GIGsoup writer and self-confessed Saint Motel fan Belinda Pearce caught up with the Californian band’s frontman A/J Jackson to talk about their journey, their new album ‘saintmotelevision’ and their European tour…
Many would agree that Saint Motel’s music had ‘longevity potential’ from the very start. How have you managed to work in the recording industry for nearly ten years, yet maintained the fresh, contemporary, Californian-summer sound exclusive to Saint Motel?
A/J: We never really chased any musical trends which I think ended up helping us survive the ebb and flow of what’s buzzing at the moment. We just made music we enjoyed and played our fucking hearts every time we’d perform them live.
Is it true that you guys met in film school? How did the two of you come to form a band?
I asked around for the best guitarist on campus, everyone said “Sharp” so I tricked him into being in a band with me.
Beyond its title, ‘saintmotelevision’ is hugely influenced by the visual medium – both musically and lyrically. Was it a conscious decision to develop this theme throughout the album, or did it happen organically?
We threw a party once called “SAINTMOTELevision” that was a mixture of art, comedy, dance, technology, and music. The event was ultimately shut down by the police but that concept of a live variety show type mixing of various arts felt like a good fit for this album. The songs are like various channels within the framework of the album.
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‘Getaway’ always takes me back to fast game-play, particularly the popular car racing games of today. What did you have in mind as you brought this song into creation?
Oh that’s cool, hadn’t thought about that! That song was written on Christmas, on a beach. Starting with that arpeggiated riff. Then I wanted to hear the thickest piano ever on top of it. Enya-level piano. Getaway popped up as a lyric pretty quickly, not sure why? The original verse melody was much different though.
Tell me about ‘Slow Motion’. It is rather unusual, almost eerie, very ‘sci-fi’ and very cool.
We really were chasing the idea of audio slow motion to represent lyric. We haven’t played it live yet but when we do I imagine we’ll slow down like we do on the record. It’ll be fun!
Even though we live in a world where we take advancements in technology for granted, the 360 Visualiser style lyric video for ‘Move’ is simply remarkable. Whose idea was the interactive video and how long did it take to create?
A couple of my friends from film school got me really into VR. I was immediately excited by the possibilities. We have big plans for the medium in the future and more Virtualizers are on their way…
What is your favourite visual medium, and why?
I love music videos but I am very excited about new visual mediums like Virtualisers.
In what ways is that reflected on the album?
Well, let’s just say we have a VR component to ‘saintmotelevision’ that is in development.
‘You Can Be You’ again has the ‘longevity’ factor. It’s a beautifully composed song with its melody and moderate beat, allowing the listener to take in and appreciate the poignant lyrics. Tell me about how this song came about.
Sharp had a really cool idea. The song actually started with a bathtub sound effect. We messed around with it for a couple hours in the Downtown LA studio and then pretty much had it the way it is you hear now. It was a super quick song.
You’re a band that isn’t limited to what it can create – musically, lyrically, visually on film or on stage. How involved are you when it comes to creating the visual components of your gigs?
100%. Try to keep everything as coordinated as possible. A cohesive feel makes everything hit harder.
What is your favourite part of performing a set?
The crowds. When they are excited, we get excited, then they get more excited. then we get more excited, then we all explode into a confetti!
I had the great pleasure of discovering you guys at Coachella in 2015. An unforgettable performance! Were you aware that ‘My Type’ was the one song the buses played to pump up festival-goers each day as they pulled into the showground?
Whoa! We had no idea, that is amazing to hear. Coachella was a watershed moment for us indeed.
Finally, what can fans expect to experience at a Saint Motel gig in 2017?
‘saintmotelevision’ is out now on iTunes and Spotify. Check out www.saintmotel.com for Europe 2017 tour info!