Interview with Saint Motel

Saint Motel is A/J Jackson (vocals, guitar), A Sharp (lead guitar), Greg Erwin (drums) and Dak (bass) – musicians who constantly experiment and push boundaries within the songwriting process to keep evolving their signature sound that features unique guitar tones and surprising sonic twists throughout.  Dear Dictator is the EP's first single, which is enjoying spins and support from influential Los Angeles radio station KROQ.  The song balances a hauntingly beautiful melody and a powerfully familiar-feeling riff.  The video will soon be impacting at MTVu, MTV2 and fuse. Butch has a Frankie Valli-meets-The Who vibe with its catchy melody, gentle vocals, and huge climax, while Eat Your Heart Out is reminiscent of a more intense U2 with its atmospheric fire. 

To My Enemies showcases Sharp's use of the slide guitar that he manipulates to produce a mesmerizing horn-sounding tone. Pity Party has a build reminiscent of an earlier era and takes you away with quick turns and a memorable breakdown that warns “And if the world would end tonight, I won't be by your side”  ForPlay's final track, Do Everything Now, is a steady build that grabs you and punch you in the gut with its musical force, and sounds like the soundtrack to Jack Kerouac's On The Road.

Tell us about the music of your band Saint Motel.

A/J: We like to think of it as Frankie Valli meets The Who. Melodic but with a surge of raunchy dirty energy. Every guitar part we play we try to make a stand alone part. We try to always do complimentary parts and shy away from doubling each other…unless it's like a crazy octave guitar harmony.

A Sharp: The music of Saint Motel is the product of four guys sitting around jamming in a sweaty rehearsal space in downtown Los Angeles. We are constantly experimenting, brainstorming, and creating music that we enjoy and hope will inspire others.

What special guitar tones or nuances did you use in the recording of your debut EP “ForPlay?”

A/J: Sharp definitely pushes the boundaries more so than I. We tried to make our guitars sound like computers on our songs “Eat Your Heart Out” and like raunchy glam rock for “Dear Dictator.”

A Sharp: There was definitely a point where I borrowed and purchased an assortment of guitar pedals (way too many than I could handle). But, I really wanted to experiment with different tones and textures to sonically expand the mix. I am actually more impressed with the guitar tones A/J achieved, particuarly on “Eat Your Heart Out.” That tele burning through his Hiwatt sounds amazing!

What makes Saint Motel unique and standout from all the other cool, up andcoming bands?

A/J: I think it's the balance we have in our music. We have crazy rock n’ roll live shows and explosive cathartic parts in our songs but at the same time, we have a strong attention to song writing and catchy melodic hooks. This balance has allowed us to find success playing in front of a wide array of audiences – from Lesbian Punk Festivals, to a hip hop shows, to stripped down acoustic sets.

A Sharp: Since the band all come from vastly different backgrounds we have the ability to draw from a variety of influences. This gives our music a great deal of contrast as we strive to create new and interesting pop music.

When did you first start playing guitar, and why?

A/J: I started playing Bass Guitar in Middle School. I thought it was sexy. Or at least sexier that Tenor Saxophone, which I had been playing up until that point.

A Sharp: I started playing classical guitar as a boy but quickly got the rock n’ roll bug after finding my father’s record collection. I still listen to and love classical music, but after listening to Bowie, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, King Crimson, ELP, and Jeff Beck, I realized I could never go back to just sitting alone practicing classical music.

What gear do you use?

A/J: I use a Box of Rock Distortion Pedal, a Holy Grail Reverb Pedal, and recently a Midi Pedal.

A Sharp: These days I am using a custom strat with a JB Junior bridge pick up running through a 1957 Fender Twin-Tweed Combo. The JB Junior used in conjunction with the Fender factory pick ups can give you some cool hybrid-like tones. I also use a wah wah, Fuzz Face, Memory Man, Holy Grail, and AC Booster.

Which guitar players have had the biggest influence on your playing?

A/J: Mick Ronson, Johnny Cash and John Frusciante.

A Sharp: Number One would have to be Mick Ronson from David Bowie’s early lineup. He is one of the most tasteful players I can think of along with Hendrix, Johnny Marr, and Pete Townsend.

Since the band is comprised of ex-film school students, how do you incorporate elements of cinema into your music?

A/J: Well, the best examples would be how we have a music video for every song on our new EP “ForPlay,” which just came out on September 8th. If you buy the EP on iTunes, you get all the videos for free. We were told we are one of the first bands to do that.

A Sharp: We try to make our live shows more like events where people can not only listen to music, but enjoy video projection, art installations, and wild decorations. Film school has also given us the chance to meet other talented artists and filmmakers like Carlos Estrada who directed our “To My Enemies” music video.

What's coming up next for the band?

A/J: We're touring across the country from LA en route and back to the CMJ Music Festival in New York this October and we are horribly excited We're hitting all sorts of towns on the way out there too that we've never been to before. Our touring schedule is posted on our MySpace page:

A Sharp: We are very excited for CMJ and our tour in support of “ForPlay!”

For more information on the band, check out:

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