Interview with Gold Motel

By On September 6, 2012 In Editor's picks, Editorial Submissions, Interview, Music


Starting off as a side project for Greta Morgan, Chicago indie pop band, Gold Motel have turned summer weather mixed with pleasant charm into easy listening music. After the release of their first album, Summer House, Gold Motel is now back with their second self titled album that was released in July. Chatting with The GROUND via telephone singer, Greta Morgan and guitarist, Eric Hehr talk about their inspirations, taste in music, and dream tours.

So you just released your second album titled Gold Motel, how long did it take you to work on it?

Greta: Well we had been touring on Summer House for about a year, and some of the songs that made it onto the self titled album started their birth late in our touring cycle. From now to when we actually released the album, we were probably working on it up to a year ahead of time, as far as any songs that started to arrive. We were in the studio from September through November 2011, so it’s probably from 16 to 20 actual days in the studio recording and laying down tracks. There were many months of writing and arranging before that.

Usually how long does it take to come up with your music and lyrics?

Greta: It depends on the song, some come in 15 minutes on that rare wonderful opportunity when that happens, some take hours, and some take a few months.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your music?

Eric: I think that sometimes the music and lyrics come from personal experiences that we’ve had as a band or individuals. Sometimes it’s from other people’s experiences that we know, its kind of a huge spectrum. Then musically, a lot of the inspiration comes from specific bands or artists that the band agrees on as being good reference points for our music.

With your music, what kind of message are you trying to send out to people?

Greta: There’s no easy way to answer that question without sounding like a totally cliched songwriter (laughs) So I would say the biggest affect I would like to have with our music is to have people relate to it on a true level, whether that level is just dancing around in their room with their friends, or driving with the windows down while playing our song on a playlist. Just as long as people are connecting to it.

And your music is often described as being very sunny and happy, but I’ve noticed that your lyrics are mostly bittersweet, is that contrast intentional?

Eric: For me it is. At least the music that I’ve written, because a lot of my favorite songs are. They’re very deceptively sad songs. They sound very happy with a lot of bright melodies and upbeat rhythms, but the lyrics are sad. If you don’t really pay attention to the lyrics, you’re just kind of vibing with the music and you almost don’t realize the bittersweetness is actually there. That word in particular, bittersweet, is a word that is a big trigger word for me in anything. I think that’s a word that when we were writing the new album, not only myself, but with Dan and Greta as well,kept coming up whether it was in relation to our lyrics or a certain tone we were trying to find, but we’re constantly chasing after that feeling.

Do you have a specific visual style to go along with your band?

Greta: Well you can tell definitely online, on our merchandise and artwork, we try and keep a sense of uniformity where everything is very clear and crisp. Kind of a modern take on a lot of 50’s and 60’s artwork. I think personally everybody has their own vision. Eric always looks dressed to the 9’s, button down boots, looks fabulous. I’m generally more casual, dresses and sandals, and Dan is pretty much always in a T-shirt, most often the same three T-shirts, one of which is for Hamburger Heaven. I love that everybody has their own personal sense of style, and again you know in a band everyone has their own individual interest, but then there are things that overlap. We’re all interested in a lot of different types of design and different types of style, they kind of overlap for what makes sense in our music. So that would be kind of the style, sometimes fancy, sometimes less fancy, usually a lot of character.

Eric: Yeah, I think in terms of how we as members of the band dress and look, it’s kind of been a lot of variations. Gold Motel as an entity has a few specific things that we try to do, and that are important to us, probably the biggest are typefaces that are really important. Gold Motel has a font that I try to keep consistent everywhere whether it be on the merchandise, on our website, our Facebook, and things like that, but  the little details like that I think they go a long way. People, whether subconsciously or not, recognize that, and that forms their interpretation of what our visual makeup is.

And some of these shared influences that you’ve talked about, who are they? 

Greta: Spoon, Blondie, The Supremes, the whole Motown collection, Elvis Costello, The Beatles.

Eric: Yeah, those all got brought up quite a bit. Also The Whitest Boy Alive that everyone in the band likes, we brought them up in regards to arranging and song writing. I think I’m the only one in the band who actively listens to a lot of Joy Division, so in terms of sound we used ideas from Joy Division and integrated them into Gold Motel. Then I think Dan’s the only one who listen to James Blake actively, but there’s aspects of James Blake that we were able to integrate into the music as well.

You answered this a little bit, but is there anything else you’re currently listening to now? 

Eric: Yeah, we’re actually in the van on tour right now, and we’ve been driving quite a bit and have had a lot of time to check out new music. We’re listening to the new Dirty Projectors, Twin Shadows, and Frank Ocean albums.

Generally how do you feel about the current music today?

Greta: I think there’s so much. I mean the way that the music is structured today, it’s so easy to just go online and hear 10 or 20 or 30 new artists everyday. In a way, it’s almost overwhelming how much music there is to go through. I think it’s a really exciting time. You know, I hear a lot of bands that I wouldn’t otherwise hear and I’m very grateful for that.

How does it feel being unsigned rather than on a label? 

Greta: Well our first album, Summer House, came out completely independently on the label Good As Gold Records, which is basically run out of my house. I had two amazing interns who worked for the band, and they helped me do all of the releases and ship everything out. With this album we actually teamed up with a group from Nashville, Thirty Tigers. So we still actually ship our merchandise out, but fortunately they’re helping with a lot of the important stuff like radio, distribution, promotional stuff. So this is our first time as Gold Motel working as a label team. So I’m excited to see how it goes, I’m really optimistic about it.

What’s been the response to your album so far?

Greta: So far it’s been really positive. There’s something nice about being a band at our level, because generally the only people who want to write about it are people who really like it. It’s not until you get super famous  that all the haters come out. (laughs) So we’ve been really fortune to hear a lot of positive responses, and I think the best thing about that is a lot of people have really heard exactly what we were really going for. They mentioned some of the references and it seems like the people who were really listening to it understood it. So that means we were clear and easy to understand, which is great.

So what’s next for Gold Motel?

Greta: Well we’re going to finish this tour, and then we have a few shows in August, after that we’re basically trying to opening for larger artist in the fall, which is kind of a major goal for any band that’s our size. So hopefully we’ll be able to open for some of the artists we really like.

And what artists would that be?

Greta: Are we talking dream tours? There’s a lot of them. We’d love to go on tour with Spoon, I’m sure Twin Shadows would be one, especially for Eric. Gosh, there are so many good ones!

Eric: The Strokes would be nice. Another band that we all listen to and used for a reference point was Deerhunter, and everyone likes Atlas Sound, so either of those bands would be good to go out with. I don’t know how we would be received by their audience or fan base, but we’re all big fans.

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