I’ve always been a big fan of lyrics that are subtly strange, tongue in cheek, and have a unique vantage point on a particular topic. For instance, there are a million songs about love that are the lyrical equivalent of “ohhh baby baby” and if it feels stale or cliche, it’s not the subject’s fault, it’s the approach. I think finding that unique perspective on it is the challenge.”
What was the first album you bought for yourself?
I’m pretty sure it was Weezer’s Blue Album.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
When I was a kid I had a really strong reaction to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony 2nd Movement.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Unknown Mortal Orchestra album, Jamie xx, Monika, Tom Jones.
What’s on tap next for you guys? What are you most excited about for this year?
We’re gonna be heading out on tour in a couple weeks with some dates as support for Nate Ruess and Walk The Moon. And, stay tuned as we have some new videos coming up as well!
To learn more about SAINT MOTEL , including upcoming tour dates, visit them HERE