Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New West Motels interview

The good fellows of New West Motels have a show tomorrow night (2/28) at The Crocodile with Lions in the Street and Brides of Obscurity. I interviewed Rob from NWM via myspace messages.

1. How do you think others would describe New West Motels, and is that the same or different than you'd like to think of yourselves?

In Seattle it seems like if you focus on the vocals, and play rock, you automatically get compared to 3 bands-- Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and/or Death Cab For Cutie... which is completely flattering, but honestly I think, like all those bands, we have our own sound.

If I could choose who to be compared to, it'd probably be Sparklehorse, or Snow Patrol, or Travis, maybe Low, or Reindeer Section, though they're not actually a "band" per se (Scottish "supergroup" featuring members of Snow Patrol, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, Arab Strap, Belle & Sebastian)... And, okay fine, I'll admit it-- Built to Spill... *laughs*

2. Who are your favorite Seattle bands and why?

I like a pretty wide variety of stuff, but it's almost always vocal-based and full of great hooks (that's my definition of "pop music", I suppose)... I like songs more than bands, per se, but maybe-- Central Services just made a great record, I really like the new Friday Mile... I think Karen Pernick is amazing, if you haven't heard her... Tullycraft, the Minus Five, Mountain Con, the Long Winters, Slender Means... I grew up listening to my older brother and sister's record collection, stuff like America, Simon & Garfunkel, Supertramp, Tom Petty, so I tend to like music that you can sing along to the first time you hear it...

3. What are your feelings about the state of pop music in the Northwest and Seattle in particular?

I think people are getting a little bored of the whole angular, jagged-edged, staccato beat, "hey let's sound like The Jam" thing that's been going on the past few years (which only annoys me because I LOVE The Jam)... but if you think about it, the top bands the past couple years in Seattle-- a year later-- they're nowhere to be found... It was style over substance for awhile... It's hard to constantly be playing "the new sound" and even harder to keep the people who like it interested... I used to joke that there are 4000 amazing bands in Seattle, and maybe 10 good songwriters... But it was TRUE for a long time...

And now, suddenly, there are a bunch of great pop bands making waves in town, sort of circling like sharks below the radar, waiting to get their chance in the clubs... which hopefully the clubs figure out, 'cause all these bands are playing the type of music that appeals to a wider audience than just other bands and the hardcore indie kids in town... Seattle is unique in that way, when you travel to other cities... It isn't acceptable to be in a band here that the average joe on the street would like... Which is sad, 'cause it's THOSE people who really need music most... the ones with the shitty everyday lives who need a break from it and are counting on you to provide it for them... The part of music that makes it "pop"-- as in popular. People want to relate to what you're saying, not just be impressed by "I haven't heard/seen that before"... And until recently that wasn't happening in Seattle...

I think the major sign that the pop tide is turning is that some great pop bands from years gone by are getting back in the pool-- like Sister Psychic, and Peter Parker. It's finally safe to be "pop" in Seattle. Thanks to Death Cab and Modest Mouse, who were somehow able to straddle the line between indie and popular, and break the mold.

4. If you could be the opening act for any band, any time period, who would that be and why?

Easy, The Who during "Sell-Out"-- best pop album by a rock band ever... the harmonies, the guitars, the picturesque lyrics, the hilarious advertisements between songs... Although, since I wouldn't actually be alive for that one, 2nd choice might be Wilco during their "Being There" days... Another great pop record written by a rock band... Of course, the liquor tab for either of those tours would be astonomical!

5. What's the latest news from you guys and what's on the horizon?

The last couple months have been crazy really, we finished recording the majority of our debut record outside Manchester, England in December, little place called APE Studios... GREAT studio, great people, great little town overlooking Wales... Got picked up by a production/management group called The Dexa Cult (based out of London)... literally in the last two weeks have had 3 labels pop up on the radar asking about us... We're suddenly worrying about all the little stuff that gets a little overwhelming, like lawyers, band agreements, tour offers, press, etc. We're headed down to play a showcase at SXSW.

Meanwhile, finishing up the vocals and overdubs for the record, when we can fit it in, so it can actually come out. Playing shows when we can fit 'em in. It's fun, though. It's all the stuff you'd WANT to be happening, so we're pretty excited about it. For now, we'll just finish the record and see what happens. We're letting the music do the talking for us.

6. What's something people don't know about New West Motels?

In England, our bassplayer Doran is practically a celebrity, because his Great Uncle was Cliff "Boy" Bastin, who played football (soccer) for Arsenal back in the '30s and '40s. He was the all-time leading scorer for Arsenal all the way up until the 1990s.

Mat, our drummer, almost died a couple years ago from an infection he got when he cut his hand on his snare drum. He lost all the skin halfway up the inside of his left arm. Very scary moment. Then he had a secondary infection flare up this past October, but insisted on playing drums immediately after getting released from the hospital-- we have pictures of him playing Emo's in Austin hooked up to an IV-- no lie!!!

(Blogger's note: I'm working on getting a copy of the photo of Mat playing with an IV in his arm)

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