Saint Motel Tells Us Why They Are Just Our Type
Since forming in 2007, California indie pop outfit, Saint Motel, has crafted a style all their own. With influences ranging from indie rock to dream pop to tropicalia being attributed to their latest EP “My Type,” the foursome is just getting started. Frontman AJ Jackson is more concerned with creating a recognizable sound rather than being easily labeled within a genre saying, “Hopefully, at the end of the day, when you hear one of our songs you’ll think, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds like Saint Motel!’”
How has your musical style evolved since the band formed in 2007?
I would say for our first EP back in 2009, it was very much produced by others and we were at the mercy of these big studios where you’d only get a couple hours in there to crank out nine songs. While that has its merits, I think for us, we really started to find our sound when we started producing it ourselves about halfway through “Voyeur.” That got us experimenting with other instruments and structures, having time to play around, which has led us to where we are now.
What’s different with your songwriting/recording process the second time around?
This next time around we are more open and aware of the songs. We are trying a lot of different things, which is interesting. We have been doing a lot more writing while on the road, which wasn’t the case before. Not sure how that influences anything. We’ve worked with some new producers rather than just me or me and friends producing it. Sonically, it’ll be bigger. I think that will add to it. We recorded the whole thing not wearing pants, which is interesting…that’s a joke. It’s not true. We were wearing pants, nothing but pants. We are still making music for it, but we have so much music to pull from at this point. I don’t know what the tone of the album will be. We have a lot of different sounds, which is cool. I don’t know how it will all shape up.
What can listeners expect from the second album? If it’s still coming together, that could change.
Think of the “My Type” EP as a bridge between “Voyeur” and what’s to come. It’s a good example, you can get a feeling of what’s coming. Audio pyrotechnics.
Initially coming together while frontman AJ Jackson and guitarist Aaron Sharp were still attending film school, the band emphasizes visuals in addition to their music. Their first EP “ForPlay” was made up of six songs with a music video to accompany each track. Since then, they have released their debut album, “Voyeur,” in 2012 followed by their EP, “My Type,” which garnered much attention both in the United States and Europe.
In keeping with their devotion to pairing the audio with the visual, Saint Motel has released music videos for both the title track of “My Type” as well as their danceable, indie single, “Cold Cold Man.”
Besides the band, you are involved in the music and video production. What do you like most about that?
I like having the creative control. It’s another creative outlet. You go from start to finish with a song. It started out as a necessity. When we started the band we didn’t have a lot of resources. We made the music, we made the album art, we made the videos. You’re involved in every creative aspect of that song. It can be a really satisfying experience. I enjoy making music videos. Before we were signed, we were pretty low budget. A lot of favors and reaching out to friends from film school. They were never really easy to do. We could barely scrape by. Like, “Oh, we have access to this space for maybe an hour. Quick, get in there!” It was very DIY, which forced me to be creative with what we could get away with. I enjoy music videos as an art form, and I enjoy making them. I think they can add a lot to a song.
I noticed with both “My Type” and “Cold Cold Man” that there is a whole story that goes with each of them. They have their own distinct style.
We tried to make them go beyond just a video if we can.
How do your concepts come about for your music videos?
It depends on the video. I didn’t do the concept for the “Cold Cold Man” video. That is our friend Chris Osment. For that one, we were talking about how being in a band is similar in a lot of aspects to being an international spy. We always get questions at customs in the airport. When we get into a country they are always very confused as to why we are only there for one night. Our guitar cases always get taken by airport security because they think they are guns. So we walk in with these cases that they think are rifles while we are there visiting Milan for one night. I don’t know why spies would be traveling in groups of four or eight. We raise red flags. And then we thought, “That’s actually kind of an interesting idea.” That’s how that came out. It’s not really related to the song, it’s more the concept was something that we were laughing about as a fun concept. “Cold Cold Man” was kind of like a cold hearted killer kind of vibe.
Since its release, Saint Motel embarked on two European tours and one US tour to support their EP, “My Type.” Momentum for their EP was first gained in Europe. AJ explains, “That’s where we really started, in the UK and then mainland Europe before it came here [the United States], for about a year. We have a longer history there in some aspects, like with radio. Over there they know us for our more recent stuff, whereas over here, you have a mix, but there are people who have listened since our first release.” Their second, full-length album is anticipated to be coming out in 2016.
Any particularly memorable stories from when you were touring?
We did one in Switzerland that was a stadium full of people on live TV. We didn’t really know what was going on. We showed up and there were people on different stages, so one person is playing and then the other person goes out. We were getting ready to play and there was a countdown clock. Our monitors didn’t work, but they were like, “It’s okay, they will work when you’re out there.” Then there were these giant things on the stage that we didn’t know about that weren’t there during sound check, and we were like “What are these?” And they were like “Oh, those are…” then the stage starts spinning, “those are explosions, they’re pyrotechnics.” And we’re like, “Wait, what?” So the stage is spinning in this huge stadium, and these explosions are going off. It was one of those experiences where you just have to see what happens. It was fun, though. It ended up being really fun. If you can get through that it makes other things a lot easier. At least there are no hidden fireworks. It’s a fun story after the fact.