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In Harmony Heaven with Motel Radio

Catching up with the well-traveled New Orleans band as they begin recording their first full-length record.

Photo: Michael Tucker

Catching up with the well-traveled New Orleans band as they begin recording their first full-length record.

We caught up with Motel Radio a couple days before they announced their Kickstarter campaign for their debut record. They've got a couple weeks left and would love your help making the record a reality. Below, we talk about their past few years of touring and what's gone into this new batch of songs. To give you a taste of the new album, they also premiered a video performance of one of their new songs, "Honey", which can also be viewed at their Kickstarter campaign page.

Let's catch up – y'all have been on the road quite a bit. What's that been like? It seems like y'all have been all over.

Yea, we’ve hit the road hard over the past three years. It’s becoming apparent that maybe there are easier ways to do this, but no one told us that when we started and we can’t imagine trading our experiences. Whether it be a honky tonk in west Texas, hip rock club in Brooklyn, or a festival stage, we’ve been there and we’ve had the privilege of sharing our songs with people. Touring can be so disorientating and beautiful all at the same time. It’s easy to lose track of your experiences, so it’s interesting to look back on it as we’ve been working on this new record.

On the good days, we're driving up HWY 1 en route from the central coast of California to San Fransisco. We probably had too much wine from the vineyard gig we played the night before, but we are well fed from the fish tacos and rested from the yurt we stayed at in the hills overlooking the pacific. Flash forward a few days later, you’ll find us in a sketchy part of a strange town on a Tuesday night playing for a couple bar regulars and a generally apathetic sound guy. That same scene will replay a few nights in a row until you play your heart out for a packed and totally engaged crowd that breaks up the monotony of touring and reassures you that you’re doing something real. Regardless of the circumstance, you have to plug in and do your thing.

Any favorite stops along the way?

Definitely. We’ve been fortunate to have people in New Orleans looking out for us and challenging us to step up and play on some of our cities biggest stages. Recently, we played Preservation Hall. Along with Tipitina’s, it’s one of those places that going in we understood the importance of it and felt a responsibility to play our best. Further, We’ve been a part of Jazz Fest for the past three years. We were presented with the opportunity to open the main stages for headliners like Wilco and Beck. We all collectively nerded out when we were added onto the Kurt Vile bill a couple years back. He’s our guy. We are hoping this new record opens up more opportunities with festivals and theaters. Our sets at Voodoo and Firefly made it apparent to us that having a presence in the festival circuit is the goal.

Listen to Motel Radio's 2016 EP ↓

Play on Spotify: Desert Surf Films
  • The live recording of 'Honey', which can be viewed on their Kickstarter

  • Recorded at One Eyed Jack's

  • Drummer Eric Guidry

Along with traveling and growing your audience, y'all's musical style has really transformed through the years...what do you think has spurred on that change?

We started in the mind frame that we wanted to be a folk band. Moving to New Orleans made us want to be more of a rock band. The New Orleans crowd feeds off energy and doesn’t shy from the weird. So over time we’ve shifted from an acoustic singer-songwriter vibe to the more electric and experimental. We like to dance and weird is good. But the constant goal is to make songs that people can relate to and sing along to.

So I guess we can expect more of that on this new album – can you tell us a little bit about it?

This debut record is a culmination of all of these experiences over the past few years. Most of the songs were either written on the road or have to do with being away from home. The songs illustrate our internal conflicts and triumphs over the past three years. It’s going to be both similar and different to what we’ve done already. It’s harmony heaven drenched in dream juice topped with tasty melodies and tones. But it’s different – it’s got sass and grit. It’s more well thought out, and we didn’t cut any corners pertaining to recording quality.

  • Appendix

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